GLYCOLIC ACID. Friend or foe?

It’s the go-to ‘anti-ageing’ ingredient to reveal smoother, younger, brighter skin cells. BUT did you know that Glycolic is also used as an industrial-strength chemical cleaner? Did you know that Glycolic Acid produced on mass-scale is synthesised from formaldehyde?! Is it possible that we’ve now overdosed on this active, and in the process caused irreparable damage to the health of the skin? Have we become addicted to Glycolic? (In a word, YES!!!)

We are addicted to that silky, baby smooth feeling that AHAs, like Glycolic Acid, leave behind. ‘Instant Gratification’ is now entrenched in our culture, and let’s face it, Glycolic Acid is a quick fix!

It’s found in everything from professional peeling solutions to serums, from cleansers to toners, from masks to moisturisers – name a skincare brand, and chances are it uses Glycolic Acid!


Before we get to the punch line, let’s look at why Glycolic Acid has been ‘heroed’ for the past 3 decades…..

  • Brilliant exfoliant
  • Brightening action
  • Softens lines and wrinkles
  • Decrease scar tissue, melasma

(Sounds pretty good hey!) But before we go reaching for a Glycolic Serum, let’s first look at the side effects….

  • Temporary or long lasting redness
  • Stinging/burning
  • Peeling, flaking
  • Dryness
  • Pigmentation
  • Impaired barrier function…. hmmmmm, not so great

The reality is, that there are no long-term benefits to using Glycolic Acid.

In fact, these side effects can lead to an acceleration of the ageing process through impaired barrier function and inflammation, not to mention increased sensitivity to the environment.

So….. Is there a better way you ask – ABSOLUTELY!


Given the advancement in professional strength skin care ingredients, there are far superior raw materials out there that can have the perfect anti-ageing effect, without the side effects that Glycolic Acid has.

Here’s the deal:

  • Use GA only as prescribed by a specialist professional
  • Use GA only in synergy with other acids which can buffer eachother
  • Use sparingly, with caution, and at low concentrations
  • Rather incorporate fruit enzymes for a non-irritating, yet very effective exfoliation (Skinfaktor’s Enzyme Exfoliant is a MUST HAVE)
  • DON’T BUY GLYCOLIC PEELS ONLINE & DIY- it’s low quality, often unbuffered and extremely irritating on the skin
  • IF YOU FEEL DRY, DON’T — USE GLYCOLIC ACID – it will only dry out your skin more

And remember the golden rule when it comes to AHAs – KNOW YOUR pH. Be sure to ask what the pH of your AHA product is, to determine the TRUE STRENGTH 🙂

One Reply to “GLYCOLIC ACID. Friend or foe?”

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