Does Glycolic Acid Help Hair Growth? The Benefits of Chemical Exfoliants

Written by Our Editorial Team
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In the ever-evolving world of hair care, there's a constant search for ingredients and treatments that can promote healthy, vibrant hair growth. One compound that has gained attention in this regard is glycolic acid. Known for its exfoliating and resurfacing properties in skincare, the potential benefits of glycolic acid for hair growth have been a subject of ongoing discussion. In this comprehensive article, we'll explore the relationship between glycolic acid and hair growth, providing you with the information you need to determine if incorporating this ingredient into your hair care routine could be beneficial.

Does Glycolic Acid Help Hair Growth?

Yes, there is evidence to suggest that glycolic acid can potentially contribute to improved hair growth and overall hair health. Let's delve into the details and understand the mechanisms behind this claim.

Understanding Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugarcane. It is known for its ability to effectively exfoliate and resurface the skin, making it a popular ingredient in various skincare products. However, the potential benefits of glycolic acid extend beyond just the skin, and its applications in hair care have been the subject of ongoing research and experimentation.

The Mechanism of Action

When applied to the scalp and hair, glycolic acid can provide several benefits that may contribute to improved hair growth:

Exfoliation and Unclogging of Follicles

Glycolic acid's exfoliating properties can help remove dead skin cells, sebum, and product buildup from the scalp, effectively unclogging hair follicles and allowing for better circulation and nutrient delivery to the hair roots.

Stimulation of Collagen Production

Glycolic acid has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen, a crucial protein for the health and strength of hair follicles, which can support overall hair growth and thickness.

Improved Blood Flow

The exfoliating and resurfacing effects of glycolic acid on the scalp can help improve blood circulation, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles and promoting healthier hair growth.

Reduced Inflammation

Glycolic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and calm the scalp, reducing the impact of inflammatory conditions that may inhibit hair growth.

Evidence and Research on Glycolic Acid for Hair Growth

While the research on the direct impact of glycolic acid on hair growth is still limited, there are some promising studies and anecdotal evidence that support its potential benefits:

Scalp and Hair Studies

Some studies have shown that the use of glycolic acid-based treatments can lead to improvements in scalp health, hair thickness, and overall hair growth, particularly when combined with other hair-nourishing ingredients.

Anecdotal Evidence

Many individuals have reported experiencing thicker, fuller, and more vibrant hair after incorporating glycolic acid-infused hair care products into their routine, though these accounts are not backed by scientific research.

Combination with Other Treatments

Glycolic acid is often used in conjunction with other hair growth-promoting ingredients, such as biotin, caffeine, or minoxidil, and the synergistic effects of these combinations may enhance the potential for improved hair growth.

Incorporating Glycolic Acid into Your Hair Care Routine

If you're interested in exploring the potential benefits of glycolic acid for your hair growth, here are some ways you can incorporate it into your hair care routine:

Glycolic Acid-Infused Shampoos and Conditioners

Look for hair care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, that contain glycolic acid as a key ingredient. These can help exfoliate the scalp and nourish the hair from the root.

Glycolic Acid-Based Hair Treatments

Some hair care brands offer specialized treatments, like hair masks or serums, that are formulated with higher concentrations of glycolic acid to provide a more targeted approach to improving hair growth.

DIY Glycolic Acid Scalp Treatments

You can create your own glycolic acid-based scalp treatments by mixing a small amount of glycolic acid solution (typically available in varying concentrations) with a carrier oil, such as coconut or argan oil, and applying it directly to the scalp.

Considerations and Precautions

While glycolic acid can be a beneficial ingredient for hair growth, there are a few factors to keep in mind when using it:

Skin Sensitivity

Glycolic acid can be a potent exfoliant, and some individuals may experience skin irritation or sensitivity, especially on the delicate scalp area. It's important to start with lower concentrations and gradually increase the strength based on your tolerance.

Potential Dryness

The exfoliating properties of glycolic acid can sometimes lead to dryness or dehydration, particularly if the hair and scalp are not properly moisturized. Incorporating nourishing oils or deep conditioning treatments can help mitigate this issue.

Consistency and Patience

Achieving noticeable hair growth results from using glycolic acid-infused products may require consistent use over an extended period, as hair growth is a gradual process. Patience and diligence are key.


In conclusion, there is evidence to suggest that glycolic acid can potentially contribute to improved hair growth and overall hair health. The exfoliating, collagen-stimulating, and circulation-boosting properties of glycolic acid can create an optimal environment for healthier hair follicles and stronger, more vibrant hair.

While the direct scientific research on the relationship between glycolic acid and hair growth is still limited, the anecdotal evidence and the underlying mechanisms of action are promising. Incorporating glycolic acid-infused hair care products into your routine, in conjunction with other hair-healthy practices, may help you achieve the lush, fuller hair you've been seeking.

Remember to start with lower concentrations of glycolic acid and gradually increase the strength based on your individual tolerance and skin sensitivity. Additionally, ensure that you are properly hydrating and nourishing your hair and scalp to counteract any potential drying effects of the acid.

Ultimately, the journey to healthy, robust hair is a personal one, and glycolic acid can be a valuable addition to your arsenal of hair growth-promoting tools. By exploring the potential benefits of this ingredient and adapting your hair care routine accordingly, you can embark on a transformative hair care experience that supports the growth and vitality of your locks.

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