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L'acide glycolique, un allié contre les points noirs et les pores dilatés

Glycolic Acid for Blackheads and Enlarged Pores.

Of natural or synthetic origin, glycolic acid, formerly called hydroxyacetic acid, is the shortest of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). Glycolic acid is known for its exfoliating power and helps regulate sebum production in oily skin, thus inhibiting the formation of imperfections caused by the obstruction of pores by dead cells that lead to blackheads and acne. It is said to be among the best ingredients for blackheads and enlarged pores.

Blackheads and Large Pores: Why Are They Correlated?

Pores are the openings through which sebum flows. There are 300,000 of them on the face alone. They can become unsightly when dilated, giving the appearance of uneven skin texture. According to one study, skin pores are said to be “visible” and “enlarged” when their diameter is between 0.06 and 0.1 mm2.

When the pores are large and dilated, they constitute real “doors of entry” to the impurities (microparticles of pollution, dead cells, cosmetic residues, sebum…). A phenomenon of saturation then occurs, giving rise to “plugs”. In contact with the air, they oxidize and take on a dark color: blackheads (or open comedones) appear.

If left untreated, blackheads can break off and spill their contents outward, spontaneously or when pressed with the fingers or a blackhead remover. They can also progress to an inflammatory stage and form red and painful acne pimples.

You should avoid manipulating your blackheads as this can lead to infection. Nevertheless, they rarely eliminate themselves, and it can be interesting to have a professional skin cleansing or to have your blackheads mechanically extracted by a dermatologist. This helps to unclog pores, allowing the skin to better absorb the skin care products when applied.

You should know: When we talk about dilated pores, we are actually talking about dilated sebaceous gland openings along the hair follicles, while sweat excretion is correlated to the sweat gland pores. Nevertheless, in general jargon, we speak of dilated pores to refer to sebaceous pores, often more visible on the T-zone of the face (forehead, nose, chin).

How Does Glycolic Acid Help With Blackheads and Large Pores?

Glycolic acid is an ally of oily skin prone to acne. Its main property is to be keratolytic, thus preventing the accumulation of cellular waste on the surface of the epidermis. Indeed, by simple contact and without rubbing, glycolic acid will weaken the lipidic bonds between the cells of the horny layer to thus release the skin from its layer of dead cells. This property will thus make it possible to gradually remove the obstruction of the pores and to support the evacuation of the sebum.

It is also equipped with a seboregulating action. Indeed, glycolic acid allows fighting against the abnormal accumulation of sebum in the dilated pores of the skin, at the origin of the formation of the lesions of acne and the black spots. Known as the smallest of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), glycolic acid is able to easily penetrate the skin's layers. It acts both on the surface and deep down.

Skin Care With Glycolic Acid for Blackheads and Enlarged Pores.

In cosmetic products, the concentration of glycolic acid varies between 4 and 10%, making it possible to go from gentle exfoliation to more pronounced desquamation of the skin.

A concentration of 4% is sufficient to provide a moisturizing effect. These types of products can also be useful to prepare the skin to better tolerate more concentrated glycolic acid treatments by acidifying the corneal layer. Around 8 to 10%, the products, suitable for nighttime application, begin to have a keratolytic effect, such as a gentle peel, thus restarting the renewal of skin cells. These formulations will also help fight against skin irregularities (excess sebum, dilated pores, blackheads, etc.), incipient wrinkles and lack of radiance. Although the regulations do not provide for a maximum threshold of use, it is estimated that 20% is a reasonable limit for cosmetic care at home. At very high concentrations (>20%), peels should be performed under strict medical supervision in dermatologists' offices. 

At Typology, we have developed several products that contain glycolic acid.

  • The exfoliating serum: Composed of 10% glycolic acid, this treatment will play on the quality and texture of the epidermis by bringing hydration to the skin. This is thanks to its stimulating effect on cell renewal and the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, and by fighting against blackheads and dilated pores. We recommend using the glycolic acid serum for 4 weeks to see the effects: a smoother, more even complexion.

  • Exfoliating toner: With a glycolic acid content of 8%, this lotion exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores and thus limits the presence of blackheads, and tightens pores.

  • The exfoliating night cream: Combining the action of glycolic acid and mandelic acid, it helps to tighten pores and reduce the presence of blackheads in order to restore the skin's radiance. 

  • The peeling mask: Composed of an exfoliating complex (4 AHAs + 1 PHA), this concentrated gel-mask eliminates dead cells to unclog pores and refine skin texture. The complexion is unified and the presence of blackheads is reduced.

Be careful, glycolic acid is a photosensitizing active ingredient that reacts to exposure to UV rays. It is thus judicious to apply it in the evening and to use sun cream during the day when using the product.


  • KAWASHIMA M. & al. Glycolic acid chemical peeling improves inflammatory acne eruptions through its inhibitory and bactericidal effects on Propionibacterium acnesJournal of Dermatology (2012).


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