What Does Glycolic Acid Do To The Skin


What Does Glycolic Acid Do To The Skin
Welcome to the Smazy Academy Show with Tonia Ryan and ...

I'm Dr. Christopher Khorsandi also known as Doc Vegas on Instagram.

Doc Vegas.


In today's episode, we're going to be talking about glycolic acid.

So what is glycolic acid, right?

Oh gosh, what a huge question.

Well, first of all, when you look at it, you take that chemical ... it's a colorless, it's odorless, it's translucent, it's a crystalline compound and it is indeed an acid. It occurs in cane sugar, unripe grapes, sugar beets. It's a sort of thing that we discovered in the environment, but it's had a really high impact on the skincare industry over the years, because what it does is that it basically helps to clear the dead skin off our superficial layer of our skin called the epidermis, right?

It's one of the most popular alpha-hydroxy acids on the market [crosstalk 00:00:54]

Right. It's the same class as malic and lactic acids, but it has a certain effect on the skin. So, there's different concentrations of it, but it's a fact is really a chemical releasing of the stuck dead skin cells that can inevitably clog pores and cause acne.

Yeah. We don't want that at all. It's great at preventing acne.

Yeah. So glycolic acid has a couple of different benefits. One, it makes the upper layer of the dermis, actually the epidermis. The dermis sits on the lower level and the epidermis is basically the last seven cell layers or so of skin that basically every couple of days we give off those cells. In fact, the weird thing is what you see in the air, when you see dust in the air, most of that is dead skin cells floating around in the air.

Are you serious?

Yeah. That's the crazy part about dust [inaudible 00:01:48]

Okay. So we don't want any dust ... We're not breathing any of that [crosstalk 00:01:51]

You have to. It's part of life. There's no way around that. And that's okay because our bodies have adapted and evolved to tolerate that. But dust is basically dead skin cells floating around in the environment, right? So you shine a light on dusty room and basically you haven't vacuumed enough, it settles into your carpet, you kick it up and things like that. Well, okay. How do we help that skin to see the healthier fresher skin underneath? Maybe you've got a layer that's just stubborn and just dulling the skin. Well, you apply a glycolic acid. It oftentimes exfoliates to a certain extent and reveals that shinier, healthier, more radiant skin underneath.


The skin that has a little bit more moisture content to it. Again, it's an AHA, alpha-hydroxy acid. And it helps also with skin tone.

Uh-hmm (affirmative).

Evening the tone out.

Absolutely helps even skin tone.

And there's a lot of different products out there. We have one we'll talk about today.

Yes. One I'm so excited to talk about later.

So, we'll get to that. But I mean, it's a natural product, right?


And so it comes from the natural environment and its discovery has helped skincare regimens to find the shine basically. Some people kind of worry, "My skin is dull." Right? And oftentimes it's because of the buildup of the upper layers, right?


People who are acne prone, oily skin, what it also helps in conjunction with a good cleanser ... Now, glycolics aren't great for getting rid of oil because it's not really what an acid does, right? Soaps, surfactants break up oil, right?

Yes. It's a better exfoliator, right?

Right. Yeah. And so you have mechanical exfoliation, right? When you use sort of a polish or like a sugar base exfoliator. You exfoliate with a mechanical way, you rub these hard crystals against the skin. And they ... like a scouring pad, they're abrasive, they break down the layers and scratch it off like a loofah basically. But this is a chemical thing that loosens that connection a little bit. I mean, if you go really high in concentration, it gets deeper into that upper layer and can cause a peeling, right?

And so, when you get oily skin, right, in conjunction with the dead skin cells, think of it this way. When you get a pimple, again, you have your pore, right? And it's like a V-shape almost, I would say more it's like a vase, because towards the bottom it widens a little bit in some histological sections, but the top narrows and it's the pore. And that pore, when there's dead skin cells mixed with sebum, it becomes like concrete, blocks the exit and that oil doesn't really flow out. The sebum has really thickened nicely.

We need to get that oil out of there.

Right. So how do we do that? So, in conjunction with a good cleanser, the glycolic can actually loosen those dead skin particles, open up the upper layer of that pore, allow the soaps, allow the cleansers to actually affect the oil and sebum and clear that skin and then decrease the potential for acne to be in an environment where it'll flourish.

Yes. So it's great at preventing acne. It's great at exfoliating. And it's also great because it has plenty of anti-aging benefits.

Yeah. It's a nice like small molecule. It's not a huge thing. It gets into the skin, gets ... it penetrates pretty well. I mean, we don't really have any studies showing any carcinogenic effect from it.

That's a beautiful thing.

We haven't had any sort of things so far to my knowledge of estrogen modulation with it like we have with some paraffins.


So far, it's been one of the good guys in this battle. It seems to be that it's well tolerated and there's different ... if you have sensitive skin though ...

Yes. You have to be careful. There's different percentages of the glycolic, which we'll talk about as well.

Right. So, at Smazy Academy, we kind of get into this, you know?

We really dive in deep when it comes to everything you can think of when it comes to skin care.

Right. So if you're not sure, like is glycolic acid right for my skin type? We break it down into different chapters on different skin types. And then we educate you, it's kind of identify your own skin type, maybe identify other people's skin type to help their regimens. And then, if you're like, for instance, in the sensitive skin category, you have to be very careful [crosstalk 00:06:20]

You have to be very careful. I wouldn't recommend the glycolic depending upon the sensitivity of what your skin is. But all depending, maybe there's only a certain area you're sensitive with. So there's [crosstalk 00:06:31]

That's the complexity [crosstalk 00:06:34] that's the mixed skin type, right?

That's the Smazy Academy [crosstalk 00:06:38].

Yeah. That's something that if you sign up for Smazy Academy, and by the way, Smazy Academies are learning base, right? It's a knowledge platform and our skin knowledge graph basically. And it's a kind of a thing you sign up for, right? And the beauty of it is if you sign up for the Smazy Academy service, so you get monthly educational programs, we have a knowledge base that you can get into and educate yourself and learn about the different detailed aspects. We're going to have product real deep dive reviews of different products. And then the cool part is, is that your tuition, your educational tuition there monthly gets applied to your skincare.

Yeah. A portion of it can go towards your skincare depending upon which package you've chosen. And then there certain packages where all of the money just goes towards skincare. So it's basically like that.

Yeah. So you got a really large knowledge base and then take that ... you basically get free education and you get skincare at the same time.

Exactly. So that's where we can help you with the glycolic acid as far as choosing the right one. But in the meantime, I will also put information below in the description to help you, if you just want to see the different glycolics we carry.

Right. So again, glycolic acid, if you're sensitive, maybe not the right thing. Right? But-

Yeah. We have to be careful.

We have to be careful. Anything that we do here really, I mean, we're here to entertain, to educate. This is not a substitute for medical care. So if you really have medical issue where your skin super sensitive, by all means, get in, see a healthcare provider, your dermatologist, your skincare provider, and see exactly what's going on. But today, I mean, with glycolics, we've got some pretty mild glycolics that we can confidently use and try. Now, how does it function on each person's skin? Well, that's a function of how much dead skin you have on the surface.

Exactly. And it also helps other products absorb better into your skin. So if you have a good glycolic that's exfoliating your skin, it'll help your serums absorbed better, it'll help your moisturizers absorb better. So it is a certain ... it's one of the important [crosstalk 00:08:35] of your regimen.

Yeah. I mean, you can have great skincare products, but if your pores are clogged with dead skin cells and sebum and ... nothing's going to get down in there. So your benzoyl peroxide is going to be a little less effective for combating acne if you've not really unmasked that upper layer. Particle size benzoyl peroxide really matters. And particle size in glycolics is part of the reason why they work so well together. So, at Smazy Academy again, you'll see like where things fit together and at smazy.com, oftentimes, when you're looking at one of the products, you'll see things that work well together with it.

Yes. Well, we make sure that we put different kits that we put together that help with your skin type or what type of product you're looking for, and try to really listen to what it is your needs are so that we can help give you the best education.

Yeah. Our goal is to try to help you find the best way to take care of your own skin. These are all non prescriptive base like regimens, all over the counter, all stuff that you can buy-

Yeah, over the counter mostly medical grade but over the counter.

Well, yeah, medical grade in the sense that this is not just like some pancake batter mixed together and like thrown on the shelf in the supermarket. It's like-

No. There's a lot of science behind the products.

Absolutely. And there's a world of products out there. A lot of people just use the standard stuff that their moms used and really-

Well, I hear that a lot. Well, my mom used Ponds and she looks beautiful. That's wonderful. I'm glad that-

Maybe good genes, but there's a lot more to it. And not everybody has the same skin type as their mom. I mean, the way the world works is that you get half of your genes from the other side of the family.

The other side. There is someone else that's involved.

There's somebody there. It's like you get half of your skin from your dad and the way the skin acts and reacts. And now, how that genetic mix between your mom and your dad shows up in you may be completely different than what your mom's skincare regimen.

That's true.

And here's the thing. Your mom didn't have as many choices and wasn't able to fine tune the skincare regimen like you are today.

Like you can today. There are so many different skincare brands to choose from, and it sometimes makes it overwhelming.

Yeah. And even within those brands, some of these bigger brands, I mean, they have 200 different products, right?

Yeah. It's-

So, how do you navigate all of it?

Yeah. Sometimes it just seems like it's too much. So we pick and choose the best brands and then the best products within the brands to bring to everyone.

Right. So one of the products that we looked at and help develop was this-

We're so excited about this.

Yeah. This is [crosstalk 00:11:00]

This is our Smazy Academy glycolic cream. It's our age erase cream, and it's a 15% glycolic. So it's one of the higher strength glycolic acids. So it's definitely probably not for sensitive skin [crosstalk 00:11:13].

No. I mean, this is a little bit more for people who really need an exfoliant that you're not going to use this every single day, right?

No. You can ... I would suggest when we first start out, you would use it twice a week to see how you ... included with your other regimen. You have to have be using the rest of your other regimen, which I will put down below that would work the best for you. But what's great about this as well is it's made in the United States. It's gluten-free, it's, paraben-free, it's sulfate-free, it's not tested on animals. We did a lot of research with the company that we worked with with manufacturing, and we're really excited.

Yeah. So take me through it. When would you start your glycolic and your regimen?

Okay. So for me, I've already been using this, because of course I wanted to test it along the way before we decided to bring it into Smazy Academy and Smazy as well. So I use my regular regimen, which I always cleanse in the morning. Then I use a toner.

Now, do you go by day of the week or do you go by ... I mean, do you have a calendar that you set?

People can do that and I think that's a good idea if you have a hard time sticking to your regimen, because a lot of people go, "Oh, it's just too much steps." And they think that it's too much. I'm the total opposite.

You like more steps.

I am a skincare guru, people. I mean, I like a lot of skincare. If we went through ... which I'm going to do a video that's my entire regimen. But I would just include this into the regimen twice a week because I use moisturizers. As soon as I wake up, I do not wash my face first. I use a moisturizer and a serum as soon as I wake up.

So when you ... Is there any a time when you are using the glycolic? They say, "Maybe I need another day."

I use it at night.

Do I need another day of the week or do you just like this is routine regimen for you?

I go by how my skin is feeling. If it feels like it needs to exfoliate, then I'll use it an extra day.

And that's what I'm driving at. So, there are times when you ...

Yeah, about two to three times.

There maybe a day or two where you're like, "You know what? I need ... I'm looking dull and I think ... there's a lot of dead skin on the surface, I need to clear it off, get a little bit more luster back [crosstalk 00:13:16]

I have friends that have used other glycolic creams and they use them everyday, so.

Yeah. I don't think that that's necessary. I think that that-

Yeah, that's what I thought. I thought that's a little ...

Maybe if the percentage is lower than 15%.

Yeah. Because 15 is high. Fifteen, it's almost like you're doing some sort of a glycolic mask. So twice ... I think two to three times a week with the glycolic is fine.

And that varies based on your sensitivity to your skin, how dry your skin is, how oily your skin is.

Best is try it once and maybe like a retinol. Some people start with retinols only once a week.

Well, if you get a lot of peeling reaction to it, I think you got to back off on the frequency. Now, if you peel excessively, you got to cut back on the percentage then.

Yes. And then see what else you're using with it at the same time.

Now, or smaller amounts.

Maybe somebody is using-

Typically, how big of a size of a dollop would you be using?

Well, this is a cream. So it's a little bit heavier of a cream. So with this, I would use about this much.

So that's about one gram there. It's about pea size amount and-

And it's really smooth. It goes on super nice. And I like it at night.

Yeah. And you're applying this to forehead all the way down to your chin area?

Yeah. At first, I would be careful with the nasal folds. The same way you do with retinol, around the eyes and the corners of the mouth.

Corners of the eyes, you want to avoid. Yeah, inner corners of the eyes, outer corner, really close to the eyelid, you really don't want to put this stuff.

No, because then you can get irritated. The same way with retinol, it's very ... They're not in the same department, but yet they can [crosstalk 00:14:46]

The effect is similar. You get that irritation of the corners of the mouth, irritation at the corners of the eye. So obviously, you want to stay away from it. It's not for your crow's feet really.

No, it's not. It's more to exfoliate the cheeks, the chin, the top of the nose and forehead. You can do a decollete as well.

Right. But the thing is with the eyes, around the eyes, the lids are in some places only seven cell layers thick. So you really don't need to exfoliate that, okay?


So, some people put this like just put everywhere.

Yeah. You don't want to go slather it all.

This is not one of those skincare products where you're just more is more. More, it may not be more. More maybe less. There is a limit to how much you want to put on because it is an acid. It is going to exfoliate. You don't want to over exfoliate. You don't want to over-treat. You can cause problems by doing that.

Yeah, absolutely. So I would treat it the same way you would a retinol. And there will be directions when you go to smazy.com on information on how you should use it and when you should use it.

Yeah. When it comes to a product like this, this is really where you individualize application at home is going to come with some work on your end. I mean, when you put it on, you've got to be aware of what its effects are. And if it's a new product for you, you've never used a glycolic, really start slow. I mean-

Teeny, tiny bit.

Teeny. The smaller, the better. I mean, this is not a race. Your skincare regimen is more like a lifelong process. And it's just like going to the gym. You're not going to be able to go to the gym one day and spend five hours there and all of a sudden walk out buff, right?

Right. It takes time.

It's like frequency and consistency sort of thing. And that's, I think, when you getting to restorative type things and more active compound stuff like glycolics and things like that, retinols, you really got to understand they do have an effect directly on the skin. And in this case, this is loosening up dead skin, but more acid is more acid and that causes deeper and deeper release of that. And-

Yeah. But if you can tolerate it and you're using it and it works, I mean, it works so beautifully. The skin is so much more radiant and just gives you just this beautiful glow.

Yeah. And obviously helps with acne. I mean, I think that's one of those cornerstones of regimens for acne. And for some people, it may be glycolic, it maybe salicylic, it may be different types of acids, and that's where it comes into really getting to know yourself and seeing what works for you. And the skincare is a journey. And we talk about this a lot that you may be using one product at one point in your life and then as you mature, you switch and you end up with something that works better. So, we have patients that come into the clinic and say, "I've been using the same product for 15 years." And I'm like, "Wow." Your skin's different though at that time.

Well, there's so many new products too.

Right. Well, skin changes. It matures. It changes. And so you really have to ... for each decade of your life and depending on the exposure that you get to your skin, the environmental exposure, you've got to adjust your skincare regimen along the way. And if you using the same thing forever, you're not going to get the results. Eventually, the skin gets fatigued.

It does. And it gets used to the same type of things. The same thing like when you work out, you exercise, you eventually want to change up the different exercises you're doing as well. It's the same thing.

So, glycolic, great product, versatile, comes in different concentrations. We formulated at 15% for a little more aggressive treatments.


If you have more questions, obviously, we're here to answer them.


So below, if you have some comments or suggestions, things like that, it'd be great if you guys give us some feedback, see what your personal experience with glycolic acid is valuable to us as anything else. So if you had a great experience, great story with glycolic-

Let us know.

Yeah, let us know. Share your experience, talk about it below in the comments section. And the other thing is, is that if you really like what we're doing here, be sure to rate us. Give us a review, whether it's on Apple podcast or wherever you're watching us on YouTube, give us a review and let us know how we're doing. And here's the cool part. If you put a review in and you screenshot it and send it to us to [email protected]

That's correct.

... every month, we're going to do a drawing for $200 worth of free skincare. So, we'll send that out to you.

So you might be able to get the glycolic acid for free.

Yeah. It's pretty cool. Now, we value your feedback. We really want to make this a show that you get a lot out of and that there's things that you have questions about, we're here to answer them.

And thank you so much for watching, and please make sure you like and subscribe to our channel. It's very important.

We appreciate your time. We'll see you for the next episode.

Thank you.

Tune in.

To listen to the full version of our Smazy Academy podcast visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXS8oVoDFos&t=134s