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The Facts About Glycolic Acid Treatments
The skin care benefits of regular exfoliation have long been known. But exfoliation products and techniques have advanced significantly in the last decade. From abrasive washes and aggressive scrubs, to delicate chemical serums, exfoliation regimens have changed dramatically.
Acid-based peels, especially those containing glycolic acid, have evolved into one of the most effective cosmetic tools in exfoliating and improving skin texture, tone, smoothness, clarity and “glow.”
With glycolic acid appearing in an increasing number of skin-care treatments, we thought there was no better time to dive into this popular treatment. In this article, board-certified Birmingham, MI plastic surgeon Dr. Ali deconstructs the fundamentals of this popular skin-smoothing acid.
What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a natural but powerful chemical exfoliant produced from sugar cane. Specifically, it is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
Among all AHAs — including lactic, citric, and malic — glycolic acid has the smallest particle size and the simplest structure, making it the most potent and effective since it penetrates our skin the best.
As glycolic penetrates the face with its minuscule-but-mighty molecules, the AHA loosens and sloughs away dead skin cells in the top layers of the skin that are contributing to dullness and roughness. As a consequence, the new skin underneath is revealed, leaving a more smooth, radiant, and clear complexion.
Glycolic acid’s peeling functions also help erase dark spots and other hyperpigmentation. Additionally, by removing the dead skin cells that block pores, breakouts are less likely – and other skin-care products can then enter the skin more easily.
The potent exfoliating acid also contributes to the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles owing to its tiny size molecules. Glycolic acid is capable of penetrating deep into the dermis, where the skin’s collagen and elastin structure are located. Glycolic acid stimulates new collagen fibroblast production, resulting in firmer, tighter-looking skin.
Good Candidates for Glycolic Acid Treatments
Glycolic acid is safe and effective for all skin types but is particularly beneficial for individuals with oily or acne-prone skin. However, patients with dry, sensitive skin, should use glycolic acid treatments sparingly, particularly if they have rosacea or eczema.
Glycolic acid treatments include a variety of glycolic acid concentrations — from as little as 5% to as much as 20%. In addition, solutions are available that combine glycolic acid with hydrating substances like urea, glycerin, and triglycerides. So, our skilled and experienced skin care providers can choose solutions that address each patient’s specific skin problems.
Uses of Glycolic Acid
Patients with acne-prone skin or significant sun damage will benefit from a higher dose than those seeking mild exfoliation to lighten discoloration or hyperpigmentation of the skin.
Sensitive skin types should seek products and treatments with low glycolic acid concentrations, ideally less than 10%, and use them less often. “Less is more,” with glycolic acid for patients with dry or sensitive skin who want to discover the optimum benefits of smoother, brighter skin without peeling.
Frequency of Glycolic Acid Treatments
Patients should avoid being excessive with glycolic acid use, just because they’re experiencing incredible results. Excessive usage may result in excessive exfoliation, resulting in dryness, irritation, redness, and even more breakouts.
The frequency of usage is determined by the particular treatment(s) included into your skin-care regimen. Some milder glycolic acid at-home products are intended to be used daily, while stronger glycolic facial treatments (such as facials and peels) should be scheduled weeks apart.
Precautions for Glycolic Acid Use
To prevent irritation and weakening the skin’s barrier, avoid using glycolic acid in conjunction with vitamin-A derivatives such as retinol, retinoic acid, or tretinoin. The reason is that since glycolic acid and retinoids both accelerate cell turnover, combining them raises the risk of irritation and dryness. Likewise, aggressive physical or manual exfoliants, like scrubs and certain heavy duty masks should be used very sparingly in conjunction with glycolic acid treatments.
Additionally, we caution patients not to combine AHAs like glycolic acid with vitamin C, since this can cause discomfort. If you use both, begin each day with vitamin C and end with glycolic acid – separated by several hours. Hydroquinone should also be avoided. Assign it to a separate routine — one for the day and one for the night — or substitute an alternative to hydroquinone, such as tranexamic acid or licorice extract.
Glycolic Acid Treatments | Birmingham, MI
As the premier medical spa in Birmingham, MI, AMAE Med Spa implements the latest in glycolic acid treatments, including chemical peels, DiamondGlow, and other customized skin rejuvenation procedures.
Board-certified Birmingham, MI plastic surgeon Dr. Ali and our nurses and licensed medical aestheticians will help you decide which type of glycolic acid treatment or product can best reach your specific skincare goals.
At our Troy, Mi area Med Spa we offer the absolute best technologies and products for acne reduction, hyperpigmentation, skin resurfacing and anti-aging. Schedule a consultation to see which type of treatment is best for your skin type and beauty goals. Then relax in our Birmingham MedSpa we make you look and feel younger and even more beautiful!