Tuesday 28 February 2023

A Guide To Acids | Part 1

Acids make for popular skincare ingredients but not all acids are created equal. Different acids provide different skincare benefits, so, to ensure you're up to date, I've shared a rundown of the most popular ones in the beauty business...

AHAs | AHAs - also known as alpha hydroxy acids - are water-soluble acids that chemically exfoliate the skin. They are naturally occurring substances found in various fruits, sugar cane, and sour milk, and work by dissolving the bonds between skin cells in the outer layer of the skin. There are several types of AHAs commonly used in skincare, with the most popular including citric acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid.

BHAs | BHAs - also known as beta hydroxy acids - are oil-soluble acids that also chemically exfoliate the skin. They penetrate deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. They also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making them ideal for treating  acne-prone skin  and  blackheads. There are a few types of BHAs used in skincare, including salicylic acid, beta-hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, and trethocanic acid.

Glycolic Acid | Glycolic acid is the smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids and is naturally derived from sugar. Glycolic acid is the deepest acting acid and the only one that has a remodeling effect in the dermis level. It works as a universal skin treatment as it has multiple benefits that include lightening, whitening, anti-aging, and anti-acne. On the downside, glycolic acid is one of the most irritating acids and can temporarily increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV exposure.

Glycolic acid is found in Kate Somerville's KateCeuticals Resurfacing Overnight Peel (£76 cultbeauty.co.uk), a science-backed, clinic-inspired formula that applies easily and absorbs quickly, leaving a clearer, brighter, and more youthful complexion. Formulated with retinol, niacinamide, and glycolic acid, the KateCeuticals Resurfacing Overnight Peel helps to plump the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while you sleep. Vitamin E is also included to moisturise the skin and protect it from environmental damage.

Lactic Acid | Lactic acid is the least aggressive alpha hydroxy acid. As lactic acid is naturally found in the body, it is very kind to the skin. In low concentrations, lactic acid works as a hydrating ingredient, however when the concentration is more than 12-15%, it works as a gentle exfoliant.

A high potency, purified grade lactic acid is found in the Sunday Riley Good Genes (£70 Space NK), a targeted skin treatment that deeply exfoliates the surface of the skin to deliver an instant glow. Together with skin brightening liquorice, this Good Genes visually reduces the look of dark spots and discolouration caused by sun exposure, for naturally brighter, even-toned complexion. It also instantly plumps the look of fine lines and wrinkles in three minutes.

Salicylic Acid | Salicylic acid is one of the best acids for treating acne and oily-prone skin. It is a phenolic acid that has the quality of both AHAs and BHAs. Because it is oil-soluble, salicylic acid is able to penetrate the skin’s sebum and break down the build-up of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells, unclogging pores and preventing breakouts from happening. On the downside, overuse of salicylic acid can be irritating and drying.

Salicylic acid (as well as glycolic acid, and lactic acid) is found in Scientia's After Facial Glow (£39 cultbeauty.co.uk), a two-step, 5-minute resurfacing and restorative facial peel duo designed to deliver skin that is renewed, restored, and glowing. In addition to chemical exfoliants, the After Facial Glow is also formulated with enzymatic exfoliants, that include papaya, pumpkin, and pomegranate, as well as ultra-fine bamboo spheres to the physically exfoliate.

Mandelic Acid | Mandlic acid is derived from bitter almonds and penetrates the skin less than glycolic acid, making it a gentle alternative. Mandlic acid is great for treating acne as it provides an antibacterial effect on the skin and promotes a more superficial exfoliation, dissolving blocked skin follicles. Unlike glycolic acid, mandelic acid doesn't temporarily increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV exposure.

Mandelic acid is found in the Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant (£32 cultbeauty.co.uk), a leave-on treatment that gently but effectively decongests pores, smooths texture, evens skin tone, and supports the skin's protective barrier. It is formulated with 3% mandelic acid, 2% salicylic acid, and 1% gluconolactone (a poly hydroxy acid). Antioxidant-rich liquorice root is included to help soothe skin and reduce excess sebum production, while glucosamine (an amino-acid compound) is also included to hydrate and visibly fade the look of dark spots.

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