glycolic acid benefits

Glycolic acid is water-soluble and made from sugar cane. It is one of the most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in skincare products. AHAs are natural acids derived from plants. They are made up of tiny molecules that are easily absorbed by the skin. Glycolic acid benefits the skin by improving skin texture and providing other anti-aging benefits. It produces noticeable results in your skin after a few weeks of use.

Glycolic acid benefits 

If you are wondering what exactly does glycolic acid does to your skin then here are are a few ways in which glycolic acid benefits the skin:

  • Anti-aging:  It smoothens fine wrinkles and improves the tone and texture of the skin.
  • Sun damage: It hydrates the skin and keeps it from drying out.
  • Exfoliation: It helps the skin shed dead skin cells, which prevents ingrown hairs and makes pores appear smaller. 
  • Complexion: When used on a regular basis, it brightens the skin and improves the overall skin complexion
  • Acne: It cleans pores, which helps to prevent blackheads, and inflamed breakouts.

However, it is important to note that glycolic acid can cause skin irritation, redness, or dryness, especially when used in high concentrations or on sensitive skin. To find the right balance for your skin, start with a low percentage of glycolic acid and gradually increase the concentration.

It is important to note that glycolic acid can increase sun sensitivity as well, so when using products containing this ingredient, using sunscreen is a must.

glycolic acid benefits

How Glycolic Acid Works?

When applied to the skin, glycolic acid dissolves the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, allowing them to be easily removed. This exfoliation process exposes the fresh, new skin beneath and can help to improve skin texture and tone. Furthermore, glycolic acid can stimulate collagen production, which can improve skin elasticity and firmness.

Glycolic acid is present in a wide range of skincare products, including cleansers, toners, masks, and moisturizers. It is typically formulated at a concentration of 8-10%, but concentrations as high as 70% have been found. It is generally safe for most skin types, but those with sensitive skin should start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it. The best time to use it is at night because the acid is neutralized by sunlight during the day.

Glycolic acid benefits for acne

  1. Glycolic acid can help acne in a variety of ways. To begin with, glycolic acid can help to unclog pores and reduce the buildup of oil and bacteria that can lead to acne by exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells.
  2. Second, by stimulating collagen production and encouraging the growth of new skin cells, glycolic acid can help to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
  3. Third, glycolic acid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in the reduction of acne-related redness and inflammation.
  4. Glycolic acid also helps to reduce the production of sebum, an oily substance that can clog pores and cause acne.

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Glycolic acid for hyperpigmentation

  1. It can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, which is skin darkening caused by an excess of melanin.
  2. Glycolic acid works by exfoliating the skin’s top layer, which can help lighten dark spots and even out skin tone.
  3.  Furthermore, glycolic acid can stimulate collagen production, which improves skin elasticity and firmness.

It is important to note that high concentrations of glycolic acid can cause skin irritation, redness, and dryness, so it is best to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it over time. It is also critical to use sunscreen when using glycolic acid.

Also, it’s important to know that hyperpigmentation can be caused by various factors such as sun exposure, hormonal changes, acne, and certain medical conditions, so it’s important to address the underlying cause of hyperpigmentation in addition to using glycolic acid.

glycolic acid for hyperpigmenttion

Glycolic acid vs salicylic acid

Glycolic Acid Salicylic Acid
Type of acid Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA).
Source Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane. Salicylic acid is derived from willow bark.
Depth of penetration AHAs like glycolic acid exfoliates the surface of the skin. BHAs like Salicylic acid has the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin and unclog pores.
Best for Glycolic acid is best for improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Salicylic acid is best for acne-prone skin.
pH level The ideal pH level for glycolic acid is around 3.5-4.0 Salicylic acid works best at pH of around 3.0-3.5

DIY glycolic acid at home

You can make your own glycolic acid scrub at home with ingredients like sugar, yogurt, and honey.

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of yogurt

And combine all these ingredients together to make a homemade glycolic acid scrub.  The sugar exfoliates the skin physically, while the yogurt and honey hydrate and nourish it. This mixture can then be used as a scrub on the skin.

It is important to remember that homemade solutions may not be as stable or consistent as professionally formulated products, and they may not provide the same benefits. It’s also important to note that using high concentrations of acid at home can cause skin irritation, redness, and even chemical burns.

Glycolic acid side effects

Glycolic acid is generally considered safe for most skin types when used as directed. However, some people may experience side effects when using products containing glycolic acid.

The following are common side effects:

  • Irritation and redness
  • Skin flakiness and dryness
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Itching

In rare cases, some people may have an allergic reaction to glycolic acid. Hives, itching, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of an allergic reaction. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop using the product and seek medical attention right away.


Glycolic acid benefits the skin in ways we can’t imagine. Overall, glycolic acid can be an effective acne treatment ingredient because it exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores, reduces acne scarring, and has anti-inflammatory properties. The acid dissolves the bonds that hold the skin cell layers together, allowing the outer layer of dead skin cells to be removed, revealing younger, smoother skin.

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Which fruit contains glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring compound, which means it exists in nature and is produced by plants. It is particularly abundant in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. Other fruits that contain glycolic acid include kiwi, sugarcane, and even grapes.

Can I use glycolic acid everyday?

Yes, depending on the concentration, you can use glycolic acid on a daily basis. If you’re new to chemical exfoliants, and if you use them on a daily basis, you risk damaging your skin barrier by over-exfoliating. Do not use it on wet skin! Glycolic acid increases sun sensitivity, so a good sunscreen is required.

Which is better salicylic acid or glycolic acid?

Salicylic acid and glycolic acid are both effective ingredients for treating a variety of skin issues, but they work in different ways. Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that is effective for treating acne and unclogging pores. Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that is excellent for exfoliation and improving skin texture. Depending on your skin type, select the one that suits you best.

Does glycolic acid brighten skin?

Glycolic acid won’t lighten or whiten your skin tone. Because it is not a skin-lightening (as in whitening) substance, glycolic acid does remove dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

What does glycolic acid do for face?

When you apply glycolic acid, it works to break the bonds between the outer layer of skin cells, including dead skin cells, and the next layer of skin cells. This produces a peeling effect, making the skin appear smoother and more even.

Reviewed By Dr. Tambe (Ayurvedic Practioner) Dr. Tambe is an Ayurvedic Consultant, practicing in Satara City, Maharashtra for the last 45 years. He comes from a long line of Ayurvedic doctors. His grandfather and father were both Vaidyas, therefore he wanted to continue the family legacy. This year, his family will celebrate 100 years of Ayurvedic service.

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