Hydroxyacetic acid, which is otherwise known as glycolic acid, is the smallest member of the Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids (AHAs). It is a hygroscopic acid, which means it quickly absorbed moisture from its surrounding. It is highly soluble in water. It’s can be bought as hygroscopic crystalline solid and is without odor and color. It is also considered to be a natural fruit acid as it can be derived from sugarcane. It is readily absorbed by skin and is very beneficial as an exfoliating agent. Hence it’s used widely in skin care products. Given below are 8 ways in which glycolic acid is used to smoothen the skin and enhance one’s looks.
How glycolic acid enhances the skin.
1. When applied as a chemical peel, it penetrates the skin easily. It then keratolyzes the epidermis. As a result it destroys the substances that bind the upper dead layer of the skin with the lower lying layers. This causes the dead upper layer to appear as flakes (exfoliation) which fall off after some time. The exposed lower layer appears glowing and well moisturized. For this reason, it is very useful in treating acne scars, wrinkles, hyper pigmentation, white-heads, blackheads, dry skin, pustules and freckles. Besides, it is also used in treating skin conditions like seborrheic keratosis, psoriasis, ichthyosis, actinic keratosis and hyperkeratosis.
2. It cleanses the pores of the skin. The dead cells and secretions inside the pores can become a pulp and clog it. Glycolic acid loosens this pulp and helps it flow out of the pores. This allows the secretion of necessary natural oils that keep your skin healthy.
3. It disables the anti-oxidants in the skin which makes your skin old. Thus it gives a young look to your face when applied.
4. Scars are reduced in size and depth as the acid eats away the upper layers with each application. Repeated application will slowly reduce the thickness of the scars and help them merge with the surrounding skin. This is useful in the removal of hypertrophic scars and ice pick scars. When applied in areas with cysts and pimples, it helps in the growth of new smooth skin.
5. When applied over ingrown hairs, it peels off the upper layer of skin exposing the in growing hair and allowing it to grow outward freely. Thus it prevents redness, inflammation and infection in these areas. For this reason it has been used to reduce pseudofolliculitis barbae in men and women.
6. Glycolic acid increases the content of moisture binding substances in the dermis of skin known as Glycosaminoglycans. This also increases the amount of hyaluronic acid in the dermis. This causes expansion of the dermis. It reduces the size of wrinkles and gives a young look to the skin.
7. As the top layer of the skin is removed after chemical peel using glycolic acid. it reduces the amount of the dark pigment melanin in your skin making you look much fairer than before.
8. It encourages the growth of new elastin and collagen in the dermis. This brings back luster to your skin and helps it retain its elasticity. Thus you have a much younger looking skin after a chemical peel. Skin treatments often combine glycolic acid with Vitamin C, Colostrum and Methylsulfonyl Methane (MSM). These three substances prevent cross linking between the newly growing skin cells in the dermis. This results in a smooth looking skin.
Glycolic acid should always be applied externally and should never be ingested into the body. It can metabolize to oxalic acid. It can also be a strong irritant if the pH levels are not maintained properly. This can happen when handled by untrained physicians and dermatologists.
After a chemical peel, you must rinse thoroughly and apply a generous doze of moisturizers to neutralize the remaining glycolic acid in your skin. Glycolic acid draws in the moisturizers deep into the skin increasing the moisture content of the skin. This causes the skin to look healthy and young. You also need to protect your skin from sunlight after a chemical peep. Else your skin will look sun burnt.