Let’s talk about perhaps the most well-known AHA around… Glycolic Acid! Glycolic Acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is derived from sugar cane and works by exfoliating the skin to reveal glowing skin below…. It’s a popular skincare ingredient and is found in anything from toners, to moisturisers, masks and more.
Let’s talk about why this ingredient is so popular and has been found in so many skincare products.
How does it work?
- Glycolic Acid has small molecules (the smallest of all AHA’s including Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid and more) which makes it easy for them to penetrate the upper layer of the skin and exfoliate. It makes them highly effective.
- They work by speeding up cell turnover, dissolving the bonds that hold skin cells together. It allows dead skin cells to slough off quicker than they would normally.
- What it essentially does is help remove the uppermost layer of our skin by breaking down the bonds that bind dead cells together. It works to ‘unglue’ skin cells from each other.
- It also helps to stimulate your skin to create collagen. This is a protein that gives skin its firmness, plumpness and elasticity. As you grow older, your production of collagen naturally slows down and using glycolic acid can help prevent this breakdown of collagen.
- They are different to BHA’s as AHA’s are water-soluble acids (BHA’s are oil-soluble) and work more on the upper layers of the skin – BHA’s get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.
What does it do for the skin?
- It can help smooth fine wrinkles and improve the skin’s tone and texture.
- It can also help boost hydration levels – therefore plumping the skin.
- It can also help fight sun damage and has been used to fade some hyperpigmentation. However, it cannot get rid of scars – although it may soften the look of raised scars and pitted scars.
- It’s also great to help prevent ingrown hairs.
- As an exfoliant, it can help brighten the complexion and help to make pores appear smaller too.
- Acne treatments often include glycolic acid as it can help keep pores clear from blockages.
- It is a humectant – meaning it attracts water molecules to itself. Great because your skin needs that moisture and when it’s humid, it’ll take that from the air. However, in dryer climates it may draw the water from deeper levels of the skin to the surface of the skin… so do use a nice moisturiser on top to seal everything in.
Here are some products we’re loving that contain Glycolic Acid…
For the Face
Love Absolute Silk and Spice face wash
This silky-smooth foaming face wash utilises Glycolic Acid to exfoliate the skin gently as you wash away the day. The cleanser is gentle enough for daily use without disrupting the skin barrier, your skin will be left feeling cleansed but not tight.
Silk and Spice face wash is £42 from The D.O.R. Beauty Edit
Herbivore Prism Exfoliating Glow Serum 12%
This is a lovely leave-on treatment! It has a serum-like texture that is combined with skin calming ingredients to leave you with plumped up, dewy skin. The serum doesn’t feel like it’s irritating my skin or making it red in any way. It had some lovely ingredients in here to soothe the skin as it exfoliates, so my skin felt great. Some people may find that it tingles, but as I’ve used chemical exfoliators in the past, I didn’t have that reaction from it.
Herbivore’s serum is £49 from Cult Beauty
Alpha H Liquid Gold with 5% Glycolic Acid
This hero product is like an ‘overnight facial’ for your skin. You can treat this like a toner – applying it with a cotton pad to the skin after cleansing. It’ll slough away at dry skin on the surface as well as cleaning out any bacteria and oil from the pores. It’ll help to fade pigmentation, dark spots and promote the production of collagen. The Glycolic Acid works to ‘melt the glue’ that binds the dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. It’s Alpha H’s most popular product and for good reason! Apply it like a toner a few times a week before bed and your skin will thank you.
Liquid Gold is £39.50 from Cult Beauty
Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Night Peeling & Serum
This fabulous night-time product combines two formulations in one to combine the radiance-enhancing effects of Glycolic Acid with the moisturizing effects of Hyaluronic Acid to plump the skin. Love that it combines two formulas in one that only mixes when you need to use it (keeping the product stable and active) and gives you two products in one without needing to layer or purchase additional products.
Eucerin’s night serum is £38 from Superdrug
The Nue Co The Pill
This all in one ‘topical supplement’ contains so many components that your skin needs from complex AHAs, to Hyaluronic Acid to the K-Beauty hero Tiger Grass. It’s designed to replace your usual layering skincare routine… it has everything you need in one! The Pill uses six different AHAs derived from organic sugars to brighten, gently exfoliate and resurface the skin: Glycolic, Lactic, Mandelic, Malic, Tartaric + Citric. These all work together to exfoliate different layers of the skin, leaving you glowing.
Nue Co’s Pill is £65 from The Nue Co
For the Hair
Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Scalp Serum
As someone who uses a lot of products in her hair, I found this a great product to hel pwith build up on the scalp. It’s easy to apply and has an almost tingling sensation when applied: I like that you can apply this briefly before washing to prepare the scalp. It feels great on the hair, and some might find they don’t need to shampoo afterwards, just wash it off and continue with your routine (but I prefer to shampoo). This does a great job at clarifying the scalp and lifting any excess oils, dead skin cells and product build up, leaving the scalp feeling fresh.
Sunday Riley’s scalp serum is £42 from Cult Beauty
For the Body
First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub
If you struggle with dry skin on your body or have keratosis pilaris, using body products with Glycolic Acid will be a game changer for you. This lovely body scrub from First Aid Beauty contains Glycolic And Lactic Acids to exfoliate along with natural exfoliating particulars to mechanically remove dead skin cells. It also has ingredients to soothe and calm the skin… leaving you with silky smooth, glowing skin.
First Aid Beauty’s body scrub is £26 from Feel Unique
Pixi Glycolic Body Lotion
Pixi have a great range of glycolic enriched products and this body lotion is one of our favourites. It has a unique blend of Aloe, Grape Seed Oil and Ginseng provides intense hydration to restore & maintain optimum moisture level. It’s a lovely moisturising lotion that absorbs into the skin quickly and feels lovely for those with normal skin who would also like the added skin brightening benefits of Glycolic Acid over time.
Pixi’s body lotion is £24 from Cult Beauty
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