We see acids in so many skincare products, but it can sound like a scary and harsh ingredient. However, there are different types of acids, and they all do different things in your skincare routine.
Some of the most common acid ingredients are the exfoliating ones. These are the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and the Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, and Salicylic Acid all fall into this category.
Glycolic Acid is an AHA acid derived from sugar cane. It has tiny molecules, which help it penetrate the skin better. Therefore, it’s not only going to work on the top of your skin but the deeper levels as well. It’s mostly an exfoliant, and it’s going to help you shed your dead skin cells and make room for the new ones. It also helps stimulate fibroblasts in your skin, which, in return, stimulate collagen production.
You have to use an SPF if you use Glycolic Acid to make sure you are protecting your skin from the sun. However, if you have dehydrated and sensitive skin, Glycolic Acid may not be the perfect choice for you.
Lactic Acid is an AHA as well and is commonly found in a lot of foods. It is a very gentle exfoliator that is great for all skin types. The way the lactic acid works is very similar to Glycolic Acid. It doesn’t penetrate as deep as the Glycolic Acid does, but it helps increase the hydration levels in your skin.
Salicylic Acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). It is oil soluble, so it penetrates the pores and unclogs them as it exfoliates. It is excellent for people with acne, as it helps stop the sebum secretion. However, that is why it can feel drying on the skin. It also doesn’t work well on cystic acne, because that’s more of a hormonal issue.
Hyaluronic Acid is not an exfoliator. It’s very gentle on your skin and a humectant. Therefore, it adds hydration to your skin. Hyaluronic Acid is a sugar molecule that is naturally found in our skin. It helps hold water, so it makes our skin feel very hydrated and plump.
Hyaluronic acid pairs well with active ingredients, which is why it can be found with vitamin C. It also works well with other acids. However, it can be degraded very easily by potent ingredients like Glycolic Acid. It may be hard to choose between AHA and BHA, but using both of them can irritate sensitive skin. However, combining both can be beneficial for some skin types, like oily and combination skin.