The Glycolic Acid Myths

Over the last 2-3 months, every week or so I get a question on whether Glycolic Acid is safe for darker skin tones – @honeyjarhajar recently did a great post on this so please go take a look. I am not sure of the exact source of this statement but I guess the thinking behind this statement is probably along the lines of Glycolic Acid being a smaller sized AHA which means that it can penetrate faster into the skin, increasing the chances of irritation and potentially causing hyperpigmentation or further darkening any existing hyperpigmentation. What we have to remember is this statement is just really oversimplified. The reality is “It’s complex, it depends”.⁣

This topic is actually personally very interesting to me as in 2003 I suffered burns on my right cheek from a 30% Glycolic Peel from an In Clinic peel treatment which eventually led me to enroll in beauty school. For higher % peels, I do believe Mandelic / Salicylic Acid and Enzyme Peels can be better-suited options for those who run the risk of irritation and a safer option for melanin skin. Personally, I now only consider Glycolic Acid at very low concentrations but remember even Mandelic Acid at higher % can cause irritation and require some skin acclimatization. So it’s important we understand the risk of high % AHA and irritation.⁣

Last of all, if you are using AHA don’t forget diligent SPF. Using acids and not using adequate SPF protection may worsen your hyperpigmentation.⁣

How do you like your Glycolic Acid?⁣