Glycolic acid is currently a popular treatment for winkles and acne. Part of the alpha hydroxyl family of natural ingredients, glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and is a fruit acid. When applied to the skin, it helps to remove the “glue” that holds the older, rougher and dryer skin on the surface. When it removes that top layer of skin, the fresh, new layer is visible. It’s this layer that’s without damage and which looks fresher.
People who have glycolic acid peels are often amazed with the results – they look younger, with fewer fine lines and wrinkles and if they have acne, they often notice their skin is quite a bit less oil and is much clearer.
Both glycolic acid and lactic acid are AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), but glycolic acid is the more common one of the two.
Glycolic acid is a transparent, colorless, and watery liquid. Peel strengths come in varying percentages, but usually start from 30% and go up to 75% concentrations.
A 30% glycolic acid peel feels stronger than a 30% lactic acid peel. Glycolic acid also seems makes the skin a lot redder. This may be because glycolic acid particles are smaller than lactic acid ones and penetrate deeper into the skin. At any rate, glycolic acid peels are considered light or mild peels.
How long it takes you to recover from a glycolic acid peel will depend on your skin and the strength of peel. Your skin will bounce back faster if you have gotten lots of peels already, but the stronger the peel, the longer it will take for your skin to recover.
Glycolic peels are not considered deep peels, so you don't physically "peel" from them. Your skin may feel dry and flake a bit, but it's nowhere as intense as the peeling from TCA peels. Therefore, there is very little downtime associated with glycolic acid peels. You probably won't have to schedule time off work or opt out of social events because the side effects of the peel can usually be covered up with makeup. How long it takes you to recover from a glycolic acid peel will depend on your skin and the strength of peel. Your skin will bounce back faster if you have gotten lots of peels already, but the stronger the peel, the longer it will take for your skin to recover.