Glycolic acid is a popular skincare ingredient. It is one of the most widely used chemical exfoliants for skin. But recently, the acid has gained popularity for the benefits it can have for hair and scalp health. In this article we’ll take a closer look at what glycolic acid is, the benefits of glycolic acid for hair, and how to use it safely.
Glycolic acid is one of the most popular acids in the alpha hydroxy family.
Glycolic acid has moisturizing, exfoliating, and soothing benefits for your hair and scalp
Hair products with glycolic acid include shampoos and conditioners, hair masks, and scalp scrubs.
Results from using glycolic acid for hair always vary from one person to another.
Most skin types can use glycolic acid without any issues, but it can have potential side effects.
Glycolic acid is a water-soluble and colorless alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It is made from sugar cane. It's definitely one of the most popular acids in the AHa family. It is made from sugar cane.
AHAs are a group of acids that naturally occur in plants. Glycolic acid is the smallest AHA. This allows it to penetrate deeper and exfoliate your scalp better than other AHAs.
Benefits of glycolic acid for hair
Glycolic acid is a one of the most popular chemical exfoliant for many reasons, including:
Exfoliates your scalp
Glycolic acid exfoliates away dead skin cells and other debris, leaving your scalp feeling smooth and healthy. Just like a gentle scrub for your face, glycolic acid can help to remove dead skin cells and oils that can clog hair follicles.
Soothing the scalp
Glycolic acid is the best alpha hydroxy acid for people with inflamed scalps. They are natural acids that have anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help reduce irritation, redness, and itchy scalp.
Prevents hair breakage
Glycolic acid not only exfoliates your scalp but also hydrates it. This means it can attract moisture from the environment. It can help to keep the hair and scalp hydrated. Glycolic acid has also been clinically shown to maintain moisture, help to strengthen the hair, and reduce hair breakage.
Cleanses the scalp
Maintaining a clean scalp can help improve the health of your hair. And glycolic acid can help to cleanse your scalp. Glycolic acid has both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. These properties can help to remove harmful bacteria from the scalp, which can promote hair growth.
Prevents scalp acne
Acne affects about 80% of individuals between 11 and 30 years. If you suffer from scalp acne, then glycolic acid is definitely worth trying. This alpha hydroxy acid has great antimicrobial properties. This means it can prevent the bacteria and yeast that fight scalp acne and seborrheic dermatitis.
How to choose glycolic acid products
The glycolic products you choose will highly depend on your hair type and needs. There are so many glycolic products on the market today. From shampoos and conditioners to hair masks, and scalp scrubs.
Choosing these products may be challenging. So ensure you take your time determining the best product for you or ask for guidance from a professional.
Look for products that will address these needs.
- Your hair type. Understanding your hair type is key to taking better care of it. Once you know your hair type, you'll definitely be able to choose products that are designed to meet its specific needs.
- Hair concerns. Different hair concerns always require different solutions. First, identify your specific concern. Then, then choose the products that will help you address it.
- Ingredients. When shopping for hair products, look for ones that contain moisturizers, natural extracts, and glycolic acid. These ingredients work together to boost the benefits of glycolic acid and improve the health of your hair.
- Concentration. How you choose the concentration of glycolic acid in the product will depend on your hair type and tolerance. For most people, a concentration of 5-10% is a great starting point. If you have sensitive skin, always to start with a lower concentration to see how your scalp reacts
How to use glycolic acid for hair
Incorporating glycolic acid into your hair routine is easy:
- All you need to start is the glycolic acid.
- Apply the glycolic acid directly on your scalp thirty minutes before your shower routine.
- Ensure you follow the instructions to achieve the best results.
- After you apply, massage it really well into your scalp.
- Always be gentle and avoid scrubbing.
- Massaging your scalp well will ensure it spreads evenly and penetrates deeply.
- Leave it on for 30 minutes or less.
Then, continue with your usual shower routine. Shampoo your hair thoroughly to remove the glycolic acid, condition, and rinse as needed.
How long it takes to see visible results
There are a few things that can determine how quickly glycolic acid works on your hair. Some of these things are your hair type, the health of your hair, and how often you use it. Most of the time, it can take a few weeks to see visible results.
However, to see bigger changes like increased hair growth, you may have to keep using glycolic acid for several months. Results are not immediate. Be patient and consistent with your use to get the best results.
Who should avoid using glycolic acid for hair
Glycolic acid is a very beneficial hair product. Most skin types can use glycolic acid without any issues. But as with any type of chemical exfoliant, this acid is not for everyone.
For some people, glycolic acid can have potential side effects. So before you try glycolic acid talk to a dermatologist. An expert will advise you if the product is right for you.
Avoid using this type of acid if:
- You have a sensitive scalp. If you have a very sensitive scalp prone to redness or irritation, don't use glycolic acid. Using it may worsen these problems.
- If you have undergone recent scalp treatments. If you've recently had hair coloring, scalp rebonding, perming, or relaxing, you should avoid glycolic acid because it may cause more sensitivity or damage.
- You have open wounds on your scalp. If you have open wounds or sores on your scalp, avoid using glycolic acid because it can cause discomfort or severe reactions.
- You have pre-existing medical scalp conditions. If you already have a medical scalp condition, you should consult a doctor before using glycolic acid. Using it may worsen some conditions.
Possible side effects of glycolic acid for hair
Just like all other chemical exfoliants, glycolic acid has some side effects. These side effects include:
- Scalp irritation. Overusing glycolic acid can cause scalp irritation, redness, or itching.
- Dryness. Using glycolic acid excessively can strip your scalp of natural oils. This can lead to dryness and flakiness.
- Allergic reactions. Some people may have allergic responses after using glycolic acid. These reactions can cause itchy or red skin.
Glycolic acid is a great product for your hair. It's a gentle chemical exfoliant that is derived from sugarcane. Many hair care products contain glycolic acid. This ingredient has Moisturizing, exfoliating, and soothing properties. It can make your hair look better and healthier. However, it is essential to use it correctly to avoid allergic reactions. So if you want to try a product with glycolic acid, consult a doctor first to ensure it is safe to use.
- FDA. Alpha Hydroxy Acids.
- Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin.
- International Journal of Trichology. Essentials of Hair Care often Neglected: Hair Cleansing.