Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid: Overview

Made from sugar cane, glycolic acid is the simplest and most effective member of the chemical family referred to as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA).  For centuries, AHAs derived from plants, fruits, milk, and wine have been used as moisturizers and skin fresheners.  Put simply, Glycolic Acid speeds up the skin renewal process.

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Function; Why it is Recommended

Glycolic Acid is the only AHA which is able to penetrate through the cell walls by virtue of its small molecular size.  Once inside the cell, it stimulates the skin to make new, healthier collagen and elastin fibers in the deeper dermis, improving sun damage and wrinkling.  Glycolic Acid also weakens the "glue" holding dead cells on the skin's surface.  When these cells dissolve, smoother, softer skin is revealed.  AHAs also help to unclog pores and thus decrease the tendency for acne to develop.

It has been reported that in combination with MSM, colostrum and vitamins (especially vitamin C), the positive effects can be enhanced.

Glycolic Acid is one of the most effective substances to use in the treatments of many other skin conditions including white-heads, blackheads, pustules, age spots and age-thickened skin.  Studies have demonstrated that AHA products can be used in specific skin care programs to combat:

  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Sun damaged skin
  • Blotchy pigmentation
  • Fine wrinkles


The most effective program consists of daily treatment with a general glycolic acid facial cleanser for 2 to 3 weeks prior to a glycolic acid peel at a higher strength.  It is best to perform a series of peels, typically at 1-week intervals.  After a series of 6 treatments, pause for two months, and then you may start again.  Not all brown spots and pigmentation problems respond to glycolic acid peels.  This is why your dermatologist or plastic surgeon evaluates your skin prior to recommending a particular skin program.  When sun damage is severe, treatments with different agents are required to effectively penetrate more deeply.

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Glycolic Acid:

Glycolic Acid can help with the following:

Environment / Toxicity


Adult Acne

Many over-the-counter products contain high levels of glycolic acid, which is a member of the alpha-hydroxy acid family.  Glycolic acid used topically can effectively promote skin cells to shed more quickly and has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of acne.

Adolescent Acne

Products containing Glycolic Acid have proven very effective in the treatment of acne.


Glycolic acid can be used to treat both seborrheic keratosis, actinic keratosis and hyperkeratosis.

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