Skin Care and Treatments of Melbourne Dermatology - Glycolic Acid

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Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid

View the list of skin care products containing glycolic acid.


Glycolic acid is a colorless, translucent, crystalline compound (C 2 H 4 O 3) that occurs in cane sugar, unripe grapes, and sugar beets.

It has numerous skin care uses and has been extensively studied for its resurfacing, antioxidant and collagen/elastin stimulating properties. Glycolic acid may also be used in treating hyperpigmentation.

It is one of the most beneficial, safe, efficient and affordable skin care ingredients available, providing:

  1. it has been correctly formulated and
  2. support is provided throughout its use by a patient or client.

Virtually all commercial skin care products marketed as containing glycolic acid are useless, having been deliberately formulated so as to be either only slightly acidic, pH neutral or even alkaline, effectively neutralizing the compound's benefits.

We're often asked why this is the case and the answer is simple.

This misleading style of formulation allows manufacturers to claim that their products contain glycolic acid while minimizing the need for any after-sales support that would be associated with a product that has treatment activity (read, the potential for side effects).

They simply don't have the resources to train hordes of transient department store and beauty salon employees — marketing is a cheaper route to sales.

Moreover, customers of those retail channels, particularly in the United States, are increasingly getting into the unfortunate habit of simply suing in the event of dissatisfaction. Ironically enough, the result can only be even more inert skin care.

In these environments and instances, glycolic acid functions as a basic humectant and has no unique therapeutic value.

Above a certain threshold, pH is more important than concentration. Glycolic acid works because it is acidic.

30% glycolic acid is not necessarily better than 10% glycolic acid.

If anything, its harder to get a controlled result with higher percentages.

Stay above 5% but below 20%; pH should be no higher than 4.

Glycolic acid is not inherently irritating — the skin's pH is naturally slightly acidic — however where there is excessive dead cell build up that leads to surface irregularities, open pores, acne or other lesions, tingling and redness can temporarily occur during their removal process.

None of these are desirable skin characteristics and all of them can be resolved through the use of glycolic acid.

As these skin characteristics are resolved by glycolic acid treatment, typically so are any side effects.

Other things to remember about glycolic acid:

  • most people who claim to be allergic to glycolic acid have actually experienced reactions to other ingredients in a formula containing inactive glycolic acid.

  • glycolic acid is simply an acidic water-soluble molecule. Its unique benefits are virtues of its small molecular size and pH.

  • don't let hype drown out the facts and inappropriate use prevent you from benefitting from one of the most useful and dramatically effective skin treatment ingredients of our time.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Skin Care Products containing Available Glycolic Acid (64)

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