There are a variety of acids in skin care, and knowing which will benefit your skin type may be a bit confusing. When used at the right concentration and on the correct skin type, acids are some of the best treatments to battle acne, wrinkles, redness and irritation, and hyperpigmentation.
Skin acids induce cellular turnover. This process causes older or damaged cells to shed and new ones to quickly grow and replace them, thus improving skin’s texture and appearance. Different acids target specific skin concerns depending on the molecular size of the acid and its strength. Here is a break down of what type of acids work best with particular skin types. If you are not sure what your skin type is, ALWAYS see your skincare specialist for the correct diagnosis.
Salicylic Acid is best used on OILY, ACNE prone skin. With the ability to exfoliate the skin and keep pores clear, this helps reduce acne. It can also be used in higher concentrations like chemical peels to treat cystic acne, acne scars, melasma, sun damage and over active oil glands. Its nickname is BHA and is the only beta hydroxy acid in cosmetics, so don’t be confused while reading ingredients… they are the same thing. This acid is NOT for everyone though. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or allergic to Aspirin should steer clear. Those with darker complexions, please use cautiously as it has caused irregular lightening or darkening of skin.
Glycolic Acid is the most popular (AHA) alpha-hydroxy acid used in skin care. It comes from sugarcane and is the smallest AHA molecule, so it’s the most effective at getting into the skin. This is Mother Nature’s miracle ANTI-AGING acid. ALL skin types can benefit from glycolic. It’s the most gentle way to dissolve dead skin, reduce fine lines, fade dark spots, increase thickness and even out tone and texture. In higher strengths, glycolic can also be used in peels for faster result driven treatments. However, increased sun sensitivity is a known effect so SPF’s should always be worn.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is humectant, meaning it helps skin attract and retain moisture. For ALL skin types, it’s like a large glass of water for your face that keeps it plump. HA is naturally found in our bodies, mostly in the skin, eyes and connective tissue. Topically using hyaluronic acid helps to strengthen the barrier of the skin and helps make the skin smoother, softer and plumped. HA is also used as injectable fillers like Juvederm® or can be taken orally as a supplement. PRO TIP: spritzing your face with water before applying your HA will help them glide evenly into the skin and make them more effective.
Lactic Acid is another exfoliating AHA but is even gentler than glycolic. It is derived from milk so it has a moisturizing element that other acids lack. It is perfect for SENSITIVE skin types still looking for ANTI AGING to reduce lines, wrinkles and sun-damage.
Mandelic Acid, also in the AHA family, is derived from bitter almonds. It too is gentler than glycolic acid because it is twice the size so it takes longer for the skin to absorb. It aids in cell turnover, but targets more of the BRIGHTENING and LIGHTENING of the skin for SENSITIVE types. This is recommended in chemical peels for ethnic skin or those who hyperpigment easily due to rebound pigment. Rebound pigment occurs when resistance is built up to a particular substance due to excessive use. It can cause products to not be effective or can even cause the opposite effect.
Ascorbic/ L-ascorbic/ Vitamin C are all the same thing!! Great for ALL SKIN TYPES, this super antioxidant reduces fine lines, fights free radical damage and acts as a brightening agent for fading dark spots. This is a must have for those previous sun gods or goddesses that are trying to correct years of sun damage. PRO TIP: using hyaluronic acid + vit C helps products penetrate deeper.
Oleic Acid is great for DRY skin types. It is a moisturizing essential fatty acid found in oils such as almond oil and olive oil. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make this a must have for anyone suffering from ROSACEA, PSORIASIS, ECZEMA and DERMATITIS. * Linoleic Acid is a much lighter consistency of oleic, better used for OILY skin types.
*The higher the concentration, the more powerful and likely to cause irritation. Start slow and work your way up with either lower concentrations or limited use to every other day.
*Check the ingredient list to make sure the acid is the active ingredient that is listed near the top.
* DON’T MIX ACIDS
*Don’t use salicylic acid with any other acid at the same time. Skin irritation could happen.
*Don’t use salicylic acid and any products containing niacinamide (Vit B3)
*Don’t use glycolic acid OR lactic acid in combo with ascorbic (Vit C). It will be a waste of Vit C, time and money.
*Avoid using AHA’s with retinol/Retin-A (Vit A)
There are many more acids which help to improve our skin. Please see a professional or do your homework before adding a trendy new product to your regimen. Your skin is your largest organ and your 1st impression on people. Treat it kindly and LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN!