Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Choose a Glycolic Acid Skin Care Product

Glycolic acid skin care products have been shown to be effective when used to improve the condition of dry skin, reduce damage caused by the sun and to treat scarring resulting from acne. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and is extracted from sugar cane. It has traditionally been used as a moisturiser and exfoliant.

Exactly how AHA's including glycolic acid works is still not clear but currently the most popular theories are that it reduces inflammation, moisturises and removes dead skin cells. All three together leave the skin looking smoother, healthier and with a better color. Clinical studies have shown that glycolic acid skin care products markedly improve fine lines and wrinkles, often in three or four weeks. Glycolic acid has also been shown to be effective for treating damaged skin and is an excellent moisturiser. As we age less sebum is produced so dryness often occurs. Glycolic acid has been shown to improve the moisture content of the skin by as much as 200% when used regularly so is particularly helpful for older skins.

Glycolic acid skin care products are also thought to increase the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen is present in the dermis (the second layer of the skin) and provides a firm foundation. When collagen is damaged the skin begins to sag and wrinkles and fine lines appear. Elastin is important to preserve the elasticity of the skin. Both collagen and elastin are damaged by environmental factors including damage by the sun and the effects of cigarette smoke and their production decreases as we age. Increasing the production of both collagen and elastin will result in less wrinkles and fine lines and a more elastic skin.

To see the full effect of using glycolic acid skin care products they need to be used for six months or more. The effect is not permanent and the skin will slowly revert to it's original condition if you stop using the products. Most products have a glycolic acid concentration of between 5% and 10%. You should never use a product with more than 10% glycolic acid as this is considered to be too corrosive.

The FDA has issued guidelines for the use of glycolic acid skin care products :

1. The concentration of the glycolic acid must be less than 10%
2. The pH must be above 3.5
3. The product must contain a sunscreen or there must be a warning on the packaging to inform people that a sunscreen must be used.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Glycolic Acid Product

1.If you use a product containing glycolic acid use other products that do not contain glycolic acid. Using two or more products containing glycolic acid can be irritating to the skin.
2.Choose a product with between 5% and 8% glycolic acid to prevent irritation. Some products have less than 5% and are less effective. Products above 8%, especially if you have not used a glycolic acid skin care products may cause redness, stinging and irritation.
3.Always use a sunscreen in addition to the glycolic acid skin care product. Ideally sunscreens would be incorporated in the products but at present this is not possible as sunscreens are not stable at the lower pH needed for the glycolic acid to work effectively.
4.Always check the concentration of glycolic acid on the label.
5.Ideally you should use a product containing glycolic acid with the help of a dermatologist, especially if you have not used them before. They can ensure that the concentration is right for your skin.

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