As you probably know by now, acids can revitalise your skin’s health, making it look toned, smooth and radiant. Some of them can diminish dark spots from sun exposure, some can fight ageing signs, some are used as chemical exfoliators and others act as skin brighteners. But it’s important to know how to use each of these products since they are often associated with skin irritation or chemical burns. You cannot just layer them on the face and expect great results.
So, let’s dive deep into the depts of skin care and learn which acids work best for a specific skin type, how to use more than one acid in the skin care routine and how to increase their effectiveness.
The first thing you should know is that there are two classes of exfoliating acids: alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) – water-soluble acids and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) – oil-soluble acids, both of them used to penetrate the outer layer of your skin and unclog the pores.
Among these two acid types, the most popular acids are salicylic (BHA) and glycolic (AHA).
Glycolic Acid is derived from sugarcane, it’s usually used in cleansers, serums and moisturizers and it can help you exfoliate your skin, evening its tone and supporting cellular regeneration. So, if you’re suffering from acne, hyper-pigmentation or ageing skin, glycolic acid my be something you need to incorporate into your beauty routine.
Salicylic Acid will help you reduce oil production and fight acne, breaking out the deeper layer of the skin, unclogging your pores and preventing breakouts. Salicylic acid can be used together with glycolic acid to eliminate dead skin cells on the outer later of your skin.
Benzoyl Peroxide is another well-known acne treatment but it shouldn’t be used together with salicylic acid because this combination can be highly irritating.
Azelaic Acid is an azelaic acid, usually used to remove dark spots and treat melasma, a sun condition that usually appears during pregnancy being triggered by sun exposure. More than an exfoliator, this acid can interrupt the pigmentation process until the discoloration disappears. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and it can decrease swelling and redness.
Ellagic Acid is a skin brightener being extracted from berries, nuts or pomegranates. So, if you’re afraid that the other options will lead to dryness or irritation, you can use this alternative to reduce pigmentation or treat dark spots.
Hyaluronic Acid, a natural component of your skin and a very popular acid, is mostly used in anti-ageing creams and moisturizers. Hyaluronic acid it’s not an exfoliant but it should be used together with an exfoliant, to reduce dehydration or irritation, in case it occurs. This acid can hydrate your skin, replenishing it and protect it from the harsh effects of exfoliators.
Retinol, the queen of the beauty world, is a very powerful skin treatment that can improve your skin appearance, diminishing fine lines and wrinkles and removing dark spots, but if not used correctly it can also leave your skin dry. So, if you want to amplify its effectiveness make sure you apply hyaluronic acid after you use retinol, to hydrate your skin. We don’t recommend using retinoic acid in tandem with hydroxy acids because in this combination they can cause serious irritation.
Ascorbic Acid is a derivative of Vitamin C and it has a powerful potential if used correctly. It has antioxidant properties and it can fight oxidative stress that leads to ageing skin, it can protect your complexion from the pollution effects, it can inhibit pigment production and it can stimulate collagen synthesis. Have in mind that this acid can become unstable if it’s exposed to light.
Ferulic Acid is an antioxidant that protects your collagen and elastin structures, fighting free radicals and the effects of UV radiation and pollution. Because it can stabilise Vitamin C, it is usually paired with ascorbic acid, enhancing the glow of your skin and plumping up its outer layer.
Kojic Acid is usually used to enhance the radiance of your skin, because it can inhibit the production of melanin.
Lactic Acid both an exfoliant and a moisturiser, derives from fermented milk and it’s designed to treat keratosis, flaky feet and dry skin. Because it’s milder than other AHA acids it’s mostly used in body lotions and less in beauty products for face.
Mandelic Acid is extracted from bitter almonds, has mild exfoliation properties and is less irritating than other exfoliators being more suitable for sensitive skin. It can also regulate sebum production and it can improve the skin’s firmness.
Phytic Acid has great antioxidant properties and it can offer your skin a plump, smooth texture.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t use acids?
If your skin is extremely inflamed, flaking or cracked, these acids won’t be absorbed as they should, causing irritation and redness. Also, if your skin’s tone is darker, you should approach these treatments with caution to avoid the risk of unwanted discoloration.
What to keep in mind when using acids on your skin
Since some of these acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it’s important to always protect your complexion with a broad-spectrum sun screen. Also, keep in mind that some of these acids shouldn’t be used together, especially if you have a serious skin condition. Talk to your dermatologist to identify which of the products we described in this article may be suitable for your skin type and slowly incorporate them into your skin care routine.