You’ve probably seen or heard about skincare products like serums, cleansers, and moisturizers with active ingredients that help reduce wrinkles, brighten skin or prevent breakouts. Well, these ingredients are acidic, such as salicylic acid, popular for treating acne, or ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which are generally considered for their antioxidant properties. For many, hearing the word “acid” may think of terrifying chemical burns. But actually, when used in the right concentrations, acids are some of the most beneficial ingredients available for skincare. Exfoliating acids are wonderful tools used to combat acne, wrinkles, age spots, scars, and uneven skin tone.
But with so many acids on the market, it can seem overwhelming to know which one to use. That is why we will try to tell you the main thing about easy acids for skincare. But keep in mind that there are a variety of acids and other assets on the market. Some require a prescription, while others are available in over-the-counter serums, cleansers, and toners of varying strengths. So it is best to try to consult with an expert before starting to include these ingredients in your skincare.
What are exfoliating acids and how do they work for skincare?
Basically, it is an ingredient that causes physiological changes in one of the layers of the skin. Acids actually change the skin in some way, rather than just covering or covering up the blemish. Acids, which are often what people refer to when talking about active ingredients in skincare, can lower the pH levels of the skin. In this process of lowering the pH level, the skin becomes acidic, and this works to dissolve and digest dead skin cells. Because acids change the skin on a chemical level, they often have a very noticeable effect on the appearance of the skin by peeling off the outer layer of the skin, making it more luminous.
They can also reduce the visible effects of UV damage, decrease collagen breakdown, and help restore the skin’s barrier. The good thing about an acid scrub is that you get immediate results. You can use acid to soften, make pores look smaller, to remove surface dryness. They are good at making skin look brighter and reflective of light. They also help correct breakouts. Below we will indicate two of the most common types of acids in skincare, they are alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids.
Most common acids in skincare
AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are water-soluble compounds and are often used as exfoliants. Alpha hydroxy acids are probably the most common products used in skincare to treat sun spots, pigmentation, to help with skin texture and tone, to help with fine lines. Common AHAs include glycolic acid, which can help with dryness and age spots, and lactic acid, which is great for gently exfoliating and hydrating sensitive skin.
On the other hand, BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) are oil-soluble, which means they can penetrate clogged pores to deeply cleanse the skin. These can help with oilier skin and acne-prone skin. They can improve surface texture, unclog pores, and remove acne-causing sebum. One of the best-known BHAs is salicylic acid, which is generally used to treat acne. But in addition to AHAs and BHAs, there are other acids such as PHAs (polyhydroxy acids). These are similar to AHAs in that they are soluble in water. However, they have a larger molecule size, which means that they don’t penetrate as deeply and are less prone to irritation than AHAs. But they also provide additional hydrating and antioxidant benefits.
Another acid that we can mention is retinoic. Retinoid is a term used to describe a group of topical compounds derived from vitamin A and has many different forms including Retin-A, retinoic acid, retinol, retinol palmitate, retinol propionate (also known as pro-retinol ), retinaldehyde, adapalene, isotretinoin, tretinoin, and tazarotene, among others. It can be said that it is a true anti-aging powerhouse. It should be mentioned that retinoids have been researched for years and are clinically proven to increase cell turnover, boost collagen production, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, minimize discoloration and sunspots, reduce acne, and improve texture and skin. the tone in general.
How to use exfoliating acids
You should know that there are many types of exfoliating acids such as cleansers, toners, serums, and creams. So you should look at your current skincare line to determine which one would work best with your routine. Of course, you could preferably enlist the help of an expert. You can start with an acid maybe twice a week, like maybe every three nights, just to see how your skin is doing. Keep in mind that acids can make your skin hypersensitive to UV rays, so it’s best to use exfoliating acids at night.
Of course, it is essential to follow the instructions provided with the product you are using. You don’t want to overuse any exfoliating product, depending on the type of exfoliating acid, every other day should be enough. You should also take into account any other assets you are using, as too many assets can cause irritation, breakouts, and sensitivity. It is advisable to omit active ingredients such as retinol or antioxidants immediately after using an acid exfoliator.
What to keep in mind when using exfoliating acids
Some research suggests that topical application of some acids can make skin sensitive to the sun, so be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning to protect your face. Of course, you should also keep in mind that there is an extensive list of acids that perform different functions on the skin. Your dermatologist can help you identify which ones are best for your skin type and what you want to treat. Be aware that AHA products can cause skin irritation. It may create some redness and burning or peel after using it. Of course, that depends on the acid you are using and its concentration.
Lactic acid might be a good option for people with especially sensitive skin because it is one of the most hydrating AHAs. Or you can look for fatty acids like linoleic or oleic acid, which are not AHAs, which hydrate the skin and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. Acid-based products can also increase sensitivity to the sun. Remember that you are basically exfoliating the skin, so you are removing the top layer of the skin. So consider really hydrating yourself well and wearing really good sunscreen.
In general, it is best to consult a dermatologist about which acids and actives are best for you, depending on the results you are trying to achieve. Of course, there may also be other more suitable products. There may be ways to add a little bit of this to your regimen that will be less irritating than doing something really aggressive. Something that is also of utmost importance is that there are many acids available online, which are not always regulated by competent authorities, so we recommend purchasing the brands or formulations recommended by your dermatologist.
Exfoliating acids and their different functions in skincare
Salicylic Acid Known Acne Cleanser
Salicylic acid has been around for a long time. It is well known for its ability to exfoliate the skin and keep pores clean, which helps reduce acne. You will find this activity in serums and cleansers in concentrations between 0.5 and 2 percent, as well as in localized treatments for outbreaks. Salicylic acid is also used in higher concentrations as an exfoliating agent to treat acne, acne scars, dark spots or skin discoloration, sun damage, and age spots in dermatology clinics. It is so effective that it is used in wart removal solutions.
Glycolic acid is an anti-aging weapon
Glycolic acid is the most widely used alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) in skincare. It comes from sugar cane and is the smallest AHA, making it the most effective at penetrating the skin. It is very effective in exfoliating the skin and reducing fine lines, preventing acne, removing dark spots, increasing skin thickness, and unifying skin tone and texture. So it’s no wonder you find it in many skin care products. It is generally found in concentrations below 10 percent. Like salicylic acid, glycolic acid is also used in peels to treat acne and pigmentation. However, using glycolic acid increases your sensitivity to the sun, so you should also use sunscreen to avoid additional sun damage.
Azelaic acid to say goodbye to pimples
Azelaic acid has been one of the leading pimple-fighting treatments for the past three decades and is found in many prescription creams. Keeps pores open kills bacteria, and reduces inflammation. It is typically found in 15-20 percent concentrations in creams designed to be applied to the entire face, morning and evening. Azelaic acid generally has very few side effects, but in some people with very sensitive skin, it can sting, peel, and redden. In addition to treating pimples, azelaic acid is also a skin-lightening agent, making it useful for fading after minor acne marks.
Kojic acid to lighten the skin
Kojic acid is produced by bacteria used in the fermentation of rice for the production of sake. It is a popular ingredient in Asian skincare products thanks to its whitening and anti-aging properties. As you may already know, the word “whitening” is used by many Asian skincare brands to refer to decreased hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. But you must bear in mind that, although it is truly very effective, it is very irritating to the skin.
Mandelic acid for smooth and even skin
Mandelic acid is another alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), derived from bitter almonds. Like glycolic acid, it is an exfoliating agent that helps prevent acne, treat sun damage, and unifying pigmentation. However, because its molecular structure is larger, it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply as glycolic acid, making it less irritating to the skin.
You should know that the higher the concentration, the more likely the acid will irritate the skin. It is recommended that you always do a patch test and start with a lower concentration and work your way up. Many acids offer multiple benefits, and since they can come in many different formulations, you may end up using more than one, check the ingredient list to make sure the acid is the active ingredient. Remember not to apply different acids at the same time. Some acids can interact with others, but sometimes it doesn’t work.
Don’t use salicylic acid with any other acid at the same time. Extreme skin irritation can occur when mixed. Avoid salicylic acid with products that contain niacinamide. Don’t use glycolic acid or lactic acid in combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This will make the benefit of ascorbic acid wear off before it even starts to work. Avoid using AHAs with retinol. To avoid all this, it is preferable that you consult your dermatologist and he will help you organize the acids between day and night use.