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Best Active Ingredients to Fight Acne: Focusing today on Glycolic Acid

July 10, 2020

Glycolic Acid – How it works and why.

We have now explored the benefits of using benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulfur products on your skin to treat and prevent acne breakouts. We have one more active ingredient that is also a proven anti-acne fighter, Glycolic Acid!Both Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid, when used alone, are typically strong enough to clear people who only have mild acne such as blackheads and small pimples. As we mentioned in our post about Salicylic Acid, people with lighter skin that turns red easily do better using Salicylic Acid whereas people with darker and less reactive skin tolerate Glycolic Acid well to treat their acne. For people with more persistent acne, we recommend starting off with a stronger topical medication, either our Benzoyl Peroxide or Sulfur Formula. Then, after a few weeks of use if their skin needs a treatment boost, adding in either Salicylic or Glycolic Acids (based on skin complexion).

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic Acid is an AHA, alpha hydroxy acid, which is naturally derived from the sugar cane plant. Because it has extremely small molecules, it is able to deeply penetrate the skin, dissolving the sebum which is the oil that binds dead cells together in the hair follicles.  As a result, Glycolic Acid is a terrific exfoliator, sloughing off dead skin cells not only on the skin’s surface but also in the follicles, resulting in softer, more refined skin AND preventing new acne from forming. Exfoliating into the hair follicles is especially effective in preventing new blackheads and whiteheads.  An additional benefit, much like Salicylic Acid, is Glycolic helps to reduce the appearance of shallow surface fine lines, making it a popular ingredient in ‘anti-aging’ products.

For people who have lingering marks from previous acne breakouts,  Glycolic Acid helps to reduce the marks because of its exfoliant properties. Additionally, it helps to reduce pore (hair follicle) size by keeping them cleaned out and thus able to reduce to their natural state.

As with all topical medications for acne, the effects of using Glycolic Acid are compound, meaning that the more frequently and consistently you use the product, the better results you will have.

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