Glycolic acid’s gentle exfoliating nature suits your face’s more sensitive skin. (1) A 7% glycolic acid toner is excellent for sensitive skin, as it hydrates and mildly exfoliates the skin and treats various sensitive skin complaints.
People with acne-prone, inflamed, scarred, or pigmented skin always seek pore-cleansing products to remove dull, dead skin cells, prevent future breakouts, and achieve glowy and fresh skin. Glycolic acid is excellent for carrying out these activities.
You can add glycolic acid to your routine, as it is included in many beauty products. It enhances your skin’s vibrancy, whether used in a moisturizer, toner, or mask.
Continue reading to learn more about glycolic acid toner.
Is Glycolic Acid Toner Good for Sensitive Skin?
Glycolic acid is the smallest odorless, colorless, and hygroscopic crystalline solid AHA that is highly water soluble. It is used in multiple skin care products. (1)
1. Glycolic acid exfoliates sensitive skin.
Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and has a mild exfoliating action. It peels by loosening and exfoliating the superficial top layer. It stimulates collagen growth. (1)
Glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the lipid-binding properties that hold dead skin cells together. It dissolves the outer skin with dead cells and reveals the underlying skin.
Glycolic acid in low concentrations (5%-10%) lowers cell adhesion in the skin’s top layer, allowing skin exfoliation and giving a smoother texture with topical use. A low glycolic acid concentration is ideal for treating wrinkles, acne, and photodamage. (1)
2. Glycolic acid toner treats acne-prone skin.
Moreover, glycolic acid cleanses and exfoliates the skin, easing wrinkles and acne; its keratolytic action can treat acne. (4)
According to 2020 research, glycolic acid has antibacterial properties, as it inhibits bacterial growth at specific concentrations. (2)
3. Glycolic acid toner treats sensitive skin inflammation.
Glycolic acid is an effective chemical peel that treats comedones (small skin-colored bumps found on the chin and forehead with acne; a comedo is a single lesion).
4. Glycolic acid toner reduces skin dryness.
According to a 2020 study, hyaluronic acid’s highly anionic properties can attract water to swell, produce volume, and give the skin structural support. Glycolic acid increases hyaluronic acid levels in the skin. (9)
Moreover, glycolic acid stimulates collagen production (10) (the skin’s main structural protein) (11), and it increases the proliferation rates of keratinocytes and fibroblasts (10), facilitating the repair and regeneration of the skin. (12)
Note: Glycolic acid leads to irritation in low pH and high concentrations. People new to glycolic acid should look for products with a low glycolic acid concentration (about 8%), start with weaker solutions, and work up. (10) People with sensitive skin can get glycolic acid toners with low concentrations.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) used in 20%-70% concentrations and is suitable for all skin types. Initially, it should be used in low concentrations and increased gradually in subsequent sessions. (14)
Glycolic acid’s low molecular weight allows effective skin penetration at a deeper level, making it suitable for sensitive skin.
Glycolic acid at pH 4 boosts collagen production (which reduces the risk of inflammatory diseases) and epidermal renewal. (16)
Note: Skin disorders such as rosacea, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and acne occur on sensitive skin. (17)
Alternatives of Glycolic Acid Toners for Sensitive Skin
An alternative AHA is lactic acid, which improves skin texture and uneven skin tone. (6)
Lactic acid and glycolic acid vary in molecular size; lactic acid has slightly bigger molecules, doesn’t penetrate deeply into the skin, and provides mild exfoliation.
Another alternative is salicylic acid, which belongs to the beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) group. It is best suited for eliminating impurities from clogged pores and reducing blemish appearance. (18)
Skin Benefits of Glycolic Acid
The beneficial effects of glycolic acid on the skin are:
- Glycolic acid has photoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties against UVB rays in the keratinocytes. (6)
- Glycolic acid dissolves and weakens the bonds holding dead skin cells together to speed up cell turnover.
- Glycolic acid treats multiple skin conditions, such as scars, acne, skin dryness, wrinkles, and pigmentation.
- According to clinical trials, glycolic acid effectively reversed photoaging and winkle marks, hydration, tone, and skin elasticity.
- Glycolic acid normalizes keratinization and treats acne. It also reduces epidermal thickness, collagen gene expression, and dermal hyaluronic acid. (6)
- Using glycolic acid in toner form eliminates dead skin cells and unclogs pores, resulting in a brighter, even-looking complexion.
Does a glycolic acid toner lighten skin?
No, glycolic acid doesn’t lighten the skin but fights dark spots, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation by removing the buildup of dead skin cells.
Dead skin cells give skin a dull and pallid appearance. Removing these unwanted layers eliminates pigmentation from uneven skin tone, giving you a brighter complexion.
What should be used after applying a glycolic acid toner?
After using a glycolic acid toner, nourish and hydrate your skin using a moisturizer. Opt for moisturizers containing niacinamide and hyaluronic acid (moisturizing actives), which calm and soothe the skin and counteract the drying effects of AHA.
Is glycolic acid suitable for everyday use?
Yes, glycolic acid can be used every day, depending on its concentration. If you are an exfoliant newbie, gradually increase the frequency; avoid overdoing it.
Some cleansers and toners have low glycolic acid concentrations and contain other relaxing ingredients suitable for daily use.
Note: Consult your doctor first if you wish to use a glycolic acid product. Remember to start low and slow.
Glycolic acid is an AHA and is a gentle exfoliating toner at low concentrations. It is used for treating sensitive skin.
Glycolic acid toners hydrate and exfoliate the skin, provide UV protection, treat inflammation, and provide antiaging and antibacterial effects.
It is advised to use glycolic acid toner at low concentrations. Additionally, adapt to it slowly, especially if you have sensitive skin.
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- P; ALMA. Glycolic acid peeling in the treatment of acne. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10343939/.
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