Ingredient Spotlight: Glycolic Acid

You may think that the only exfoliators on the market are gritty little scrubbers, or products with beads or granules in them. Think again.

Chemical exfoliators offer the same smooth results but are far less irritating to your skin. Never heard of chemical exfoliators? You’re in luck. We’re here to teach you about one of our favorite chemical exfoliants: Glycolic Acid. And don’t be scared of the word acid! This acid is one you’ll want to get your skin familiar with.

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is one of the best chemical exfoliators out there. Small but mighty, doctors and dermatologists alike can attest to glycolic acid yielding the best overall results for the largest crowd. Those results are thanks to glycolic acid’s small molecule makeup which allows it to penetrate almost any skin type without irritation.

Glycolic acid falls into the category of alpha hydroxy acids, AHAs, which are naturally occurring substances found in milk, cane sugar and fruits. These are gentle and robust exfoliants that work well on almost any skin type and can treat a variety of skin concerns. In its raw state, glycolic acid is an unscented, colorless crystal powder and it can be found in both everyday cleansers and facial washes as well as in spa-grade skin treatments and facials.

How does glycolic acid work in skincare?

Glycolic acid easily penetrates through your top layer of (dead) skin cells thanks to its chemical makeup. What exactly does that mean? It’s got teeny-tiny molecules that squeeze through small pores and then work hard to break down and dissolve all those dead cells, sebum and dirt trapped in your skin — and reveal a far more refreshed complexion.

It also has the ability to transfer water from the air into your skin to replenish lost moisture, making it effective in lotions and scrubs. It has also been shown to plump the skin by boosting collagen production and increasing cell turnover (aka telling your skin to shed its old cells and create new ones)!

Who benefits from using glycolic acid?

A number of people dealing with various skin conditions can benefit from using glycolic acid. If you suffer from acne, whether hormonal or situational, it’s a great way to chemically exfoliate your skin without creating more redness or excessive irritation. Glycolic acid is also incredibly beneficial in treating uneven skin tone or texture, hyperpigmentation, and scarring from acne.

SLMD's Resurfacing Acne Swipes were formulated with Glycolic Acid, along with Lactic Acid and Salicylic Acid to target the above concerns — gently and easily with a pre-soaked swipe. 

If you’re experiencing rough, dry skin on your body, look for a glycolic acid-infused body lotion or body scrub, like SLMD's Glycolic Acid Body Lotion or SLMD's Glycolic Acid Body Scrub, which will help smooth out your skin by exfoliating away patches of dead skin. Both can be found in SLMD's Body Smoothing System

If you’re dealing with a stubborn ingrown hair, this scrub is also your go to! Use it and resist the urge to pluck it out with your tweezers or fingers. This can lead to an infection from introducing new bacteria to an already infected area.

Along with treating the above conditions, glycolic acid can also be beneficial for treating early signs of aging. It is able to boost collagen production and keep skin supple (which diminishes with age). It’s not a replacement for your other anti-aging products, but a great addition to your routine.


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