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Acne & Glycolic Acid

Acne & Glycolic Acid Acne & Glycolic Acid Acne & Glycolic Acid


In the ongoing quest to beat acne, glycolic acid can prove a useful weapon. Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid is manufactured in different concentrations and applied to the skin to reduce the occurrence of acne-related conditions, such as blackheads.


Glycolic acid is a natural chemical belonging to the alpha-hydroxy acid family, meaning the acids come from fruits and other plants. Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and features unique properties that make its topical application suited for acne treatment. Also known as hydroacetic acid, this chemical compound is clear, odorless and colorless, according to


When glycolic acid is applied to the skin, it penetrates the skin's outer layers and breaks up the bonds that bind dead skin cells to the skin. This allows these skin cells to be released, which reveals smoother skin underneath. Because acne can result from excess buildup of dry skin cells in the pores, glycolic acid can be useful in acne treatment.


Glycolic acid is found in a number of skin treatments, including face washes, spot treatments and chemical peels. Chemical peels are designed to treat acne by containing higher levels of glycolic acid than is intended for everyday use. This is then able to penetrate more deeply into the skin and encourage peeling that can reduce the acne's overall appearance. Chemical appeals are applied for a short time, then removed completely to take effect.


Those who regularly use glycolic acid, whether through a chemical peel or daily application, may be at greater risk of sunburn. For this reason, a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays should be applied to the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Because peeling, swelling, dryness or redness can be a normal byproduct of glycolic acid application, a moisturizer should be applied.

Expert Insight

Before utilizing glycolic acid in the treatment of acne, it is a good idea to ask a skincare professional if you can use it safely. For example, glycolic acid can cause the skin to change color in those with certain skin pigments. Those who are currently taking birth control pills or have been or are currently pregnant also may be at risk for adverse effects. Having a history of skin conditions such as fever blisters, cold sores, keloids or hypertrophic scarring also may be problematic for those wishing to use glycolic acid for acne treatment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

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