Acids. They sound scary right? But listen up, they might just be the answer to your skincare woes. It’s all in how you use them.
1. Different strokes for different folks.
There are two families of acid; Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), and they both do very different things:
– AHAs are derived from natural sources such as sugar cane, milk and grapes. They nibble away at the glue which holds skin cells together, sloughing away dead skin to reveal fresh bright skin beneath, reduce pigmentation or scarring, and aiding in hydration long term. Common types of AHAs include lactic acid, glycolic acid and mandelic acid.
– BHAs are oil-loving, going deeper into the skin than AHAs and clearing out blocked pores. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, making them fantastic for uneven skin and breakouts. The most common type of BHA is salicylic acid.
2. For best results, take them on the reg.
You’ll often find acids in face masks, but unless you’re totally beauty obsessed, then masking is probably a special occasion ritual rather than a weekly one. For best results with acids you need to be using them regularly. Look to incorporate them into your routine at least twice a week, and depending on the product you choose you may even want to use them daily. Leave-on products containing acids such as swipe pads, toners and moisturisers are all great ways to get your acids on the reg. Remember though — all acids are active products so it’s imperative you start slow and build your use up gradually. If you get redness or peeling, reduce your usage and if it continues, stop altogether.
3. Purging is a thing – but it’s worth it.
Some people’s skin can get worse before it gets better when they first begin using salicylic acid (a BHA). Don’t fret though; it’s just doing its job. Because salicylic acid makes your cell turnover speed up, it can bring blemishes to the surface that were already brewing before you started using the product. Once the skin has purged you should begin to see results.
4. Stronger doesn’t mean better.
So you really want these acids to work — and fast, right? But before you reach for the strongest concentration you can find, know that stronger doesn’t always mean better. BHAs work really well at 1-2% concentration, while AHAs are effective at about 10%. You can go a little higher than this, but do so over time so as not to shock your skin.
5. Use SPF, always.
Our skin cells hold a small degree of sun protection, so when your dead skin is removed (like through acid use) your skin can become more sensitive to the sun. If you don’t already wear it, incorporate sunscreen into your morning skin routine.
Our top acid picks:
8. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening and Smoothing Moisture Treatment, $98
9. L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Anti Dark Spot Night Peeling Lotion, $46.99
10. Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant, $70