Glycolic Acid – The Real Story

Derived from sugar cane, Glycolic Acid is a first generation Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and highly regarded as one of the best exfoliating agents available to skin care professionals and consumers.

The History

The first Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) study, published in 1974, was completed by Drs Van Scott and Yu – the founders of NeoStrata. On a case study of Ichythiosis (extremely dry and scaly skin) they concluded that glycolic acid has the ability to treat over keratinisation and normalise overly dry and scaly skin. Glycolic Acid reduces unwanted cell build up on the uppermost layer of skin and weakens the chemical and physical attachments holding these cells together so that they can be sloughed off. Through further research it was later uncovered that glycolic acid possessed important anti ageing and dermal rejuvenating properties.

Drs Van Scott and Yu are the creators and original patent holders of the first glycolic peel.

Another published research study that from a team including Drs Van Scott and Yu in 1996 concluded that glycolic acid has the ability to effect all layers of the skin.

-       overall skin thickness increased by 25%

-       less melanin clumping in the epidermis

-       improved levels of Glycosaminoglycans and collagen fibre density in the dermis

What does Glycolic Acid mean for you?

For the user, glycolic acid means a more efficient cell turnover process; resulting in smoother and softer textured skin; stimulation of epidermal cells and an even distribution of melanin granules resulting in increased clarity and a less mottled appearance to your skin. In addition Glycolic Acid increases internal hydration of the skin through the boosting of the supportive internal gel matrix. Plumper, smoother and firmer skin is achieved through the stimulation of fibroblasts and collagen in the dermis. Overall, the user achieves a more youthful appearance with greater elasticity.

Correcting Old (incorrect) Assumptions

Over the counter AHAs are one of the most celebrated and important skincare developments of our times. They created much excitement when first discovered and launched; subsequently resulting in incidences of consumer overuse. With the Glycolic Acid molecule being the smallest, it has the ability to penetrate the skin quickly, thus deliver results faster especially in the realms of fine lines and wrinkles. However, this also means it must be used with caution and under instruction; like any other AHA product.

Glycolic acid thins and normalises the Stratum Corneum (the upper most layer of skin that houses cells at the end of their life cycle, cells which are irregular, pigmented, dry), whilst plumping and thickening skin cells in the layers underneath. This is glycolic acid functioning at its best, but unregulated overuse will cause adverse effects.

It’s true; formulation is King

Not all glycolic acid formulations are created equally. The pH value and percentage concentration are key in determining performance. It is also of extreme importance that the supporting cast of ingredients all work in cohesion to deliver real benefits to all dermal layers.

To this end, NeoStrata include a patented system of Amphoteric Complexes alongside their AHA’s.  It’s a smart system that delivers AHA’s at a stable and tolerable rate to the skin. The AHA is slowly released over time so that the potential for irritation even on sensitive skin is much reduced without any compromise to the effectiveness of the product.

The Supporting Acts

The addition of second and third generation AHAs from the Polyhydroxy and Bionic Polyhydroxy Acid families also enhance the overall effects of glycolic acid to contribute to proper barrier function, moisture retaining and anti ageing mechanisms within the skin. Gluconolactone strengthens the skins barrier function to reduce environmental irritation, Lactobionic and Maltobionic acids have antioxidants and humectant properties that help prevent collagen degeneration and build up the skins own natural moisture capacity. In addition they function as gentle exfoliants to tackle uneven pigmentation, enlarged pores and skin roughness. NeoGlucosamine is a non amino acid sugar technology that promotes cellular turnover, exfoliates hyperpigmented spots and acne for a more even skin tone.

Superior Performance

In conclusion, whilst there are a wide variety of different acids at different strengths and concentrations available for both practitioner and consumer use, it’s always paramount to bear in mind that above all studies have shown that glycolic acid delivers the most superior anti ageing benefits, in addition to the its outstanding exfoliative effects.