The ultimate guide to incorporating glycolic acid into your skincare regimen

Here’s everything you need to know about this skincare ingredient and its benefits.

If you have ever wondered how to achieve a smoother, brighter complexion, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, or tackle those pesky acne breakouts before your wedding week, glycolic acid may be the solution you have been searching for. Glycolic acid is a type of AHA derived from sugar cane. It’s a water-soluble chemical exfoliant commonly used in skincare products often used to address skin concerns like uneven skin tone, acne, fine lines and wrinkles. When applied to the skin, glycolic acid can have several in-depth effects and benefits. 

Exfoliates: Glycolic acid is water soluble and has a smaller molecular size, allowing it to penetrate the skin’s surface easily. It works by breaking down the bond between dead skin cells, promoting their shedding. This exfoliation process results in a smoother, brighter complexion by removing the layer of dull and rough skin. 

Stimulates collagen production: Glycolic acid has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen, a structural protein that gives the skin its firmness and elasticity. As we age, the production of collagen decreases which leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles on your face. This is where glycolic acid steps in, helping combat this by encouraging the skin to produce more collagen that leads to a more youthful and radiant glow.

Reduces hyperpigmentation: Glycolic acid can fade dark spots, sun spots, and uneven skin tone by inhibiting melanin production and promoting the shedding of pigmented skin cells. This helps in addressing skin-related issues like age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

Treats acne: The ingredient is beneficial for those prone to acne because it can unclog pores by exfoliating the surface layer of dead skin cells and dissolving excess oil. Moreover, it also has mild antibacterial properties, making it effective in treating and preventing breakouts. 

Improves skin’s texture: For people dealing with uneven and rough skin, glycolic acid helps refine the skin’s texture, making it feel softer and look more even. 

How to incorporate glycolic acid into your skincare routine?

To get started, it’s important to understand your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to start with lower concentrations and adjust the frequency based on how your skin responds to it. Begin with a glycolic acid cleanser and later add a glycolic acid toner to further exfoliate and balance your skin. If you have specific concerns like fine lines or dark spots, consider incorporating a glycolic acid serum. Glycolic acid can cause dryness, so we would recommend moisturising and applying sunscreen in the morning as this acid also increases skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Avoid mixing glycolic acid with other potent actives and if you experience excessive dryness, stinging, burning or irritation, adjust your routine accordingly.  

What precautions should you take when using glycolic acid?

Start by performing a patch test to check for any allergic reactions or sensitivities. Begin with a low-concentration product if you are new to it. Additionally, it is recommended to apply glycolic acid at night, as it can increase skin sensitivity and make your skin more prone to UV damage during the day. Be careful not to apply it too close to the sensitive skin around your eyes, as it can be more delicate and prone to irritation and burning. 

Products infused with glycolic acid to shop

Caudalie Vinoperfect Glycolic Peel Mask, ₹2,500

Minimalist 11% Glycolic Acid & Tranexamic Acid AHA BHA Body Exfoliator, ₹699


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Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser, ₹3,250

PIXI Glow Tonic Serum Glycolic Acid, ₹2,418


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Kiehl's Ultra Pure High-Potency 9.8% Glycolic Acid Serum - Boosts Glow, ₹2,800


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