Often when I mention to people that they should consider using acids on their face the reaction I get is “but it will burn my face off!”. If used correctly, acids can do wonders for your skin. I’m hoping that this post will open you up to the wonderful world of alpha hydroxy, beta hydroxy and poly hydroxy acids and show you that they’re the good guys. I’m also going to share some acid based products that I use and enjoy.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
I love Caroline Hirons‘ analogy. AHA act like PacMan, eating away at the dead skin cells and breaking up the stuff that holds them together, revealing smoother and more youthful skin. This group of acids comprises of lactic, glycolic and the lesser known tartaric, mandelic and malic. They are great for all skins but particularly dry to normal skin types and those showing signs of ageing. They can help to improve the general tone of the skin, as well as reduce signs of sun damage.
Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
Salicylic Acid is the lone ranger in this category but it’s a powerful one. As well as helping with the overall exfoliation of the skin, Salicylic Acid goes past the surface of the pores to unclog and dissolve oil. If you think of AHA as eating away at the surface, BHA go way deeper. Hand in hand they’re a great combination. Salicylic acid is great for those with acne prone skin, blemishes, clogged pores and hyper-pigmentation.
Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA)
Poly Hydroxy Acids such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are similar in their function to the AHAs but they do it in a gentler way. The molecule size is bigger so they take a bit longer to penetrate, which is good if you have sensitive skin. They’re also amazing for dehydrated skins as they contain humectant properties, meaning that they preserve moisture in the skin.
Products That I Love
I enjoy the combination of acids offered in the Lixir Skin Night Switch PHA/AHA 10% formulation because it’s simple and it gets straight to the point. It’s blend of three acids – lactic (AHA), lactobionic (PHA) and phytic acid. I find this product makes my skin noticeably smoother the next day and I can use it a few times a week without any irritation. Lactic acid helps to dislodge the dead skin cells, lactobionic acid acts as an anti oxidant and the phytic acid filters heavy metals.
Jane Scrivner Skinfoliate is unique in the sense that it uses AHA and BHA that have been extracted from plants. For example, we have lactic acid from corn, glycolic acid from pineapple, malic and tartaric acid from apple cider vinegar and bilberries, salicylic acid from white willow. I find this product really effective and I love that it’s a blend of the AHA and BHA meaning that it’s multi-tasking, targeting a variety of skin issues at once. This product truly shows that using a natural product doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on efficacy. This product was gifted.
I have dehydrated skin with the occasional blemish and a few really stubborn clogged pores so I tend to use Salicylic Acid (or BHA) as a spot treatment. I like The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid Solution because it’s reliable and it always gets rid of my blemishes swiftly and with minimal fuss. I place a couple of drops onto my finger and tap the solution in. If I do this at night time I wake up with a significantly smaller spot which is completely gone by the next day if I continue to apply the solution to it. It’s something everyone should have in their skincare stash.
Recently I picked up the COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid from Vim & Co Pharmacy and I immediately noticed a difference with the little surface bumps on my skin. It has completely eradicated 98% of my whiteheads but there are a few stubborn ones which I am working on reducing with the help of salicylic acid as well. I’ve found this product to be quite powerful and fast acting and I only have to use it a couple of nights per week. It is recommended to avoid using retinols or vitamin C on the days that you use this product so I make sure that the rest of my skincare is very gentle on the evenings that I apply it.
I must mention a few rules that need to be followed when it comes to acids. The first rule is, start slow. Building up tolerance to acids is imperative especially for those who have never used any type of acid. Start with one night per week, then build up to two, three and so on. Always keep an eye on what your skin is doing and stop if you see any major irritation (a bit of a tingle is ok). Secondly, you must MUST use SPF30 or more daily on your face. There is no point using acids and revealing lovely, smooth skin and then frying it in the sun. Be sensible and you will be rewarded.
There are of course other fantastic acids to introduce into your skincare routine such as Hyaluronic Acid, Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A) and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) but more on those in a future post.
I hope you enjoyed this rundown on my favourite ways to use acids and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Leave a comment below or email me and connect with me on Instagram. To listen to the latest Fluke podcast, please visit iTunes.
Next week: A Summer Christmas makeup look