Glycolic acid, also known as “hydroxyacetic acid”, is classified under the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) group of chemicals. It is a non-toxic, water-binding exfoliating agent that is both colorless and odorless. Studies have shown that the regular application of glycolic acid helps to normalize the function of the stratum corneum. Cellular shedding and development are also better regulated through its use. Glycolic acid is the most commonly recognized chemical peel solution, and information about this chemical is discussed below.
Glycolic Acid Overview
Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant frequently used to treat acne conditions, pigmentary and keratin disorders, and signs of aging. Wrinkles and fine lines can also be reduced through its application. Glycolic acid can be found in a variety of strengths, consistencies, and concentrations. Uses can range mild cleansers, toners and creams to medical-grade peels and exfoliants.
Glycolic Acid Anatomy
Frequently abbreviated to the acronym “AHA”, glycolic acid is cataloged as an “alpha-hydroxy acid”. Alpha-hydroxy acids are naturally occurring acids that are extracted from sugar-based plants and fruits, as well as milk. Derived from the sugar cane crop, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure of any AHA and is therefore highly water-soluble. As a result, glycolic acid’s microscopic molecules penetrate beyond the surface of the skin to release impacted debris and accelerate the keratinization process.
Glycolic Acid Origins
Over the course of the 20th century, modern-day society rediscovered the remarkable benefits of alpha hydroxy acids. Doctors Eugene Van Scott and Ruey Yu are credited with the first recognition of glycolic acid as being the most active and effective of the alpha hydroxyl acids. Doctor Van Scott and Doctor Yu highlighted the restorative benefits of alpha hydroxy acids, specifically glycolic acid, in a 1974 dermatology publication. Doctor Van Scott and Yu paved the way for further advancements in AHA technology by developing more than 80 patents. Today, glycolic acid sustains its reputation as the most frequently employed alpha hydroxy acid both in professional and home settings.