Ask the Expert: What Is a Glycolic Acid Peel?
Glycolic acid is a common ingredient in skin care, found in a wide range of skin care products including serums and cleansers. It’s an exfoliator, known for its ability to slough away dead skin cells from skin’s surface that can cause a dull skin appearance and rough texture. “Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used for decades as a peel and exfoliating ingredient in skin care products,” says board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Ted Lain.
When incorporating products with glycolic acid into your skin care routine, among the benefits you can expect is radiant-looking skin. After all, glycolic acid can help slough away those dead cells that inhibits the way your skin catches the light. As Dr. Lain mentioned, glycolic acid can be used in chemical peels, an increasingly popular in-office treatment. While there are a number of acids that can be used in chemical peels, glycolic acid is often a go-to ingredient because it’s gentle and mild, at least compared to some of the other acids out there. Below, discover everything you need to know about glycolic acid peels.
WHAT IS A GLYCOLIC ACID PEEL?
Now, let’s get down to the basics of a glycolic acid peel. “When used as a peel, glycolic acid is applied to the skin and then removed after a length of time,” says Dr. Lain. “Depending on the strength of the peel, the downtime lasts from 1-3 days.” So, what should you expect when you get a glycolic acid peel? According to Dr. Lain, this skin care treatment has a bounty of benefits. “The benefits are numerous, and are augmented by both good daily skin care and repeating peels on a monthly basis,” he says. “A single peel results in improved skin tone and texture, lasting for about a week. Investing in monthly peels will have many benefits, including improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, uneven texture, and acne.”
The proof is in the science: on top of being easy to administer and short in downtime, a review published by Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that glycolic acid peels have antioxidant effects. The review also noted that glycolic acid peels can be helpful in improving the overall look of acne and lesion scars on participants.
WHO CAN TRY A GLYCOLIC ACID PEEL?
Although the notion of applying acids onto your skin can be intimidating, there’s really not much to fear. Dr. Lain says that a glycolic acid peel is gentle enough for most everyone. “A mild glycolic acid peel benefits all skin types, even those with sensitive skin,” he says. With that being said, if you have sensitive skin you may want to refrain from higher-strength peels and stick to the milder versions. “Higher strength peels are more suitable for those with normal to oily complexions,” says Dr. Lain.
There are of course some common side effects associated with glycolic acid peels. Dr. Lain notes that you may experience some redness and mild peeling or flaking, but it shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. If side effects last for longer or worsen, pay a visit to your skin care provider.
WHERE TO GET A GLYCOLIC ACID PEEL
Ready to make the leap and try out a glycolic acid peel? Make an appointment with your dermatologist’s office or trusted skin care provider. Most glycolic acid peels can be completed during a lunch break. Always make sure you get any skin care treatments done by a licensed professional. Learn more about the risks of heading to unlicensed providers here.
If you’re interested in using glycolic acid at home, reach for mild glycolic acid peel pads like L’Oreal Paris’ RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Peel Pads. They’re a derm-inspired anti-wrinkle and brightening treatment formulated with glycolic acid, able to resurface dull, uneven tone and rough texture to reveal youthful-looking skin. Instantly you can say hello to skin that looks bright and luminous with that sought-after lit-from-within glow.