Glycolic acid is the simplest chemical compound found in a group of plant extracts known as the alpha-hydroxy acids. These plant acids are widely used in skin care. The alpha-hydroxy acids have been with us forever. That's because they are found in food. Scientists only learned how to make concentrated lotions from alpha-hydroxy acids about 1980, but all kinds of plant foods rich in these healing compounds have been used for facials for centuries.
Hydroxy acids are typically used as exfoliants, that is, as agents for removing any excess from the layer of dead skin cells that lies on top of the living skin below. Glycolic acid is also an exfoliant, dissolving the excessive sebum that "glues" dead skin cells to the skin's upper layer, the epidermis.
Glycolic acid, however, may also be used to lighten skin. It can be used as a first line of treatment to stop the overproduction of melanin, the pigment that adds brown and black tones to human skin. It can also be used to correct hyperpigmentation caused by improper use of skin lighteners.
In addition to lightening skin, it is especially useful on African-American skin as a means of healing scars. On all types of skin, glycolic acid is used to treat acne, warts, seborrhea, and cradle cap. Glycolic acid is safe and effective for both men and women, but it also has a special benefit for African-American men. This alpha-hydroxy acid relieves razor burn and razor bumps in addition to lightening skin.
Glycolic acid may be extracted from cantaloupes, sugar beets, sugarcane, or unripe grapes, or it may be chemically synthesized from cyanides. Most consumers prefer the naturally sourced glycolic acid. Just be sure to use a mild (10-20%) concentration to ensure there is absolutely no irritation or inflammation of your skin. Lightening your skin should be painless and pleasant.
Never try to "peel" African-American skin.
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