Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

Effects of Glycolic Acid on Acne

author image Noreen Kassem
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.
Effects of Glycolic Acid on Acne
Glycolic acid is naturally found in sugar cane. Photo Credit: bdspn/iStock/Getty Images

Glycolic acid is found naturally in sugar cane and is a dermatology treatment to improve the texture and health of skin. The CNN Health website recommends superficial glycolic acid skin peels or exfoliation to gently remove the outer layer of epidermis or skin. Glycolic acid work by chemically loosening the bonds between the top layers of skin cells so that they are exfoliated quickly, to encourage new skin cell growth and remove dead or damaged cells. This can give the skin a refreshed glow and reduce acne side effects. Glycolic acid peels may also help to decrease acne breakouts. However, a chemical peel will cause skin irritation and redness and should not be used on acne or open skin sores.

Video of the Day

Reduce Acne

Glycolic acid peel.
Glycolic acid peel. Photo Credit: Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

Glycolic acid peels or creams help to exfoliate, or shed, dead skin cells on the surface layer of the epidermis. This prevents cell build-up on the skin, which causes a dull complexion and clogged pores leading to acne. Oily and acne-prone skin usually has slower rates of natural exfoliation, making it susceptible to clogged, enlarged pores that cause nodular acne, whiteheads and blackheads. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) advises that increasing natural skin exfoliation helps to prevent acne flare-ups.

Reduce Pigmentation and Scarring

Acne can cause scarring.
Acne can cause scarring. Photo Credit: Olga Sapegina/Hemera/Getty Images

Acne can cause pitted, or pigmented or colored, scars on the skin. The CNN Health website recommends glycolic skin peels to gently remove older, surface skin cells for gradual improvement of skin color blemishes and mild acne scarring. Increasing skin cell turnover by exfoliation helps to diminish scars caused by acne faster. Glycolic acid peels or skin cream cause a subtle change in the skin, and are used to peel away layers of cells over time to improve complexion and skin texture.

Increase Skin Moisture

Balanced, moisturized skin.
Balanced, moisturized skin. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Glycolic acid dermatology treatments also help to reduce skin inflammation by promoting the early removal of dry, flaky skin cells and increasing the moisture content of the skin. This helps balance the sebum or oil production in the skin. Excess and trapped sebum in the skin can lead to clogged pores, reduced exfoliation and skin inflammation in acne-prone skin. Moisture is important for healthy, balanced skin cells in all skin types, even oilier complexions.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media