Glycolic Acid and Chemical Peels

Cosmetic Skin Treatments with Arch Aesthetics

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Glycolic Acid Peels

If you are looking to uncover the smooth and younger skin beneath what you have now, you might be considering a glycolic acid peel.


The benefits are immense but it’s important to understand what they are and what they can (and can’t) do for your skin.

What is a peel?
A peel is a product that’s put on your face and, as the name implies, is peeled off. These can be done at home with an over the counter product, but the most effective peels are those that are performed in the office of a dermatologist or aesthetician.
A chemical peel uses some kind of chemical solution (there are a variety of peels you can get) to improve the skin. They smooth skin by removing the outer layers, which hold onto damage and are often rough and dry. Many people can benefit from a peel, but those with pimples or acne, uneven skin colouring and winkles are most likely to seek peels the most. These people will also derive the most benefit.

What is a glycolic acid peel?
Glycolic acid peels are simply a chemical peel that features glycolic acid as the main component. Glycolic acid is currently a popular treatment for wrinkles and acne. Part of the alpha hydroxyl family of natural ingredients, glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and is a fruit acid. When applied to the skin, it helps to remove the “glue” that holds the older, rougher and dryer skin on the surface. When it removes that top layer of skin, the fresh, new layer is visible. It’s this layer that’s without damage and which looks fresher.
People who have glycolic acid peels are often amazed with the results – they look younger, with fewer fine lines and wrinkles and if they have acne, they often notice their skin is quite a bit less oily and is much clearer.

How does a glycolic acid peel work?
You might decide to have a peel done when you have cosmetic surgery performed, but it’s not necessary to combine the two. A chemical peel can be performed without having any other cosmetic surgery performed, and while it can produce impressive results, a glycolic acid (or other) peel isn’t designed to take the place of a face lift or other cosmetic surgery.
When you decide to have a glycolic acid peel, you will visit with a plastic surgeon, aesthetician or other skin expert. If you decide on a glycolic acid peel, you are choosing to have a fairly light peel done that will usually result in few, if any, side effects.
A light layer of the peel is applied to your face and left for a period of time that will depend on the particular peel you are having, the reasons for having it and the person who is performing the peel.
The peel is removed and you are free to leave the office. With a light peel like a glycolic acid peel, there is no real recovery time and no pain relievers are necessary.
If you do feel any discomfort during the procedure (which would likely only be slightly irritation to the skin) you might be given a Tylenol or Motrin.

Side effects
There are few if any side effects to having a glycolic acid peel. Right after the procedure you might feel some burning, but it often goes away quickly. You might have some redness, but again, this usually goes away fairly quickly. If you have sensitive or very fair skin you are more likely to encounter these discomforts.
Glycolic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you should wear a good sun block after having a glycolic acid peel.
Future treatments
Often one glycolic acid peel isn’t enough. You will usually be given a series of treatments over a prescribed period of time.



A superficial chemical peel provides a skin exfoliant to chemically remove keratinised structures of the epidermis restoring a radiant complexion. Safe and easy to use with no downtime.


Glycolic acid is a type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid derived from sugar cane (it can also be made synthetically). Due to its smaller molecular size, glycolic acid is more effective than other alpha hydroxy acids and when used correctly can improve the look and feel of the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.


Glycolic acid works in a number of ways, primarily through its exfoliation properties. On application the glycolic acid penetrates the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold dead skin cells together. This action allows the layer of dead skin cells to dissolve revealing the underlying skin.


Glycolic acid is particularly effective for skin rejuvenation because of the following unique properties:

  • Exfoliates by thoroughly removing the uneven, rough layer of dead skin cells, resulting in a more compact stratum corneum

  • Penetrates through the upper layer of skin to begin exfoliation from the bottom up, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Increases moisture retention by binding with water and pulling it through the stratum corneum, improving skin hydration and overall skin health

  • Reduces the amount of surface skin oil, which aids the removal of blackheads and other skin impurities and can help stimulate collagen production within the dermis


The skin has three layers:

  • The epidermis – the outer layer we see

  • The dermis – made up of connective tissue such as collagen & elastin, the dermis serves as the skins structural support network

  • The subcutaneous tissue – contains fat cells, these cells help make the skin look plump or full


The skin ageing process is caused by many factors including:

  • Excess free radicals

  • Environment (e.g chemicals, UV exposure)

  • Lifestyle (e.g stress, smoking and diet)

  • Insufficient hydration

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Vitamin deficiencies


The effect of the ageing process causes:

  • The epidermis thins. The cells and matrix lose their ability to retain moisture

  • The dermal layer thins and produces less collagen

  • The elastin fibres responsible for maintaining skin elasticity begins to wear out

  • The subcutaneous fat cells shrink, unable to support the weakening dermal layer


The results of the ageing process include:

  • The loss of moisture retention result in dramatically dryer skin

  • The reduction in collagen and weaker elastin fibres cause wrinkles to form and the skin to sag

  • The sebaceous glands enlarge but produce less sebum oil which further dries the skin

  • Shrinkage of the fat cells make wrinkles and sagging skin more evident

  • As the skin degrades wrinkles form, the skin texture and resilience diminishes.


Skin rejuvenation treatments aid the remodelling of the epidermal and supporting dermal structures to gain improved skin texture, firmness and hydration.


Call 020 8681 4951 for more information.