Glycolic AcidGlycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) commonly used as an exfoliant in skincare products. Today, it can be found in multiple skincare cleansers, serums and gels, but the ingredient — most commonly derived from sugar cane juice — has been around for more than 20 years. Tomatoes, pineapples, sour milk, and papaya also contain the fruit acid. This chemical exfoliator (as opposed to a physical exfoliator, like a face scrub) works to brighten the skin and eliminate rough texture by removing dead skin layers that live on top. “It’s a small molecule and this is important because it helps it to penetrate deeper into the skin and work more effectively,” says Dr. Michele Farber, a board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group and Skincare.com. It also helps smooth the look of fine lines and evens out pigmentation. “If you are more dry, a lower percentage product around 5% or one that washes off will be more tolerable,” says Dr. Farber. “A higher percentage (closer to 10%) that’s a leave-on can be used for normal to oily skin.” Currently, in-office glycolic acid peels are becoming increasingly popular, especially for those with acne, since the ingredient is relatively mild compared to other acids commonly used in chemical peels. And, there are a variety of ways to incorporate glycolic acid into your skincare routine as it comes in cleansers, serums, toners and even peels.
An alpha hydroxy acid that may be used as an exfoliant in skin care products.