Here's What Glycolic Acid Can And Can't Do For You

Glycolic acid is a skincare ingredient commonly found in many cosmetic products, including face washes, masks, toners, lotions, and more. It mainly functions as an exfoliator, and is an alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugarcane. Glycolic acid comes with a ton of benefits for the everyday skincare woes. Not only does it treat acne by penetrating deep to unclog pores, its exfoliating properties can help get rid of a bumpy texture and decrease pigmentation for a more vibrant complexion by getting rid of dead skin cells, according to HuffPost.

One unknown benefit of glycolic acid is that it also fights aging by stimulating collagen production. "By activating fibroblasts in the dermis, the acid will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," skincare expert Dr. Pamela Benito told Elle.

With all of these properties, what's not to love about glycolic acid? Although glycolic acid may sound like an ingredient that's too good to be true, it is important to note the possible negative side effects that come with the exfoliator. Keep scrolling to find out what they are.

Glycolic acid, the sun, and sensitive skin don't always mix

One downside of glycolic acid is that it is not recommended for use by those who spend extended periods outside, especially in warm, bright climates because the ingredient makes you more sensitive to the sun. "I would not have people using glycolic acids regularly if they're not going to be good with sun protection and they're a lifeguard, or they're working at the pool or they're out on the beach," dermatologist Melda Isaac told HuffPost. So if you're determined to use this particular AHA, be sure to pair it with sunscreen (which hopefully you'll be wearing daily anyway).

Not only this, but glycolic acid could be problematic for those with sensitive skin in general. The more percentage of glycolic acid a product has, (this typically ranges from 8% to 30%), the more likely it will cause redness, irritation, and dryness. Very Well Health reported that the best glycolic acids for those with sensitive skin are cleansers, as they tend to be more gentle and lower in concentration.

Even though glycolic acid may leave your skin looking clearer, smoother, brighter, and younger, it is essential to know the risks before you incorporate this useful ingredient into your everyday skincare routine.