Some people get a bit scared when they hear the word ‘acid’ when talking about products they put on their face as we usually associate this word with burning and pain. However, the right acid, the the right concentration and formula can work absolute wonders for the skin. Here is a quick basic breakdown of the most common ones we find in our lotions and potions and a bit about what they do and who should be using them.
From working in the skincare industry, I have known about the benefits of certain acids for a long time, and have used them actively for at least 6 years. I had terrible acne when I was growing up so was aware quite early about salicylic acid as this tends to be in all the washes and creams/ lotions to treat breakouts. I think people with sensitive skin can immediately dismiss the word ‘acid’ but honestly, if you use it in the right wear and the correct blend/ type, these can benefit ANY skin type.
(Pssss there are WAY more, but I just wanted to touch on the more common ones…)
Glycolic Acid. An AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) derived from sugar cane and probably the most well-known. This re-surfaces the skin, reduces pigmentation, brightens, helps with fine lines and acne scarring. A great anti-ageing acid, although can be quite strong if in a high % so sensitive skins may be better with another acid or use small amounts. If you are using this daily then an SPF is necessary. I have one cream I use with glycolic in it which is more of a PM cream (Clark’s Botanicals) and then a lot of my pads and exfoliating wipes/lotions have this in it. The most well-known one probably being the cult classic Liquid gold from Alpha H.
Lactic Acid. Also an AHA and one of my favourites. Lactic acid is derived from milk and is more gentle that glycolic. It is particularly good for acne and problematic skin types as it will exfoliate and brighten, but will also hydrate in the correct formula. I think lactic acid is one of the beauty therapist’s/ facialists’ favourites because of the multi-benefits.
Salicylic Acid. This is commonly used in anti-blemish treatments as it has antimicrobial & exfoliating properties. Unlike the above AHA’s, salicylic acid has the ability to penetrate into the pores as well as on the skin, hence why it is very good at clearing blackheads, whiteheads & blemishes. I still get quite bad breakouts and my pores are pretty prominent so most of my face washes tend to have a bit of salicylic in them.
Hyaluronic Acid. Probably the most thrown-about word in skincare right now. It’s not a new ingredient by any means, it’s just become very sought after mainstream brands are plugging products that contain it / naming products around it etc. Forget the name ‘acid’ in this and don’t let it fool you ; this is actually a GREAT hydrating ingredient with no ‘stripping’ or harsh actions. It is naturally in our body and joints so it is easily accepted into the skin. It absorbs and holds water therefore has a great plumping, lifting and hydrating effect on the skin. All skin types can benefit from a bit of hyaluronic, even oily.