What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is derived from natural fruits acids otherwise called alpha-hydroxy acids. It is used widely in the industrial sector, as it is a very good acid for cleaning industrial parts very well. It is safe to handle and it does not corrode metals easily. It has a very subtle odor, it not very toxic and it is also non flammable. It is used in the removal of rust and cleaning engine and machine parts that have been overwhelmed by grime.
Aside from those main uses, glycolic acid is used extensively in the textile industry. The main uses are a dyeing and tanning agent. It is also used widely in the food processing industry as a preservative and a flavoring agent. In other industries, glycolic acid is added to solvents, emulsion polymers and additives for ink and paint in order to improve flow properties and impart gloss.
Glycolic acid’s popularity is not only confined to the industrial sector, but also the cosmetic one. Glycolic acid is often times used as a product to exfoliate the skin and moisturize. As a very important product in the world of cosmetic beauty it has its purpose. Dermatologists use it to treat the skin. The Glycolic Acid peel is often done by using concentrations between 20 and 80%. The glycolic acid is extremely dangerous in high concentrations and the US government has stated that concentrations over 10% are considered to be dangerous hazardous materials.
It is often used to treat a wide range of skin problems, such as wrinkles, eczema scarring, hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. It is also a very excellent exfoliant and it can help reduce the look of many different skin conditions that may affect the skin. How it works is by chemically peeling the skin depending on the concentrations used in the specific product. Glycolic Acid is very soluble and this makes it very effective at being absorbed into the skin. This makes it a perfect choice for the use of creams, gels and lotions. For these over the counter solutions, the concentration is 10% and below. Some people state that the acids at concentrations below 10% are worthless.
The creams and lotions that contain glycolic acid will all react with the top layer of the epidermis when used. Once it is in the skin, it will react and weaken the lipids, which are contained in the top layers, binding power. The lipids that bind are mainly responsible for holding the skin cells together. Once this process occurs, the acid will then have the opportunity to dissolve the underlying skin in the lower part of the epidermis. Once this is finished, the way to neutralize the acid is to use water and rinse it off.
If a patient takes the glycolic acid treatment then often times their skin will look like it is sunburned badly. Once the glycolic acid peel is done it will take a couple of days before the skin recovers. It is highly recommended that you use a sunscreen after you do some amount of skin exfoliation with Glycolic acid. The sunburned skin can be quite unsightly, but the results will have the individual looking fabulous. The skin will also be very sensitive to the sun and it is highly recommended that you use sunscreen after you exfoliate your skin with glycolic acid.
There is little doubt as it relates to glycolic acid’s effectiveness, when used properly, as a great exfoliator and moisturizer. It is like any other acid and this means that special attention needs to be done when it comes to storage and access. You should keep it away from children, as they can experience severe skin rashes and internal problems, if it is applied incorrectly or ingested.
Glycolic Acid Controversy
There is some controversy as it relates to the use of glycolic acid. There are some schools of thought that believe that if a 10% concentration of glycolic acid can cause skin damage, then concentrations in a higher proportion can do even more damage. Usually people who want a complete exfoliation may opt for a chemical peel. These chemical peels usually involve the skin being scrubbed carefully, and then a powerful alpha-hydroxy acid is applied. Chemical peels that contain glycolic acid can be as high as 50% concentration or more. There are some suppliers of the acid, who limit their concentration to 70%.
This is where the controversy arises, as there are some individuals who feel that using acids this powerful on the skin can be harmful. However glycolic acid has been used for a long time, and the side effects are minimal, even at high concentrations.
Glycolic Acids Industrial Uses
Aside for its popular use in the beauty industry, glycolic acid has many industrial uses. Because it is not a high corrosive acid, it can be used on many plastic, metal and painted surfaces, without fear of damage or etching.
Because of the high solubility of the acid in water, this makes it easy for it to be used in a wide range of process. It can be used inside concrete to remove residue and it is also extremely popular for cleaning vehicles, tools and equipment.
Biodegradable Glycolic Acid is easier to dispose of than other cleaning agents such as hydrochloric or phosphoric acid.