Glycolic Acid for Skin: Side Effects, Benefits And Properties

Currently, the use of chemical components for beauty purposes is something very natural, which is why they have become popular in the world of cosmetics; such as Glycolic Acid , especially when it comes to skin care.

For example, the famous condition called “chickenpox”, a disease in which the individual has a fever and the appearance of small sores around the entire body, can leave very long-lasting spots , which in some people affect their physical appearance and They need to erase these stains, there glycolic acid can be a great ally.

What is the glyolic acid?

Glycolic Acid is a highly effective chemical compound due to its structure, it is presented in the form of a molecular chain, it has the ability to penetrate the skin and reach layers of great depth, even more than other compounds.

This is due to its origin, belonging to the family of alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs. It is a component that provides great benefits in dermatological care, it is considered a natural product due to the composition of its unaltered ingredients.

In turn, it comes from fruits such as orange, apple, and grape, although it is mostly said that its origins come from sugar cane, this is one of the reasons why it is becoming a trend, since it is appreciated as a naturopathic product that helps to maintain the skin.

It is presented as a translucent and hygroscopic substance , whose ease of dissolution is remarkable, it is diluted in water, as well as a large number of other components that amplify its properties on the skin.

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Due to the reaction it has to dead cells in the dermis and the activation of important proteins in the skin, such as collagen, as well as its ability to retain water, greatly helping with hydration, Glycolic Acid is a product in high demand. with benefits for each type of skin and the possible problems that arise.

Under what other names can you get Glycolic Acid?

Like many other compounds, they can be presented under different names , due to their nature and composition. In the case of Glycolic Acid, it can also be found as hydroxyacetic or hydroxic acid ; like: fruit acid, whose name is due to its origins, mentioned above.

Where can Glycolic Acid be found?

There is a wide variety of products such as lotions or creams for the face, whose properties are due to Glycolic Acid, and not only as a complementary ingredient but also as a base. In this way, you can buy it in pharmacies and even in cosmetic stores and pharmacies or where products of this class are present.

Normally, people generally acquire it for home use and in low concentrations in order to avoid damage to facial tissues . However, there are also beauty centers in which they do treatments with Glycolic Acid, although they use it in higher concentrations.

When it comes to using it at home, when buying it, the customer must ensure that it is in very low concentrations that can be from 5% to 15%, especially if it is only to restore or achieve a smooth skin texture and delicate without falling into unfavorable results.

In the same way, as it has the purpose of chemical exfoliation or peeling at home, it must be purchased in concentrations greater than 50% since it is a more difficult and dangerous treatment for people, if you do not have the required experience with the use of this component. . Therefore, we recommend using it with caution and consulting a specialist beforehand.

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It can also be easily bought online in online stores, some people contradict the opinion about buying it or not virtually, since for certain users it is an undeserved risk; while others opt for this form of purchase claiming that it turns out to be cheaper and inconveniences that can be found in a pharmacy or similar are avoided.

Is Glycolic Acid cheap or expensive?

Like any commercial product, different prices for Glycolic Acid can be found, taking into account the presentation in which it is purchased. We must remember that many beauty and health companies produce merchandise where Glycolic Acid is the main component, but it is accompanied by other elements to facilitate its use, which makes it more expensive.

If the person is looking for something cheaper, he can choose to buy it in its powder presentation, which can be found at a much more accessible price but should not be applied in this way since it can become an abrasive reagent that instead of eliminating Dead skin cells damage skin tissues .

What is Glycolic Acid made of?

Unlike other products whose composition is usually more complex, Glycolic Acid only consists of two carbon atoms, four hydrogen and finally three oxygen atoms, all of them make up Glycolic Acid.

Glycolic Acid Benefits

The reason why this compound has become a trend, is thanks to the diversity of effects it has in terms of skin care, evidence has also been found in which its effectiveness is improved when used in conjunction with others hair cosmetics.

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Exfoliating effect or peeling effect

The famous peeling, is nothing more than a dermoestético treatment that helps in the regeneration of the derm i s by removing dead cells stored therein. In the same way, this exfoliating action provides oxygenation to the cells, which gives an illuminating effect to your face in a natural way and without excesses. Since in this process a thin surface of the skin is eliminated, leaving it exposed, it is necessary to use high-index sunscreens that prevent the production of burns in case of exposure after applying it.


Like all alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic has the ability to activate or help the regenerating process of collagen in the dermis, which gives strength to the skin of the face, thus avoiding the appearance of wrinkles over time.

moisturizing power

Likewise, it has the ability to retain water , which together with the elimination of the layer of dead cells produces total hydration on the face. A hydrated skin is not only beautiful but healthy skin and it is surely the type of skin you want to show.

Anti-stain and anti-acne

As we very well know, glycolic acid is a fruit acid that we also find in sugar cane, it also works as a very effective treatment for acne and to reverse and prevent the effects of aging at any age.

Because it is a medicine of natural origin, it is not so harmful and with long-lasting side effects in our body , however, like any medicine, it must be used with great caution even though it is of natural origin.

It also has a great bactericidal capacity , which helps in the elimination of microorganisms that cause diseases such as acne and other kinds of imperfections that affect people, such as annoying spots.

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Due to its acidic condition, adding it to the skin burns the upper layer of it, eliminating all the dead skin and impurities that may exist. By eliminating this layer, the pores of the skin can breathe calmly, preventing the proliferation and growth of bacteria.

That is why this acid is used to perform peeling or deep facial cleansing, which makes the elimination of acne much easier, especially if it is the annoying blackheads or closed spots. Although it burns the first layer of the skin, it also deeply hydrates it.

Reduces scars

All the benefits that it offers are incredible and as if that were not enough, the mixture of all the benefits produces the clarification and elimination of those scars and stretch marks that can embarrass us so much, helping us to show off a skin free of all of them and with an aspect almost perfect.

If you combine glycolic acid with vitamin A, you can provide your skin with better results for the lightening and reduction of spots and scars, which include spots caused by exposure to the sun and the scars that acne leaves when trying to remove it. unduly papules or blackheads.

Hair care

Surprisingly, its properties are not limited only to dermatology, but its use has positive effects on the hair such as: strengthening it, in turn giving it shine and vitality. It also makes it resistant to heat and serves as a restorative treatment against damage caused by dyes, excess heat.

By using conditioners or cream baths with incorporated Glycolic Acid, you are providing your hair with multiple benefits so that it can remain healthier and stronger despite the mistreatment that may be caused to it.

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If you love to expose your hair to strong treatments, you should use this acid to avoid haircuts or broken ends throughout the length of the hair, so you could use this product to prevent your hair from breaking when brushing dry or wet.

Thermal resistance is significantly improved even though the hair is rinsed or painted, which makes it much more resistant to treatments with irons , dryers, curling tongs or any other type of straightener.

It also improves elasticity, making the hair much more manageable and soft to the touch , on the other hand, it manages to stabilize the keratin of the strand, keeping it much firmer and stronger regardless of the free radicals to which the hair is exposed.

Another condition that this acid contributes to the hair is the distribution of natural oils more evenly. Great care should be taken when applying this product to the scalp, as it can irritate it.


Since nothing is perfect, it is necessary to emphasize that the misuse of this product can have harmful consequences , especially if the affected area turns out to be nothing more and nothing less than the face.


It is one of the most likely effects, it is due to a non-lasting irritation in the dermis , it tends to last only 24 hours, however, not all organisms are the same, so there is the possibility that it lasts longer in certain people.

This side effect occurs after having burned the first layer of the skin , making it much more sensitive to free radicals, especially if we are talking about sunlight or any heat emanation.

If you suffer from rosacea, you should consult your dermatologist before applying this acid to your skin, because you can worsen and further increase this condition of redness on your skin.

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After applying this product to your skin, you should avoid exposure to the sun as much as possible . If you plan to go to the beach, avoid applying this acid on your skin as much as possible since it will damage it.

It is important to keep in mind that if you underwent a deep or intermediate exfoliation peel, the redness on your face can last for several months after finishing the treatment or sessions, it is part of the normal skin regeneration process.


This symptom is very common to be experienced at the time of application, as well as a slight itching from the first moment that Glycolic Acid begins to be applied to the skin, this is due to its typical acid nature, so it does not it must surprise us too much.

It usually occurs after applying the product and can last for approximately 24 hours normally, after this period of time the burning will gradually decrease.


In certain cases, the skin that has been exfoliated can darken as a result of the elimination of a layer of skin , which no matter how superficial it is, does not stop being what it is. This turns out to be the opposite effect that some people may expect, if it is blemish lightening they want.

This side effect is classified as hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation . When we talk about hyperpigmentation we refer to a darkening in the skin after having done the exfoliation, on the other hand when we talk about hypopigmentation we refer to a partial or total lightening of the skin.

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These color changes are not very frequent in people with white skin but they are in darker skin. Although it is not a reason to worry, we must be very aware of all the strange or normal symptoms that we may develop in this regard.


If care is not taken, using sun protection, after having applied Glycolic Acid, there is the possibility of suffering some burns , being extremely delicate at that time.

Inevitably, by removing all the dead layers of your skin, as said previously, all the living and healthy part of it will be totally exposed to the sun’s rays or ultraviolet radiation.

This is not an alarming symptom, as it is a totally normal condition for skin peels . It is recommended to use sunscreen even if you are at home, for these cases we recommend a sunscreen of 15 SPF but if you are going to be directly exposed to the sun’s rays you should use a screen greater than 30 SPF.

Recommendations and important facts about Glycolic Acid

First of all, it is recommended that a specialist order and / or apply the product, due to the risk that all acids can have, that is why there are against indications in use.

Having already had the treatment with this compound, it is absolutely necessary to use moisturizers that act as a reducer for side effects.

Avoid direct sun exposure for several days . People who suffer from skin diseases such as herpes or who tend to be susceptible to sunlight themselves, should not use Glycolic Acid.

It is advisable for the individual to undergo a test to see the level of sensitivity they have before using the acid, avoiding complications.

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If a series of applications is expected, it must be gradually, starting with products that contain low concentrations and gradually increasing effectiveness, if greater is sought (and if it is recommended, of course).

Letting the skin rest, it is equally important, to give it a rest from chemical exposure between each session.

If I am taking Glycolic Acid, what should I avoid?

As mentioned before, it is necessary to avoid exposure to the sun at all costs while being treated with this acid. However, avoid using it if you are under retinoid treatments , its use is not recommended if a situation arises. Taking Glycolic Acid does not require many restrictions, but the ones that do exist you should really follow.

Homemade peeling with Glycolic Acid, can it be done?

The application of Glycolic Acid in a home space is not something new, many people prefer to do it from the comfort of their home, controlling the concentrations, the time to leave, the layers, and the way of use before going to the center where they are made these dermo-aesthetic procedures in which, it can be said that they lose control of the situation.

Normally, it is recommended that it be applied by a specialist or a person who really has knowledge in the use of this acid. However, under good care, taking into account the necessary precautions, there should not be any problems or unwanted situations.

What are the necessary ingredients to apply a peel?

There may be the possibility that these ingredients vary according to the preferences of the person who is going to apply it as well as the time, these can be:

  • Water, necessarily that it is distilled and not just “normal”, since it has undergone a purification process unlike ordinary water, which could have an element that makes the acid react .

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  • Sodium bicarbonate, it has the ability to act as a neutralizer of this acid.
  • Glycolic Acid with a concentration based on the results that the person wishes to obtain, as has been said before in this article, the concentrations must be low to maintain a risk margin as low as possible. The maximum recommended is 50%.
  • Moisturizing product, this can be from creams such as rosehip to hyaluronic acid to avoid adverse reactions.

Some people add products like:

  • Specific compounds that degrease the skin.
  • Soothing mask.
  • Repairing cream.
  • Sunscreen 50+ SPF.

What are the steps to follow for a homemade peel?

The determined steps can also undergo small changes according to taste as well as the ingredients, but in essence they are very similar. First, you need to mix the Glycolic Acid with water (50% max.) For this, it is necessary to be clear about the amount of mixture we are going to use, in this way, half the acid and half water are mixed in a small container.

Then, we proceed to make a second mixture, it should be like a paste ; it will be made of baking soda and water. When we have the two mixtures ready, we proceed to clean our face, removing make-up first, if you have a toning product on hand, feel free to add it, just like a product to degrease the skin.

By having our skin clean and without being greasy, we apply the acid, some people prefer to use a makeup brush for this. From the same moment that the acid comes into contact with our skin in the first brush, we must let the clock run for three minutes .

In that instant of time, we must finish applying the Glycolic Acid, starting with the forehead and going down while it is applied evenly, until reaching the chin, we must take special care in areas such as the eyes and lips since they should not be exposed to acid due to the sensitivity of this area.

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Then, after those three minutes we must begin to apply the second mixture, which has bicarbonate, making this the function of neutralizing mask, which we will leave for the same time (2 or 3 minutes). At the end of that period, we proceed to wash the face with cold water, which gives a certain refreshing sensation to the burning, typical of acids.

Having finished the application, it is necessary that we smear our faces with moisturizing cream or hyaluronic acid to help with the moisturizing effects of the product, we must also place a layer of sunscreen that avoids the damage of our work done.

It is necessary to emphasize that we must know how many layers we are going to wear, everything in excess is bad, it is also necessary that we be very prudent and restricted with time for the same reason. One piece of information is that we must wait a week or two before the next session.

Can Glycolic Acid be used in other areas of the body?

Glycolic Acid, despite being generally used on the face and / or neck, can also be applied to other parts of the body such as the arms, hands, abdomen, since its properties are consistent on the skin as such, without distinction of the area to apply it; although the care and recommendations would remain the same, hydrating, neutralizing, without variations.

Without a doubt we can exfoliate a large part of our body with it, due to its great revitalizing properties that it brings to the skin, if you have a lot of acne on the back and shoulders, you could perform an exfoliation with this product as long as your doctor recommend it and consider it prudent.

Now, you must considerably respect the duration of the sessions and you should not abuse it, if you like to do these exfoliations yourself, do not do it so often as it will weaken your skin and you will not provide a proper recovery and regeneration time.

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If you are going to use it in much larger areas, you will have to be super aware of the side effects in these areas, so the burning and irritation will be felt in a greater proportion and for a longer time .

And in this same way you will have to forget for a long time a summer vacation to the beach or any place that involves greater exposure to the sun and harmful ultraviolet rays.

Does Glycolic Acid Really Work?

The number of people looking to use Glycolic Acid to treat blemishes on their skin, as well as those ordered by their dermatologist to do so, is immense. There are many testimonies that its use has really caused positive effects , giving the changes desired by the individual.

It is so much so, that people with severe cases have been prescribed to use Glycolic Acid, of course, that this happens under medical supervision; following exact indications of how to apply it, the duration of the treatment and more.

Glycolic acid in pregnant women

If you are pregnant, it is not recommended that you use this product , since it can cause a lot of damage to the baby such as malformations; although they are not very frequent, but it is always better to prevent.

Now, once the gestation time is over, you can make use of this product with greater peace of mind as long as you are not breastfeeding because milk can also suffer some alterations.

With pregnancy it is very common to observe blemished skin, that is why this product would help you, since it would clarify the entire upper layer of the skin, thus achieving a totally uniform color and tone.

This acid could also help you recover all the collagen and melanin lost in the skin, since it manages to reactivate the production of these two elements in the dermis, returning it to its youthful appearance.

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Pregnancy usually leaves the annoying and uncomfortable stretch marks, this is due to the constant changes in weights and hormones that occur throughout the gestation period, Glycolic Acid can help you correct them, improving the color and elasticity of the skin in that area. of the body.

To treat stretch marks, it is recommended to be constant in the treatment , since it is not something so simple to solve. Remember that this should only be used when you are no longer in a state of pregnancy so as not to put the health of the unborn child at risk.

Beauty standards vary constantly , and are sometimes very difficult to achieve, the use of unnecessary products together with a reckless application, have led a large number of people to regret it. Glycolic Acid does not pose many threats and it is not high risk, however, that does not say that it should be used.

If the person does not have the knowledge to carry out this process, and the necessary precautions, it is more feasible not to do it before exposing themselves to adverse reactions that are not at all desired, which instead of favoring us in terms of the imperfection we want to treat, can worsen and add things that weren’t there and we didn’t want to. Therefore, being cautious is better.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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