Benefits of glycolic acid treatment. How does the procedure look like?

Others by Nicky Trynide

Glycolic acid is obtained from sugarcane juice. It belongs to fruit acids group called Alpha Hydroxy Acids, simply abbreviated to AHA. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecules among all the AHA acids, which allows it to easily penetrate and reach deep skin layers. How does glycolic acid work? What concentration and pH is safe? How does glycolic acid treatment look like?

Glycolic acid – action

Glycolic acid has the ability to stimulate fibroblasts that, in turn, are responsible for collagen and elastin production. Since collagen and elastin fibres decline with age, and due to lack of them skin becomes less supple and elastic, glycolic acid is frequently used as a constituent of rejuvenating beauty products and treatments.

Furthermore, glycolic acid encourages keratinization process, which is regular epidermal exfoliation, and also it regenerates and moisturises skin, reduces visibility of skin pores and balances sebum production. For that reason, glycolic acid treatment is recommended especially for oily and acne skin types.

Regular application of glycolic acid solution may lighten up discolorations caused by sunbathing or acne. Thanks to the acid, skin affected by fish-skin disease and similar dermatologic ailments becomes less dehydrated. Additionally, glycolic acid gifts dull cigarette smokers skin with healthy shade.

What’s important to realize, glycolic acid doesn’t only work on face but also on the body skin. For that reason, women who wish to get rid of stretch marks, cellulite and callous skin on elbows, kennes and feet eagerly take advantage of this acid.

Last but not least, the action displayed by glycolic acid mostly depends on its concentration and pH.

Glycolic acid – concentration

Glycolic acid is used in the following concentrations: up to 15%, 20-35% and 50-70%.

  • Glycolic acid to 15% is the safest solution because it moisturises skin and exfoliates the callus layer of epidermis. Moreover, it stimulates fibroblast synthesis together with skin self-regenerating processes.
  • Glycolic acid 20-35% replenishes skin with water and cleanses it. Its action can be compared to a scrub action.
  • Glycolic acid 50-70% stimulates skin regeneration processes, exfoliates dead epidermal cells and delays skin ageing processes, including the formation of wrinkles. Owing to regular use of glycolic acid, the thickness of dermis increases up to 25% without causing any inflammations.

Glycolic acid – pH

The action delivered by glycolic acid isn’t only determined by its concentration but also by its pH. The reaction of glycolic acid used in beauty parlour is 0,6-1,6.

How does glycolic acid treatment look like?


Two weeks prior to the treatment a patient is forbidden to use solarium or sunbath. In a week preceding the procedure, the patient shouldn’t expose their skin to acid exfoliating treatments, remove hair with wax and apply cosmetics with retinol content. Men shouldn’t shave on the day when the glycolic acid treatment is scheduled.

Course of action

The person who carries out the procedure, firstly cleanses skin precisely by removing make-up and then continues with degreasing. To do this, the specialist uses a preparation with a low concentration of glycol. Also, lips, ala of nose and eye skin area are protected with a thick layer of vaseline.

Then, glycolic acid solution is applied to a few face areas. The person who applies it must pay close attention to the skin reaction so as to protect it against irritations. The acid sits on skin for 5-7 minutes. After this time, the acid is neutralized and removed from face. The concentration of glycolic acid solution is matched with the skin type. To clarify, if facial skin is resistant to the acid’s action, there are a few solutions with various concentrations used during one treatment.

After precise glycolic acid removal, the beautician applies serum and mask to face, providing that the patient doesn’t experience any discomfort. In this way, the irritated with the treatment skin is able to produce a protective layer. Additionally, it’s recommended to apply an algae facial mask that replenishes skin with water and encourages skin self-regenerating processes. The last stage depends on applying a protective cream.

After the treatment

A few minutes after the treatment skin might prickle and be reddened, but the very symptoms should ease pretty fast (in the worst case scenario, they persist up to 24 hours). Additionally, after the treatment it’s advised against applying other skin exfoliating agents nor trying to degrease skin using a gel, for example. Also, the day after the procedure, it’s better not to apply make-up. Moreover, the patient should refrain from sunbathing for 2 weeks.

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About the Author
Nicky Trynide

is a professional make up artist whose work has graced the runway and the red carpet as well as national and international television shows and magazines. Nicky credits his long and successful career in the industry to his innate ability to see and bring out the beauty in everyone. Growing up, his passion for his future profession was sparked by his mother and two grandmothers, all European-trained estheticians

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