The promises of glycolic acid in skincare sound almost too good to be true: softer, smoother, younger and clearer looking skin? Sign me up! I had been interested in trying a glycolic acid treatment for a long time but I never knew which one to go for. After discovering Beautypedia and spending far too many hours reading product reviews I finally settled on this one by Acne.org, and the results have been fantastic.
I am by no means getting to the stage where I’m overly concerned with the signs of aging, but I do subscribe to the “prevention is better than treatment” theory. The main benefit I was hoping to get from this product was acne related. As I’ve gotten older my skin has definitely started to change from oily to combination/dry, but I still have frequent breakouts. I also switched birth control methods to a low hormone option. While I’m happy with the switch in all other respects, I now have to contend with hormonal acne. This type of acne shows up on either side of my chin, along my jawline, and some under my chin (which I have never had before and it grosses me out). It’s also generally cystic and can be painful.
Let’s start with the product itself. It has a very simple formula with glycolic acid as the second ingredient. It also contains licorice root extract, which they claim helps to calm the skin. I’m not sure whether or not this is true because this is the only AHA product I’ve tried, but my skin seems to react well to it. It also contains several hydrating ingredients to help prevent over-drying of the skin. It comes in a a much larger tube than I expected (6 oz./178 mL), and it’s also available in a larger bottle with a pump (16 oz./473 mL). The packaging is opaque which prevents light from destabilizing the product. It contains no sulfates, dyes, or paraben preservatives. It should be suitable for all skin types except possibly the most sensitive.
Glycolic acid is an AHA, or alpha hydroxy acid. The “alpha hydroxy” portion of the name is simply referencing where an oxygen hydrogen (OH) group is bonded to the molecule. Lactic and citric acids are two other AHAs commonly used in skincare products. AHAs are chemical exfoliants that work by encouraging the topmost layers of the skin to shed. Since a layer of your skin cells is being removed it thins the skin slightly which causes increased sun sensitivity. As a result, using sunscreen when using an AHA is imperative! You should also avoid the delicate skin around your eyes, which won’t take kindly to being exfoliated (I know from accidental experience).
As A Skincare Treatment
I like to use this as a nighttime treatment, after toner and before my moisturizer. I put a thin layer over my face, under my chin, and down my neck slightly. If there are any cystic blemishes I very gently massage the product over those areas of the skin to help it penetrate deeper. If there are any open pimples that have been popped (yes, I know, tsk tsk but it happens) I avoid the area. Putting a strong acid on an open wound stings like a mofo, and annoying your already injured skin isn’t going to help it heal any faster.
I purchased mine from Amazon, and as such the only included instructions were to “apply very gently until absorbed” and be sure to wear sunscreen. I did a patch test on my jawline before putting it all over my face as a precaution. After just a few hours of this being on my skin I could feel a huge difference in the softness of my skin. Needless to say I was very impressed! It took me quite a few weeks of experimenting to figure out how often to use this. Using it too often resulted in the development of even more cystic bumps that were ridiculously painful. Stopping use for a week allowed my skin to calm down, but my pores also started to clog up again.
Currently I’ve settled on an approximate two days on, two days off schedule. Sometimes I take three days off if I feel like my skin needs it. On my days off I focus on using a very hydrating night moisturizer and a salicylic acid spot treatment. This has been making my skin very happy. I have fewer spots, less cystic acne, and it even seems to help post acne marks fade more quickly. My skin is much smoother, the pores in the center of my face are smaller, and makeup applies so much better!
As An Ingrown Hair Treatment
As a bonus, this is also an amazing product to treat and prevent ingrown hairs! I use an epilator on my underarms and around my bikini zone. Even with daily exfoliation with a body scrub I still have trouble with ingrowns. Once or twice a week I like to apply this on both of those trouble areas. Since doing this an alarming number of ingrowns have surfaced from the depths of my epidermis, but it also prevents new stubble from becoming ingrown. As a bonus it makes my skin super soft.
Fair warning: for the love of whatever god you may or may not worship, do NOT apply this on freshly shaven, waxed, or epilated skin. It will burn like the dickens. Shaving causes microscopic cuts in the upper layers of skin, much like a strong exfoliator would. Fun fact, that’s also why going in the ocean right after shaving can sting. Waxing or epilating rips the hair out of its follicle. The follicle extends deep into the skin and has been recently irritated by the hair removal process. Putting an acid over recently irritated skin in general is a big no no. Wait at least a day after hair removal to put this on the skin. For the underarms I also like to remove any leftover product using a damp washcloth in the morning; I find that leaving it on prevents my deodorant from working well.
AHAs have also been shown to help treat the following skin conditions*:
- Dry or flaky skin
- Reduce appearance of dark spots from hyperpigmentation, acne or aging
- Reduce appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Keratosis pilaris
- Ichthyosis vulgaris
A new skincare staple! For me glycolic acid has worked wonders to improve the condition of my skin. It leaves it soft and glowing, reduces the size of pores around my nose, prevents and treats my hormonal acne, and helps those dark post-acne marks fade more quickly. If I have any flaky areas of skin after a breakout this also helps those to clear up quickly too. I also love that it’s a multitasking product that helps treat so many conditions. It’s also inexpensive and you get a lot for your money. The only downside I can find is that it has very limited availability even within the US.
Animal Testing: No; it also states it contains no animal products which makes it suitable for vegans.
|Price per||6 oz. Tube, $18.53||16 oz. Pump Bottle, $32.72|
|1 oz||$3.09 USD||$2.05 USD|
|100mL||$10.41 USD||$6.92 USD|
Is this something you’d want to try? Why or why not? Share in the comments!