Acids in skincare

Acids are currently flooding the skincare market but, what are they for?! In this article we are going to explain some of the most commonly found acids and explain how they can benefit your skin. Some key uses are hydration, exfoliation, brightening and anti-ageing, and reducing breakouts.

Glycolic acid: a derivative of sugarcane, it is one of many Alpha Hydroxy Acids. AHAs work by breaking down the glue that holds together dead and dull skin cells, revealing new and brighter skin. Regular use of glycolic acid can also help reduce breakouts by stopping the build up of dead skin cells in the pores.

Glycolic acid can also stimulate collagen production, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and can lighten hyper-pigmentation.

It has the smallest molecular size of all of the AHAs meaning it can penetrate deeper into the skin. This is very effective for people with dry, dull or congested skin. However this means it can be a bit strong for people with sensitive and reactive skin.

Lactic acid – derived from milk, lactic acid also belongs to the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family, and works in the same way glycolic acid does to brighten the skin. However, the molecular size of Lactic acid is larger than glycolic acid, meaning it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, and works more on the surface. Because of this, the acid is great for more sensitive skin types or for more normal skin types to use more regularly.

Salicylic acid – derived from willow bark, this acid is different to glycolic and lactic as it is a Beta

Hydroxy Acid, rather than an Alpha Hydroxy Acid. This means the structure of the acid is different, causing it to act differently on the skin. Although it is still an exfoliator, it is able to penetrate clogged pores and dissolve the build up of sebum and dead skin cells within them. This makes it an excellent skincare ingredient for anyone with acne, blackheads and whiteheads, or congested skin. It is also an anti-inflammatory and helps breakouts heal quicker. However, skin can become sensitised to this ingredient if overused, so it’s best used in moderation.

Hyaluronic acid – this naturally occurring acid is found in the human body, and unlike AHAs and BHAs, it is actually hydrating rather than exfoliating. This amazing molecule can hold 1000x it’s on weight in water. It's also a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from its surroundings. As we age, the naturally occurring Hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases - that’s where topical HA is great! It enhances the moisture in the skin, makes the skin look softer and smoother, plumps out fine lines and wrinkles, and works to protects the skin's barrier. There are different sizes of HA molecule, meaning it can penetrate different layers of the skin. This acid is great for all skin types, and can be used everyday to keep skin hydrated and healthy.

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