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What is Glycolic Acid?

What is Glycolic Acid?
If you were to scan the list of ingredients on some of the most popular skincare products, you would probably recognize a few of them. On top of well-known nourishing and hydrating ingredients like coconut oil and aloe vera, there’s another ingredient you’re likely to come across – glycolic acid. Though the name might sound a little intimidating, glycolic acid is naturally derived from plants and beneficial for skin in a variety of different ways. It is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used to exfoliate the skin. In addition to improving the tone and texture of your skin by increasing cell turnover, glycolic acid is also highly beneficial for aging skin because it helps get rid of dead skin cells, brightens, and can help stimulate collagen production. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at alpha hydroxy acids with special focus on glycolic acid as well as its benefits for skin. We’ll also delve deeper into some of Yon-Ka Paris’ professional products featuring glycolic acid as a primary active ingredient.

Understanding Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of acids, both natural and synthetic, which are used to exfoliate the uppermost layers of skin. By removing the top layer of dead skin cells, AHAs help reveal fresher, more refined skin that appears smoother and more hydrated over time. With continued use, AHAs can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making your skin look visibly smoother. The top alpha hydroxy acids for skin care include the following:
  • Glycolic Acid – Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid is the simplest in structure and has the smallest molecule size of all alpha hydroxy acids. This means that it is better able to penetrate the skin, delivering benefits below the skin’s surface. It improves the skin’s ability to retain moisture and improves firmness while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage.
  • Lactic Acid – The natural form of lactic acid is derived from milk, bilberry or passion fruit. Lactic acid provides similar results to glycolic acid, but is considered less irritating due to the larger molecule size. This AHA doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as glycolic acid but it is still often used as an exfoliant.
  • Malic Acid – Similar to glycolic and lactic acid, malic acid is used as an exfoliant, but it also delivers antioxidant benefits. The natural form is derived from apples, and malic acid is often used in combination with other AHAs.
  • Tartaric Acid – This acid is naturally found in grapes. It has a molecule size smaller than malic acid but nearly twice as large as glycolic acid. It, too, is used for exfoliation and helps to maintain the skin’s natural pH range that other AHAs need to deliver the best results.
  • Citric Acid — Citric acid can be extracted from citrus fruits. In higher concentrations of 10% or more it can be used as an exfoliant, though it has a fairly low pH and may irritate sensitive skin. For this reason, it is usually used in lower concentrations as a pH adjuster or antioxidant and is used in combination with other AHAs.
Though each of these alpha hydroxy acids has its benefits, we’re focusing specifically on glycolic acid. This AHA is typically used in concentrations of 5% or more to improve the skin’s appearance of firmness while reducing signs of sun damage, wrinkles, and age spots.

The Benefits of Glycolic Acid for Skin

Not only does glycolic have the smallest molecule size of any alpha hydroxy acid, but its benefits are the most well-studied. It has been shown to provide benefits for a wide variety of ages and skin types, making it one of the most popular AHAs for use in skincare products. In addition to exfoliation, glycolic acid also rejuvenates skin and helps it retain moisture for improved hydration. Here are some of the other benefits associated with glycolic acid:
  • When used in professional-strength concentrations, it is extremely effective as a chemical peel and is safe for use on various skin types and skin conditions.
  • It is safe for daily use in skincare products without causing irritation, when used as directed.
  • The natural version is derived from plants which feature botanical properties that can be beneficial for skin conditions like psoriasis, melasma, and seborrheic keratosis.
  • It can be used in products designed to treat scarring, skin discoloration, and the visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
  • It improves the skin’s ability to retain moisture, making skin more hydrated over time – it is very effective in moisturizers even at al ow concentration.
  • It has been shown to boost collagen production, helping the skin look firmer and smoother with fewer fine lines and wrinkles.
Now that you have a better understanding of alpha hydroxy acids and how glycolic acid stands apart from the rest, you may be wondering how best to harness the benefits of this AHA for your own skin. Read on to learn more…

Yon-Ka Paris Products Featuring Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a powerful exfoliant that works on the top layer of skin by dissolving the intercellular cement that binds skin cells together. From there, its small molecule size is able to penetrate into the deeper layers of skin where it can help treat everything from fine lines, uneven texture, and dullness. As the top layer of skin cells sloughs off, brighter, smoother, and younger looking skin is revealed underneath. This powerful AHA is a must-have in many skincare products and it has been an essential ingredient in the Yon-Ka Paris line of skincare products for several decades. In the 1990s, Yon-Ka Paris began using it in their Alpha Collection of resurfacing products. Here are the top three homecare products included in the Alpha Collection:
  • Alpha Contour – Designed specifically for the delicate skin around the eyes and lips, this product features natural AHAs from sugar cane, citrus fruits, maple, and blueberry with the hydrating power of hyaluronic acid. It can be used to activate skin cell renewal, smoothing lines and wrinkles to gently buff away the visible signs of aging.
  • Alpha Peel – A concentrated anti-wrinkle exfoliating gel, this product moisturizes the skin while renewing the outer layers. It features an intensive blend of alpha hydroxy acids to refine the complexion, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, in a non-greasy gel perfect for all skin types. Apply to the face and neck in the evening as a one-month course of treatment.
  • Alpha Fluid – This hydrating anti-wrinkle moisturizer emulsion is the secret to activating cellular renewal. It is formulated for all skin types featuring a bountiful blend of fruit extracts rich in alpha hydroxy acids to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating and soothing the skin. Apply to the face and neck in the morning after cleansing. Follow with SPF 25 or 50.
Yon-Ka Paris professionals recommend using the Alpha Peel gel nightly for exfoliation, smoothing, and skin cell renewal. For the best results, continue nightly use for 30 days and use the Alpha Fluid moisturizer with SPF 25 or 50 during the day. To maximize your results, enjoy a series of four Alpha Vital facials at a Yon-Ka Paris Professional Spa during the same month. If you’re not sure where to start with glycolic acid skin care products, consult a Yon-Ka Paris Professional for a free consultation or to book a facial treatment. Yon-Ka Paris features three professional-strength peels, each utilizing a different synergy of AHAs and BHAs, all boosted with the antioxidant power of vitamin C, to meet your individual skincare needs.
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