What is Glycolic Acid?

By definition:

Glycolic acid is a colourless, translucent, crystalline compound, that is found in cane sugar, unripe grapes, and sugar beets. You may have also seen it listed as an , AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid. : Other AHA’s include, lactic (milk), citric (oranges and lemons), malic (apples and pears) and tartaric acids (grapes).

However, glycolic is the most common and touted as being one of the safest forms of AHA’s . It has the ability to penetrate skin surface layers due to its small molecular size. It is in fact the smallest AHA.

Now, what you really need to know is what can it do for your skin?

As we age, our cell turn-over slows down which means that dead skin cells stay around longer, creating a dull appearance to our skin instead of a fresh, dewy one.

Our skin forms fine lines and appears crepey, not a look we were going for.

Glycolic acid loosens the glue that holds these dead skin cells on, allowing them to slough off naturally and allowing healthier cells to rise to the surface more quickly than they would normally.

So essentially glycolic acid is an exfoliator.

It also is an excellent treatment for unclogging pores that create acne and blackheads. Over time, glycolic acid can also lighten pigmentation.

How Do You Use Glycolic?

There are home care products that you use daily as serums, creams, cleansers etc. and you have an option to get a higher strength dose of glycolic acid into your skin in the form of chemical peels performed at a doctor’s office. When choosing take-home products, look for the brands that contain a minimum of 10% glycolic acid to get the best benefits for your skin. Don’t be alarmed by the tingle or sting, if it’s doing its magic, you will feel it. The sensation should subside in a few minutes but if it doesn’t or it gets worse, more towards a burning sensation, wash it off.

Chemical peels can contain up to 50% and 80%. These glycolic peels must be applied by a qualified professional and are only left on for several minutes.


  • Make sure you are using suncreen SPF 30 everyday during the time you are using glycolic acids as it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays.
  • Don’t use within a week of any hair removal treatments, before or after.
  • Do not use on broken or irritated skin.

If you haven’t tried glycolic acid products or peels you will surprised how quickly it can make your skin softer, smoother and more radiant.

Some of Our Favourite Skincare Products with Glycolic acid:

The following home skincare products contain Glycolic. If you have any questions about home treatments, please call 604-261-9121.

Skin Medica GlyPro System

SkinCeuticals – Retexturing Activator

SkinCeuticals – Simply Clean Cleanser

SkinCeuticals – Blemish and Age Cleansing Gel

SkinCeuticals – Blemish and Age Defense

SkinCeuticals – Clarifying Clay Masque

by M. Wally

Age is a state of mind. Aging is a treatable condition.


604.261.9121 Map