Get to know your skin acids
Have you noticed that skincare acids seem to have taken over the beauty marketplace? It turns out that “acid”—a word perhaps previously associated with burns or pain—can actually be quite good for your skin. To understand how these acids work requires a brief chemistry lesson.
You see, all acids have a pH balance. A seven on the pH scale is considered neutral, and any substance with a pH level under or over this number is considered acidic. What makes an acid beneficial to your skin depends on if it is an alpha or beta-hydroxy acid. These are also known as AHAs and BHAs, respectively.
These types of acids help exfoliate your skin, thus encouraging cellular turnover, skin rejuvenation, and collagen stimulation. The result: Skin that looks brighter and more youthful. Below, we’ll detail the most common acids you might encounter in your skincare routine and how they can be beneficial to you.
Most often derived from citrus, such as grapefruit and lemon, fruit acid is one of the gentler AHAs available. Because it is so mild, it most typically helps with the outer layer of the skin. It is for this reason that people applying fruit acid often combine it with a more intense acid, such as glycolic or lactic acid.
This popular skincare ingredient is actually derived from sugar. Of all the skincare acids on the market, it has the smallest molecule, which means that it penetrates your skin the deepest for an intense exfoliation of the skin. Because it is more intense, you’ll want to be more cautious using it, as it can irritate the skin. It’s helpful to ease into the frequency and amount of glycolic acid that you wish to apply.
Although Hyaluronic acid is technically an acid, it functions more as a humectant and offers ample moisturizing benefits for your skin. It can be found naturally in the fluids in your joints and eyes, as well as a lubricant in your joints and other parts of your body. In terms of how it can impact your skin, because of its deeply hydrating properties, it can help the skin become more flexible while reducing lines and wrinkles.
Lactic acid is gentler on the skin than glycolic acid, but due to its small molecule size, it can still produce quite a dramatic effect. It also pulls moisture to the skin, which means it is a great hydrating agent. We recommend this acid for people with sensitive skin who might have a difficult time tolerating glycolic acid.
Ideal for acne treatment, this acid expertly dissolves oil and dirt that sits on the surface of the skin and causes breakouts. At the same time, it helps sweep away old, dead skin cells, thus encouraging cellular turnover. Better yet, it naturally includes anti-inflammatory elements to help avoid any sort of irritation—which is ideal if your skin is inflamed in the first place.
Eager to try an acid? It’s wise to ease into their usage to find out how your skin might react. We recommend testing them on your arm a day or two before applying them to your face to ensure that you don’t have a strong or negative reaction. Look for high-quality skincare products containing acids, like LaserAway Beauty Wake Me Up Vitamin C Firming Day Serum and LaserAway Beauty My Hero Retinol Repair Night Serum, both of which contain hyaluronic acid complex.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.