Hydroxyacetic Acid is the smallest of the a-hydroxy acids. It is colorless, odorless, and very soluble in water. Also known as glycolic acid, it is commercially available in crystal form, as well as in aqueous solutions of varying concentrations.
It's biggest use is in the making of cosmetic skin care products. It diminishes lines on the skin making them appear younger. it accomplishes this by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. This results in an exfoliating action, tightening the skin and giving it a youthful look. Synthetic glycolic acid is used in leather tanning, textile dyeing, and is also used as a flavoring agent and preservative in food. Hydroxyacetic acid is widely used in the adhesives and plastics industry as well.
It can be found naturally in sugar beets, cane sugar, and unripe grapes. Glycolic acid is known for it's ability to go through skin, and could be dangerous if ingested.