Updated February 04, 2009.
An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane. One of the most well-known and widely used AHAs, glycolic acid is used to smooth wrinkles, fade hyperpigmentation and sun damage, and generally improve the tone and texture of the skin. As such, it is often used in anti-aging products.
Glycolic acid, because of the small size of its molecules, can easily penetrate the skin. It helps loosen the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing dead skin cells to slough off more effectively. The skin feels softer and smoother, and its overall appearance is enhanced.
Glycolic acid can be found in over-the-counter products, such as cleansers, masks and moisturizers. It is also utilized in stronger chemical peels available at your salon or your dermatologist’s office. It can cause sun sensitivity, so you must wear sunscreen whenever you are using glycolic acid treatments.
See also Alpha Hydroxy Acids