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What exactly is glycolic acid and what are its benefits?

Glycolic acid is actually the same as fruit acid or alpha-hydroxy acid, which will be recognized by many as one of the most common ingredients of various products for skin care. A very important characteristic of this acid is its ability to penetrate the skin, and when applied, it practically burns one layer of the skin because it affects the lipids, which are responsible for holding the dead skin cells together. Due to this reaction, the outermost layer of the skin can be exfoliated, while live skin cells are being exposed, which improves the appearance and the texture of the skin, thus giving it smoother, tighter and younger look. This is why glycolic acid can be used when wrinkles or acne scarring need to be treated and reduced, as well as in cases of various skin conditions, such as hyperpigmentation, actinic keratosis, seborrheic keratosis and others.

Are there any side effects?

It is necessary to be very careful when using glycolic acid, particularly when having in mind that it is a strong irritant and it can be dangerous if ingested. Generally, over the counter skin care products do not have high concentration of this acid, so it is not dangerous to use them, but products that are used in dermatology offices as facial cleansers, creams or chemical peels can contain as much as 50% concentration of glycolic acid.

However, those who have sensitive skin simply need to be careful, because their skin might be irritated easily, or redness and burning sensation might be present after using a product that contains this ingredient. This is not a serious side effect, but it indicates that some other product with lower concentration of glycolic acid should be tried out.

Among the most common side effects of glycolic acid peel are dryness, flaking, crusting and scarring of the skin, while changes in the tone are extremely rare. If any of them occurs, a dermatologist should definitely be consulted. Still all these problems can be avoided if products with lower concentration of this acid are used. Also, a good piece of advice would be to wear a sunscreen regularly if some facial cleanser with glycolic acid is being used every day, because the skin might become more sensitive to the sun and more susceptible to damage, particularly the skin that is already more sensitive.

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