Who better to help us explain everything you need to know about Glycolic than skincare expert and Beauty Editor, Ava Welsing-Kitcher. Ava features in top publications to bring honest advice and information on everything that is happening in the beauty world. That's why we're so thrilled to partner with Ava to bring you everything you need to know about Glycolic...
Whether you’re a skincare buff or new to it all, odds are you’ve already seen the word “glycolic” floating around as the fast track trick to smooth, clear, and glowing skin. As one of the buzziest ingredients, it’s ramped up a devoted following of beauty editors, skinfluencers and dermatologists - and for good reason. It tackles so many skin concerns, from dullness to unwanted texture and congestion, with an addictive ability to unveil your best skin yet.
To truly understand why glycolic acid is such a hero, it’s vital we look into the science of it. Glycolic usually comes from sugarcane, and belongs to the AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) group. Its molecules are much smaller than a lot of other acids, so it can delve deeper into the multiple layers of skin. It tackles the outermost dead skin layer, known as the stratum corneum, to reveal fresh juicy skin cells, plus encourages collagen creation for more supple skin.
With that in mind, glycolic acid is an all-rounder for various skin concerns. Has an old breakout left you with bothersome brown marks? Glycolic will resurface that hyperpigmentation away. Struggling with a lackluster complexion? Introduce glycolic to your routine to slough off dull dead skin and make way for the glowing new layers. And if you can’t keep spots at bay, glycolic acid can help suppress them from forming while accelerating skin cell renewal to make existing ones vanish faster.
Although glycolic works wonders on oily and normal skin types, those with sensitivity or dryness need to take caution and build up the skin’s resistance to it. Because it’s quite powerful, you can risk over-exfoliating, which can disrupt the skin’s balance and lead to redness and irritation. Products containing glycolic acid often indicate the percentage of the acid on the label: the higher the number, the deeper it can penetrate into the skin. 20% is the highest, and you should never use anything above than this at home. To ensure skin gets a gentle introduction to glycolic, look for 5% formulas and use once a week, see how your skin responds, then build up to biweekly use with 10% and eventually a 20% formula if you wish. Patience and consistency is definitely key, and as tempting as it may be to rush into instant dramatic results, your skin will thank you for taking the long route.
Glycolic acid often comes in various forms with different uses for each, meaning it can slot seamlessly into any stage of your nighttime routine. Glycolic cleansers are only on the skin for a couple of minutes, so are a great and gentle way to introduce the acid to your routine. Toners and serums are the favourite formulas, as they stay on the skin and work for longer on pores and skin cells, especially for oily types. Masks often have higher concentrations for a flash peel kind of treatment, but should be saved for every so often or when you’ve built up resistance. And pay attention to the other ingredients in your routine; glycolic pairs well with salicylic acid and vitamin C, but not so much with retinol. Use on differing days, and always use a sunscreen the following day to protect that new, baby-soft skin.