In any anti-ageing skincare, acids are very common, but understand how they truly work, it can take more than a simple search on google. Acids not only help to keep your skin young and healthy, but they also play an important role to treat acne. Learn how to take advantage of all the different acids – glycolic, salicylic, hyaluronic, l-ascorbic acid, etc – that are out in the market, for your specific skin concern.
If every time you buy skincare, you ask yourself if you are doing the right choice, you are not alone, let me tell you. Even if you are able to understand some of the ingredients, understanding if you can combine different creams or serums together, that can be a work for an expert. I end up doing my own research to stop asking to beauty specialists or search always on google, what acids should work or not together. I hope the result of my research will give you enough confidence to trust yourself to pick your own skincare routine. Now, the million dollar question, what acids are in the market and what do they do?
1)Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHA – Acids that are obtained from fruit or milk. They are water-soluble substances, acting as chemical exfoliants for our skin, unclogging pores and evening out skin tone. It should be used as the first step in skincare, because of the low PH that penetrates easily in the deeper layer of the skin. Example of AHA:
- Glycolic acid – Derived from sugar cane, it stimulates collagen production and exfoliates dead skin cells. Ideal for normal, combination or oily skin. Not suitable if you are pregnant. If you never used it before, it’s advisable to start slowly and then increase it day after day. Better results if used at night. My favourite is the one from Beauty Pie, Dr Glycolic, right below (read article to learn more about Beauty Pie –> Beauty Boxes: Glossybox vs Beauty Pie – Michele Goes Glossy). Besides that, Mario Badescu and Pixi‘s glycolic toner are the most popular in the market.
- Lactic Acid – Nowadays it’s more usual to be obtained synthetically, than from milk, since synthetic origin is more stable. It increases skin hydration. It’s a gentle exfoliator, not harsh like glycolic acid, hence good for all skin types. Some lactic acid skincare that you could try are: Dermatologica skin resurfacing cleanser, Guerlain Gommage de Beaute and The Ordinary Lactic Acid.
2)Beta Hydroxy Acid or BHA – It’s an oil soluble substance which penetrates deeper into our pores, dissolving any excess or any bacteria that causes acne, controlling sebum production.
- Salicylic Acid – Amazing for acneic skin, but not for cystic acne. It shouldn’t be used in excess, as it can change the normal skin PH. Pregnant and people with dry or sensitive skin should avoid it. What to try: La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that it can be found naturally in the skin, but its levels drop once we start ageing. It’s an humectant, which means that it will boost hydration when combined with a moisturiser. Note that if used alone, it can actually absorb water from the skin and cause dry skin. It’s synthetically derived and its antioxidant properties when combined with a moisturiser keep skin plumped and radiant. It’s suitable for every skin type. I personally, like to use it as a serum, either day or night time, followed by my regular day or night cream. Recommended hyaluronic serums: Revolution 2% Hyaluronic Acid, Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid and La Roche Posay Hyalu B5.
Retinoid is also known as vitamin A or retinol. It smooths out fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen, evens out skin texture, reducing pigmentation and age spots and it kills the bacteria that causes acne. Pregnant should not use any type of retinoid. It should never be mixed with glycolic acid. What products to go for? All the Beauty Pie Super Retinol range, eye cream, face mask, serum and night cream, which I absolutely recommend, The Ordinary Retinol 0.2%, really gentle formula for sensitive skin and Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream.
More popular as vitamin C, it brightens the skin, promotes elastin and collagen production. It’s a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, regenerating damaged skin tissue. Suitable for all skin types. I like to use vitamin C as a serum and these are my favourite: Beauty Pie Superdose C, La Roche Posay Vitamin C and Lumene Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence.
Niacinamide or vitamin B3 it’s a water soluble vitamin that can be found naturally in our skin and it helps dullness, pore size, sebum production, skin texture and skin resilience. Good for all skin types. Try: The Ordinary Niacinamide, Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Booster and Face Theory Porebright N10 Serum.
Skin friendly ingredient that helps to calm down inflammation, kills bacteria related to acne and it treats post-acne marks and hyperpigmentation. Suitable for all skin types. Products recommended: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid, Face Theory Lumizela A15 Serum and Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster.
This is an antioxidant natural plant based acid. It stabilizes and strengthens the effect of other antioxidants, fighting against ageing, brightening and smoothing the skin. Exactly like vitamin C, it neutralises free radicals, repairing damaged cells. All skin types can use it, but if you have sensitive skin, it might cause some reaction. Try products like: Timeless Vitamin C+E+Ferulic Acid Serum, Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster and SkinCeuticals Vit C+E+Ferulic.
WHAT ACIDS WORK BEST TOGETHER TO MAXIMIZE THEIR POSITIVE EFFECTS?
- Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C
- Azelaic Acid + Vitamin C
- Retinol + Niacinamide
- Niacinamide + Vitamin C
- Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid
Note: Regarding exfoliating acids, only one should be used at a time.
Remember: Use always SPF at day time when using acids in your skincare routine.
After this lesson, I hope next time you will go to shop your skincare, you will understand better which acids to go for according to your skin type and skincare concerns.