What is Glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and is one of the most widely used AHAs in skin care products, it has the smallest molecules of all AHAs which allows for optimal exfoliation and absorption into the skin. Glycolic acid works by increasing the speed at which our cells rejuvenate or replace themselves. It works by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together - meaning that by using glycolic acid we can shed our dead skin cells faster than we would do so alone.
What is Hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a clear, sugar-based substance which is naturally found in our bodies - it is highly concentrated in our eye fluids, joints, and skin. It works by binding to water and helping to retain moisture (it can hold up to 1,000 times it weight in water), promote and protect collagen and provide flexibility and lubrication to said areas of the body. It keeps our skin looking plump and hydrated, as well as function at its best. When our natural store of hyaluronic acid begins to deplete naturally with age, we start to lose firmness and the skin becomes less able to retain moisture.
How do Hyaluronic acid products work?
To reap the benefits of hyaluronic acid there are different ways to use the products on the market. To achieve long lasting and effective results, hyaluronic acid-based fillers are injected into various layers of the skin. Otherwise, products can be applied topically as drops, moisturisers or creams. However, unless the product is effective, if it is not able to be absorbed by the skin, it will simply sit on top of the skin and provide a very limited and temporary amount of hydration. So the product must be of a certain standard and molecular structure in order to have the desired effect. The desired effect being that it stimulates collagen production, increases moisture levels, and strengthens the skin barrier - it should serve to make the skin stronger, firmer, and deeply hydrated on a cellular level.
How do Glycolic acid products work?
Glycolic Acid can help our skin by hydrating it, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, improving our skin tone and texture, reducing the effects of sun damage, brighten the skin, reducing pre size, preventing ingrowing hairs, shed dead skin cells quickly, clear out pores which can help with spots and acne.
Contrary to some reports, within a skin care ointment or cream, Glycolic Acid will not remove scars, it can have an effect on pigmentation (such as slightly lightening a darkened patch of wounded skin), and improve a raised or pitted scar but will not remove them completely.
There are plenty of over the counter options when it comes to choosing your product containing glycolic acid, generally these will come in varying strengths up to 10%. There are also stronger versions (up to 30%) which are present in a light chemical peel, though these are not advisable at home but by a professional practitioner or aesthetician. A dermatologist can administer an even stronger chemical peel including glycolic acid of up to 70% strength.
The format in which you choose to apply glycolic acid to the skin completely depends on your personal skin type and needs. You may be content with an over the counter product containing a light percentage of glycolic acid to brighten your skin and give you a healthy glow, to give a smoother skin texture, prevent breakouts and even reduce fine lines. Other skin types may require a more professional approach and a stronger treatment.
So which one do I choose for anti-aging purposes? Hyaluronic acid or glycolic acid?
In a nutshell, use both! Glycolic acid can be harsh on some skin types and, depending on the strength, your skin can take some time to adapt to using it so gradually build up the use of it over time. Beginning at 2/3 times a week and moving up to 4/5 if there is no sign of irritation, for example. Slowly increase over time until you can use it daily. If at any moment the skin becomes irritated then stop for a rest and begin the process again after a week or so at a lesser level. Glycolic acid works as an exfoliant and serves to improve skin tone and texture - this can mean that fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage / spots, etc can be reduced or improved over time. Hyaluronic acid works as a great source of hydration for the skin and promote collagen while reserving moisture. Both naturally occurring ingredients work well as individual skin treatments yet the two together can achieve smoother, healthier, more radiant looking skin.
How to use both Glycolic acid and Hyaluronic acid together
Due to the two products not being in competition with one another for their beneficial properties, they compliment each other really well when used in a personal skin care routine. The glycolic acid is your exfoliator revealing that radiance that has been hiding under the dead skin cells, and the hyaluronic acid is your day cream, gel, serum or mask, which locks in all that necessary moisture to keep your skin plump and hydrated. Rinse your face with water after using any glycolic acid product before moisturising with a hyaluronic acid based product.
Bottom line - use both!
To speak to our skin care specialists and learn what is best for your skin type, please contact Ocean Clinic today.