What it is:
Glycolic Acid (or hydroxyacetic acid) belongs to the family of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), a group of natural substances derived from fruits. Glycolic Acid itself is derived from sugar cane.
What it does:
Glycolic Acid is an exfoliant. It dissolves the “glue” that holds the dead skin cells to the surface, allowing them to peel off. In addition, it quickens the rate of cell turnover and boosts collagen and elastin production. As a result, skin looks smoother and wrinkles less pronounced. It is also effective at treating hyperpigmentation.
Glycolic Acid also has the ability to draw moisture into the newly-exfoliated skin, keeping it moisturized.
High concentrations of Glycolic Acid can be irritating and should be administered only by a skilled medical professional.
Glycolic Acid can leave the skin more sensitive to the sun, so it is recommended to use a sunscreen after exfoliation.
(Sources: Dermatologic Surgery, October 1998, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, December 2008, and Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed, February 2003)
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