Up until a couple of years ago, I’m pretty sure we’d all steer clear of anything obviously acidic. Other than vinegar on my chips and the occasional lemon segment in my water, I never touched the stuff. Now acids have become a huge part of most people’s skincare routine, especially in higher end brands. I finally decided to sit down and research exactly what does what to your skin.
The main players in the acid game are ascorbic acid, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid. There are obviously way more, but since I’m not an expert in the field, today I’m going to focus on the main five.
When I’ve got my laboratory head on, all I can think about is how ascorbic acid is literally just vitamin C, and you find vitamin C in an awful lot of skincare products. In fact, brands such as The Body Shop have full skincare ranges centred around vitamin C, which is an antioxidant used to reduce fine lines, brighten the complexion and fade dark spots. Ascorbic acid is also suitable for all skin types so you’ll have no problems when using this. My personal favourite product that contains vitamin C is The Body Shop Glow Boosting Moisturiser which is a gel formula day cream to give your skin the boost of hydration and brightness that it always needs.
Glycolic acid is everywhere at the moment, especially with everyone lusting over Pixi Glow Tonic (it’s definitely been a fave in the beauty world for at least 2 years and I can’t see it going anywhere soon). Glycolic acid is an AHA – an alpha hydroxy acid – which reduces the appearance of fine lines as well as acting as a chemical peel to smooth the skin’s texture. Glycolic acid is found in sugar cane and is pretty much my go-to acid in my skincare routine since I am a big fan of the Pixi glow range.
A moisturiser can be found amongst the acids in the form of hyaluronic acid. I personally don’t have a lot of products containing hyaluronic acid, but this is an acid found in a lot of anti-aging skincare. One of the big game changers when it comes to acid skincare is The Ordinary, and they sell Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 which boosts skins vitality and vibrance, as well as drawing in moisture.
Lactic Acid is also offered by The Ordinary and is a gentler version of the aforementioned glycolic acid. As this is derived from milk, it has a moisturising effect meaning it is more suited to those with sensitive skin. I really like using The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% as opposed to the Pixi Glow Tonic on days where my skin is feeling a little sensitive but still requires that reduction in fine lines (they also sell a lower concentration of lactic acid if you have particularly sensitive skin).
The final acid of the big five that I’m going to talk about today is salicylic acid. Salicylic is another acid that in my head is something way less scary than ‘acid’, and it’s simply an acid found in acne treatment. It’s the tried and tested chemical peel that has worked well for so many years. This is a BHA – a beta hydroxy acid – which is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory to help reduce redness and shine. Salicylic acid can be found in other products by The Ordinary but personally, I hardly use salicylic in my every day routine.
I hope this helped you if you’ve been scratching your head when it comes to acid in skincare! I may do a post in the future about other acids, but since these are the bare bones it made sense to me to start here.