Glycolic acid has been a skincare rockstar for decades due to its unparalleled ability to kick skin cell turnover into high gear and increase the efficacy of other active ingredients. But despite its nearly towering status in the world of skincare, certain misconceptions still abound.
Sanitas experts weigh in on some common questions about glycolics and happily explain how to get the most benefit from this highly transformative, yet often times misunderstood, skincare staple.
Why does glycolic acid dry my skin out and make it all flaky?
OK, we hear this one a lot. The first thing to consider is that not all glycolic formulas are created equal. There is a world of difference between a buffered AHA and an unbuffered AHA, which is critical when it comes to minimizing irritation and sensitivity.
For example, combining glycolic acid with amino acids such as glycine and arginine form complexes that prolong the release of free acid, which in turn, helps reduce irritation and extend exfoliating benefits.
In addition, adding a powerful humectant, such as sodium PCA, further binds moisture to skin cells and protects the acid mantle, reducing inflammation, preventing irritation and actually increasing hydration levels.
End result? Don’t give up yet. What your flaky, dry skin might need most is as simple as a correctly designed formula that delivers glycolic acid’s coveted benefits with minimal unwanted side effects.
Frequency is also a common culprit. If you’re experiencing redness and irritation, it might be time to step back and reevaluate your program. The skin needs time to respond and rebuild post-stimulation. Think of this as an evolving process and check in with your skin regularly. Light shedding and pinkness means you’re on track. Excessively flaking, red skin plus sensitivities means it’s time to slow your roll and give your skin a break.
Isn’t glycolic acid just for aging skin?
Absolutely not! Glycolic acid can be a powerful part of a skincare program that actually helps prevent signs of aging. Collagen and elastin are an integral part of the support structure of the skin and determine how firm and smooth it appears. Since robust production of these important connective tissues begins to slow in your early 30s, using AHAs sooner rather than later can help to proactively strengthen and support the structure of your skin. Bonus points go to glycolic acid’s ability to help even skin tone and fight signs of UV inflicted photo-damage.
How often should I be using glycolics?
Every other day, and we’ll tell you why.
Glycolic acid needs to be used mindfully in conjunction with nourishing ingredients such as vitamin c and hyaluronic acid. The goal with AHAs is to push the skin to become stronger but also allow to it fully recover and rebuild. What you use between treatments is just as important as the treatment itself.
And while we are talking about when and how often, let’s also touch on a few non-negotiables. When using any type of AHA, you must use a full spectrum sun block to protect your brand new, freshly exfoliated and emerging skin cells from environmental damage such as pollution and UV rays. This means every day, year round, no matter how much time you think you actually spend in the sun. Those UVA rays are going to hunt you down and find you so make sure you are safeguarding and protecting your skin at all times.
How do I use glycolic acid with other active ingredients?
This can get a little deep depending on how many other actives are part of your program, but let’s take a look at a few possible scenarios. We’ll walk you through it.
I’ve been using AHAs for a while. How do I know it’s time to step up my game and go for a stronger formulation?
Pretty much the same way you know when it’s time to add more weight to your bicep curls, extend your runs or hold your plank longer. If you are no longer seeing results from the same routine, it’s time to take it to the next level. Ramping up your AHA use through progressive formulations is one of the cornerstones of our ingredient philosophy which is why we offer our GlycoSolutions in three ascending strengths ranging from 5% to 15%.