The 411 on Glycolic Acid and why it’s your skins BFF

Retinol, AHA’s, Hyaluronic acids, lactic acids, glycolic acids. Some of these words can seem foreign to so many people! It’s like we all know these products promise to be good for our skincare but we’re not quite sure how or why. So last year sometime I started getting much more interested in skincare. I realised how thrilled I was to spend R500 on a foundation but cringed on expensive skincare.  How backward is that? We should be willing to invest in our skin! It’s the only skin we will ever have. One of the first things that I first learnt about and started reading about was Glycolic Acid. This little guy was deemed as a miracle ingredient, a secret weapon.

I felt a little overwhelmed at first with all the terms and how they were beneficial. So, I decided to write up a bit about Glycolic Acid and what it does for your skin! In a simple way as possible.

Glycolic Acid Topknotch

Understanding AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)

Let’s go back a step and talk about AHA’s, meaning Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Acids are good for your skin because they exfoliate away dull, dead skin and gently remove discolorations over time of repeated us. Generally we talk about AHA’s and BHA’s. AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) target the surface layers of the skin, while BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) also unclog pores. AHA’s are a group of naturally occurring “fruit acids” that can be found in food.

As mentioned by Dermastore ¹ AHAs work by loosening the glue-like substance that holds dull and dead skin cells on the topmost layer of your skin, revealing newer, healthier skin.

So what is special about Glycolic Acid?

Where does it come from? Glycolic acid is derived from plants – for example sugar cane, pineapple and sugar beets.

How does it work? It works by actually destroying the bonds between old skin cells, freeing them so they can be sloughed off. It can effectively remove the outermost layer of dead cells from ones complexion, revealing brighter, fresher skin.  Because of this, it is considered to be the “holy grail” for exfoliation.

Glycolic Acid is particularly effective because it has the smallest molecular size of all the AHAs and is the most bioavailable and active, which allows it to penetrate the skin the most easily. Additionally, Glycolic Acid has also been shown to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. This means that with continuous use, Glycolic Acid can assist with the acceleration of skin healing and the reduction of signs of environmental damage.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid for your skin

A variety of factors, (for example, aging and dryness), can slow down skin’s natural shedding process leading to a dull, lackluster complexion. That’s where Glycolic Acid comes in. As mentioned above, the standout benefit is that it releases and dissolves dead skin cells. This helps with unblocking pores and blackheads. Because of this, it is also used as an acne treatment to target the deep blockages of dead skin cells and sebum. And good news, it can also help to reduce fine lines and signs of premature ageing. Why? As it helps with increasing cell turnover. This means that younger, healthier cells are now visible on the skin’s surface. Say goodbye to roughness and hello to soft, smooth baby like skin. Glycolic acid is definitely a skin-smoothing miracle worker.

If you’ve ever battled with keratosis pilaris, there are many people who have used Glycolic Acid to combat this.

Information to keep in mind when using products with Glycolic Acid

However, even the most effective and powerful ingredients always come with a few ‘things to consider:

  1. Make double sure to wear sunscreen the next day. While we all know wearing sunscreen it important, it’s even more important when you’re using AHA’s. Your skin is new and tender, making it more susceptible to sunburn.
  2. Build up your tolerance to products such as this. Using a too high percentage at first could cause redness or flaking.  Try to start off with a low percentage, and see how your skin adapts
  3. As mentioned above, some individuals can experience some redness or flaking. If you do, do not pick at it! Picking at this can cause pigmentation and ultimately, scarring.

what is Glycolic Acid topknotch

What Glycolic Acid am I currently using?

Currently, because I am still getting used to Glycolic Acid and am still new to adding this to my routine, I’m using a very mild product. I’m currently using the Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, which you can purchase from their online store. This is a very mild Glycolic Acid, it contains 1%, Perfect for your first experience with Glycolic Acid if you’ve never used it before.

I think for me the ultimate splurge is the Skinceuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight which is currently on my save-up list! This stuff delivers a true 10% glycolic acid value to skin and promotes cellular turnover.

Do you incorporate Glycolic Acid into your routine?



9 Reasons Glycolic Acid Is the Miracle Your Skin Has Been Waiting For




  1. Candice
    June 12, 2018 / 10:17 am

    This is so informative post!

    Candice | Natalya Amour

  2. June 12, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Wonderful post!
    I adore using glycolic – have you tried the dr dermal Texture Correction Pads? They contain professional strength glycolic acid, and give you the most incredible skin!

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