Glycolic Acid Lotion: Safe, Effective Anti-Aging

Have you heard the buzz about glycolic acid lotion? With so many skin care products on the market that advertise themselves as anti-aging solutions, and so few that actually deliver what they promise, it’s easy to become cynical and disbelieving. But there really is something that has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and reduce the visibility of age spots on the skin.

It’s called alpha hydroxy acid, and it’s been available in a variety of over the counter creams and serums since the early 1990s. As one of the gentlest forms of alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid is now one of the most popular additions to anti-aging skin care products.

Despite its scary sounding name, glycolic acid is a natural substance that’s usually derived from sugar cane and beets. Dermatologists use glycolic acid in super high concentrations (70% and above) for in-office chemical peels. But in low concentrations of 8% to 10%, glycolic acid lotion is a safe, effective way to fight the aging effects of weather, UV radiation, environmental toxins, and free radicals on your skin.

Layers of Epidermis - Glycolic Acid Lotion

How does glycolic acid lotion work?

Throughout your life, your skin has constantly been regenerating itself. New skin cells are created at the lowest layer of skin ‒ the part you can’t see, called the hypodermis. These new cells work their way upward toward the surface of your skin, through the dermis and finally into your epidermis.

The epidermis is the part of your skin you can see and touch. It is composed of five different layers, called stratum. The very top layer of your skin is called the stratum corneum, and you might be surprised to know that this is where your skin cells go to die. The combination of your natural skin oils and these dead skin cells act as a protective barrier, keeping bacteria and dirt away from the rest of your body.

You shed dead skin cells quite naturally, and in a far greater quantity than you might imagine. In a 24 hour day, you might lose as many as a million skin cells! This is absolutely natural and healthy.

But as we get older, this process of building new cells and shedding old cells slows down. Our skin loses the youthful sheen that comes from rapid cell turnover. It becomes dull, and the effects of the environment take their toll as well. Using glycolic acid lotion helps our skin to accomplish the exfoliating process it used to be able to do on its own.

A mild glycolic acid lotion removes dead skin cells gently, as opposed to rough cleansers and scrubs. Once the dead cells are removed, your body’s natural response ‒ creating new cells and moving them up through the layers of skin ‒ is stimulated. Your new skin is refreshed, brighter, and smoother.

Is glycolic acid lotion good for other skin problems?

Dermatologists often recommend using a glycolic acid lotion or wash to treat the redness and small pustules of rosacea, or to help control severely scaly skin conditions. People with acne-prone skin swear by the benefits of glycolic acid lotion. It can help to dry up excess skin oils, and its powerful exfoliating ability helps to keep pores clear and eliminate the clogged pores that are a major cause of acne breakouts. It also works well to treat folliculitis ‒ a problem that often occurs with men as a result of daily shaving.

In addition, glycolic acid lotion that contains a mild bleaching agent called hydroquinone can be extremely effective in fading age spots and acne scars. As the glycolic acid removes dead skin cells, it creates entry for the bleaching agent to work below the stratum corneum to lighten new cells before they reach the top layer of your skin.

Are there any special instructions to follow?

Glycolic acid is a safe, effective exfoliator that will reduce visible wrinkles and lines while giving your skin a youthful finish. As with any skin care product, though, there are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to.

Avoid using glycolic acid too close to your eyes. Any alpha hydroxy acid is probably too strong to use on the delicate skin under your eyes. If you’re looking to eliminate or lessen dark circles or sagging skin under your eyes, try a collagen-boosting moisturizing night cream, or better yet, one formulated specifically for use under the eyes.

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Even a low concentration of glycolic acid in your skin care products can be a bit irritating at first. It’s a good idea to start our with a concentration of less than 10% just to see how well your skin tolerates it. (Most skin care products will list the glycolic acid concentration in the “active ingredients” section of their ingredients lists.) Very sensitive skin may react even to concentrations as low as 5%, so only use a glycolic acid product every other day at first. And, as glycolic acid tends to have a drying effect on your skin, make sure to use a moisturizer every day to keep your skin balanced and healthy.

Because glycolic acid is such an efficient exfoliator, you won’t need to use textured scrubs or granulated cleansers as part of your daily regimen. And treat your skin gently in general! Alpha hydroxy acids can increase your skin’s overall sensitivity, so avoid rough washing and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it vigorously.

The very most important habit to follow, though, is one that you should be doing already: use a good quality sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors. All alpha hydroxys, including glycolic acid, will increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Your skin will burn more easily than it does normally, and you’ll be more vulnerable to the damage that UV radiation can cause. When you’re using a glycolic acid lotion, you should apply a broad spectrum, 15 to 30 SPF sunscreen religiously before heading outdoors, and re-apply it every two hours.

With a long track record of proven success as a safe, effective exfoliator, glycolic acid is a recognized age fighter and skin refresher. If you’re looking to regain the glowing, healthy skin of your youth, a good glycolic acid lotion may very well be your perfect solution.

Click here to see our favorite glycolic acid lotions.

Do you have a favorite anti-aging lotion? Let us know in the comments below.




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