The only 3 things you need to know about Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is a skin-care ingredient that many people might shy away from, not least because it has the scary A-word in its name. However, it’s worth remembering that anything below pH 7 is classed as acidic and that includes skin, yoghurt and milk! Glycolic Acid is the most-studied of the alpha-hydroxy acids and is fast becoming a can’t- do- without ingredient amongst skincare experts. We’ve summarised everything you need to know about this super-exfoliator below:


  1. Glycolic Acid (most-commonly derived from sugar cane) is a member of the alpha-hydroxy AHA) group of ‘skin-friendly’ acids. Powerfully penetrative due to having a very small molecular size, most at-home treatments have concentrations of between 5 and 15%.
  2. The main function of glycolic acid in skincare is as a skin exfoliant. This super-penetrative molecule works primarily on the uppermost layer of the skin, breaking down the glue that holds dead skin cells together. The result is clearer pores, a brighter complexion and fresher-looking skin.
  3. Glycolic Acid in skincare is most effective at lower pH’s, but very low pH can increase the risk of irritation. Look for a glycolic toner with a pH of 3.5 and an acid concentration between 6% and 10%. This will ensure that your skin receives maximum benefits without the risk of irritation. The nice thing about glycolic acid is that at the correct concentrations, it’s good for virtually all skin types with the exception of those with extremely sensitive skin or diagnosed rocacea.

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