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What Is a Glycolic Facial?

Glycolic acid facials are used to remove dirt and oil from skin while smoothing out wrinkles.
Glycolic facials are not a good idea for those who experience recurring cold sores.
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  • Written By: Tina Samuels
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2014
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A glycolic facial, which can also be called a glycolic acid facial, is a type of skin care treatment where a form of alpha hydroxy acid is applied to the skin to remove dirt and oil, smooth lines and wrinkles, and even out skin tone. This is done using glycolic acid, an acid that can be found in the common sugar cane. This facial should only be done by people who are trained professionals.

A glycolic facial cleanser is the mildest form of chemical facial peel on the market today, and it will peel just the topmost layer of skin. People who can benefit from this type of facial peel are those with mild sun damage, light wrinkles and lines, and mild skin tone issues. If the glycolic treatment is added in with a bleaching agent, the facial can also remove some age spots and blotchiness.

A glycolic treatment includes both a pre-procedure routine and a post-procedure routine. Before getting the actual glycolic facial treatment, a person should not use any masks, scrubs, or other exfoliating creams on her face. Use of tretinoin such as Retin-A®, self tanners, facial waxing, or vitamin A compounds should also be avoided for the two days prior to the facial. No one who is taking the prescription drug Accutane®, who has cold sores and fever blisters, or who is sunburned should have a glycolic facial.

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The peel itself helps the body remove dead tissue, allowing it to be replaced with new fresh skin, making the face appear younger and tighter. This is where the "peel" part of the facial name comes from. After being smeared with treatment chemicals, the surface skin is allowed to peel off, exposing healthier skin underneath.

After the patient returns home, she should not exercise for several hours. Direct sun exposure should be avoided, and a sunscreen used. Makeup can also be used. Facial waxing products, vitamin A compounds, or Retin-A® should not be used for two days after the facial.

After a glycolic facial peel, some people may feel tightness in the skin, skin dehydration, dryness, and some crusting. The skin may discolor temporarily. These symptoms are not uncommon, but if they are particularly bothersome or seem to last a long time, the client should contact the professional who performed the treatment.

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Discuss this Article

icecream17
Post 2

@Latte31 -I agree that the glycolic face peels are not for everyone. I rather use exfoliators and scrubs in order to have smoother skin.

I had glycolic facials in the past and they do make skin look great, but I just don’t like the process.

latte31
Post 1

I just wanted to say that I got a glycolic facial once and it did make my skin smoother. The active ingredient is the salicylic acid which is found in most exfoliating creams.

I decided to go that route and use a nightly exfoliating cream. It is much more pleasant and the results are just as visible. I also think that if you exercise daily and drink a lot of water you will also see positive changes in your skin. You will actually start to see a glow on your face which is due to the increased circulation from the exercise.

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