10 Important Acids for Your Skincare Arsenal

Applying a drop of acid to finger using dropper
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These days, it seems impossible to talk to any skin care enthusiast without hearing never-ending praises about the alleged superpowers of cosmetic acids.

So, what are these skin care super-chargers? And how are they able to contribute to a glowing complexion, exactly?

Salicylic Acid

This is one of the most represented acids in commercial skin care, and if you’ve suffered from acne at any point in your life, you’re probably already aware of it.

Salicylic acid belongs to the group of so-called beta hydroxy acid, which can be incredibly beneficial to people who suffer from frequent breakouts and other kinds of irritation.

This acid, which is derived from willow bark, has the ability to penetrate deep into the pores, where it can effectively dislodge excess sebum, dirt and other pollutants. And when your pores are purified from the daily grime, the chances of experiencing skin flare-ups notably diminish.

Moreover, salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can successfully get rid of the bacteria that is causing your skin to break out in acne.

Even though this acid is usually recommended to people whose skin is prone to acne and on the oilier side, even dry, normal and combination type might benefit from having salicylic acid in their routine, especially if they notice frequent occurrence of spots or blackheads.

There definitely isn’t a shortage of products infused with this potent acid on the market. These days, you will be able to find face washes, toners, spot treatments and other kinds of products enriched with this acne-eradicating agent.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a natural substance that can be derived from milk, veggies, fruit and other kinds of plants.

It belongs to the group of alpha hydroxy acids and one of its main draws is the fact that it’s gentle on the skin, unlike a lot of other cosmetic acids.

As such, it represents an ideal skin care option for people with sensitive and irritation-prone skin.

The benefits of including this type of acid into your skin care are plentiful.

For one, they can be a valuable weapon if you’re battling signs of premature aging. Due to its delicate, yet potent exfoliating powers, lactic acid can effectively reduce the appearance of fine lines, uneven texture and sun damage.

Moreover, lactic acid can reinforce the protection of the skin by promoting lipid cells that help form its barrier. This way, you will be able to lock in any moisturizing products you apply, but also keep your skin shielded from outside damage.

Like it’s the case with most acids, frequent use of salicylic can make the outer layers of the skin more vulnerable to sun’s harmful UV rays. To nip this problem in the bud, always top off your skin care routine with a hefty dose of sunscreen if you plan on applying salicylic acid-infused products during the daytime.

Hyaluronic Acid

Not all acids are designed to exfoliate the outer layers of the skin. Some of them also contribute to increased moisture levels in your cells, which will result in a glowing, soft complexion.

This is certainly the case with hyaluronic acid, one of the essential ingredients for every moisture-centric skin care regimen.

Illustration on the effects of hyaluronic acid

The power of hyaluronic acid lies in its immense ability to attract the moisture from the air and keep it tightly sealed in your cells.

As such, it is an absolute godsend for people who suffer from dry or dehydrated skin.

In these cases, simply replenishing your skin with moisturizer won’t always do the trick, and adding a humectant like hyaluronic acid can prove to be the real game changer.

Hyaluronic acid is also a welcome ingredient in all skin care routines focused on anti-aging; since the skin loses its ability to retain water with age, adding a product infused with this acid can assist your cells in obtaining and preserving hydration.

This is not to say that other skin types won’t benefit from introducing this H2O-boosting acid in their beauty regiment; oily, combination and sensitive complexions will also contribute to a healthier, more radiant appearance if they treat their cells with serums, essences and moisturizers enriched with this powerhouse ingredient.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic is yet another acid that belongs to the category of AHAs.

It is derived from cane sugar, and it definitely one of the more commons acids found in your everyday skin care products.

This means that glycolic acid has the potential to be as powerful as more intense peels, while remaining decidedly gentle on your skin.

Because of this, it’s ideal for refining your skin and tackling those lesser-spotted imperfections that are diminishing the appearance of your complexion, such as fine lines, acne scars and dark spots.

Glycolic acid acts by gently decomposing and wiping away dead skin cells, excess sebum and other toxins that amass on your face. By dislodging all the unnecessary buildup on your skin, glycolic acid is contributing to accelerated cell turnover and growth of new, healthy skin.

Due to its potency, glycolic acid should be used with a couple of preventive measures.

For example, you might want to start slow with application before you decide whether your skin agrees with this ingredient, especially if your complexion is on the more sensitive side.

Also, if you want to avoid any unwanted side-effect of glycolic acid usage while you’re going about your day, it’s best to test out your product at night, then observe the results in the morning.

Kojic Acid

Even though kojic acid is not as widespread as some of its siblings, it’s certainly gaining more recognition in the world of beauty and skin care.

This complexion-enhancing ingredient, which has for centuries been used in the Far East, is derived from a certain type of mushroom.

More than anything, kojic acid is hailed for its incredible ability to penetrate deep into the skin and regulate the production of melanin.

As such, it can be a helpful treatment for anyone who is battling age spots, hyperpigmentation, sun damage and other symptoms of melanin overproduction.

There is an ever-increasing number of products infused with this skin-brightening acid on the market, and these days, you can find it in just about every form, from serums and toners to face masks and moisturizers.

People who have sensitive skin should take it easy with products enriched with kojic acid; try using he products once a week initially, then increase the usage if you find your complexion is benefiting from this ingredient.

Ascorbic Acid

Despite its overly chemical sounding name ascorbic acid is just another name for Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that can have numerous positive effects on your skin.

More than anything, Vitamin C is known for its powerful skin-brightening properties and it is one of the most common treatments for fading age spots and other symptoms of hyperpigmentation.

It can also be a welcome addition to an anti-aging regimen, as it helps refine the complexion and erases those small imperfections associated with mature skin.

To maximize on the presence of Vitamin C or ascorbic acid in your skin care, it’s best that you invest in a serum in which Vitamin C is the main ingredient.

One thing to keep in mind is that Vitamin C should not be used at the same time as some other acids, for example those belonging to AHA and BHA groups, as they are liable to counteract each other’s effects.

If you still want your skin to be nourished with both, you can use your AHA or BHA of choice as a part of your AM routine, then switch to Vitamin C serums and treatments at nighttime.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is one of the lesser known, yet notably effective skin care ingredients, especially for individuals who are battling rosacea and other symptoms of skin irritation.

This substance is known for its anti-bacterial properties, which means it can quickly soothe inflamed skin and help redness, itchiness and swelling.

Because of its ability to kill off harmful bacteria that has accumulated in your pores, azelaic acid is also a helpful treatment for people who suffer from acne and occasional breakouts.

Not only will it make sure your skin is rid off all the potential irritant, it will also soothe already existing irritation and aggravated patches of the skin.

Azelaic acid is yet another ingredient that can help impede on the overproduction of melanin in the skin and fade signs of hyperpigmentation and sun damage.

Generally speaking, azelaic acid is safe to use for all skin types. If you want a specific product to be effective on your skin, opt for formulas that contain at least 15% of this component.

Due to its exfoliating properties, it’s important to follow up azelaic acid application with a sunscreen infused with high SPF.

Oleic Acid

This monosaturated fatty acid can be derived from various animal and plant sources.

When used in skin care, the benefits of this omega-9 acid can be multifold.

To begin with, it can act as a powerful moisturizing agent, which leads to a supple, more glowing complexion.

Oleic acid is also a strong antioxidant, which means it can be potent in eradicating free radicals that are causing damage to your skin cells.

This in turn slows down the aging processes in your skin and prevents the occurrence of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

Finally, oleic acid can be incredibly soothing on the skin. That’s why it’s recommended for people who are experiencing redness and irritation. It also promotes skin regeneration and repairs damaged tissue.

Mandelic Acid

If you’re on the market for a brand new skin care acid, but are still to squeamish to try anything too potent, perhaps mandelic acid is your ideal entry-level ingredient.

This substance can effectively exfoliate the skin, while remaining gentler than some of its counterparts, such as lactic or glycolic acid. 

Mandelic acid, the most delicate of all the AHAs, can also get deep into your pores and melt away the daily grime and excess sebum that are suffocating your skin.

This contributes to a clearer complexion and diminishes chances of further breakouts and zits.

Due to its soothing properties, mandelic is also the perfect acid for hyper-sensitive and easily irritated skin.

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic acid is one of those ingredients that you are bound to hear a lot more about in the months and years to come.

This acid is a powerful antioxidant that can fight off free radicals and slow down deteriorating processes in the skin.

In real-life terms, this means a decreased appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage.

Ferulic acid is also specific in the sense that it can boost the activity of other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E. That’s why it can be useful to mix and match products infused with this acid with other active ingredients in your regimen to maximize on its benefits.

Armed with this newfound knowledge about acids, now you’ll be a master at reading labels next time you visit your favorite drug store. With a little bit of research, we are positive you will soon find an acid that will be the right fit for your skin and help you build a luminous, youthful complexion.

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