Let's just all admit...there are too many acids and not even guides explaining the differences between them all. Let's break it down with our guide to skincare acids.
Where does it come from? Derived from the Sugar Cane ( considered and AHA )
How does it work with the skin? Glycolic Acid has the lowest molecular weight, meaning it can penetrate deeper than most acids. Over the years I’ve explained to people that Glycolic Acid helps to dissolve the glue like structures of dead skin surrounding pores. Do you find yourself getting facials or using manual exfoliants but unable to fully extract blackheads from your pores? Usually it's because there is a stock pile of tightly bonded skin cells that are stuck together and need to be dissolved in order to be sloughed away. This is also a great acid for people with tight skin that needs softening for product penetration or extractions. Because Glycolic Acid is so small, it also is able to stimulate collagen, stimulate cellular turn-over, & soften fine lines, giving the skin a brighter and more plumped appearance.
Favorite Glycolic Based products
Epicuren Glycolic Skin Peel Lotion
An evening treatment used 3-4 alternating nights a week by itself. As with most acids - do not apply during the day and be aware that your skin will be more sensitive to the sun!
Glycolix Moisturizing Cleanser
A gentle soap free wash, that helps to remove dead skin cells and debris, while also containing green tea extract, CoQ10, & Vitamins A, C & D to help soothe irritation and inflammation in the skin. Use only a few nights a week if you're dry or have sensitive skin.
Where does it come from? It is naturally derived from rooster combs and potatoes, or artificially manufactured in a lab. Our bodies also produce hyaluronic acid in our bodies as lubrication between our joints.
How does it work with the skin? Hyaluronic Acid has an incredible capacity to hold up to 1000x its weight in water. Its main uses are to supply hydration to the skin and plump fine lines and wrinkles. Often times it is used as a serum on its own or as an ingredient in moisturizers and toners. Beware though, if you do not use a hydrating mist or an additional humectant it will drain your own skin of its hydration, as it always needs a source water to do its job. If your skin tends to run dry, you will rarely feel relief from this ingredient alone. If you are more on the oiler side, a simple and fasting absorbing hyaluronic serum may just the right amount of moisture without clogging the pores with unnecessary ingredients.
Favorite Hyaluronic Based product
Skin Medica HA5
One of the most advanced HA’s on the market, Skin Medica’s HA5 blends together 5 different strains of Hyaluronic Acid which work together to hold moisture in the skin and plump up fine lines. It gets assistance from peptides and vitamin E for additional free radical support.
Where does it come from? Lactic Acid is considered an AHA and comes from milk and fruit sugars.
How does it work with the skin? Lactic Acid has a larger molecule size, and therefore stays on the outer levels of the skin. It clings to dead cells and helps to extract pigment and discoloration from the skin, along with encouraging cell turnover and skin renewal. This is the perfect acid for people who are dry and more on the sensitive side. Lactic acid products (unless and extremely low level) should be used in the evening, and can cause sun sensitivity.
Favorite Lactic Acid Based Products
Rhonda Allision Pumpkin Cleanser
This cleanser is creamy yet effective in resurfacing and brightening the skin. Pumpkin contains Vit A and Beta Carotene to lend antioxidant support as well as a nice level of lactic acid for deep cleansing and support for photo aged skin.
Freck Cactus Water Toner
This toner deposits a wonderful blend of plant and vegetable extracts to promote healing and balance in the skin. The lactic acid is a gentle but effective way to exfoliate and deeply clean the skin, while supplying lactic acid as an effective lighting agent to brighten and fade pigmentation and photo aging in the skin.
Where does it come from? Mandelic Acid is an AHA that is derived from bitter almonds.
How does it work with the skin? Mandelic Acid is an under-rated acid that has recently gained popularity in skin-care over the past few years. It is anti-bacterial & anti-fungal, making it the perfect acid for people who are more on the oiler side combating acne, especially cystic acne. It is also a more aggressive acid for lightening pigmentation and strengthening collagen. Mandelic Acid is perfect for mature skin types as well,
Favorite Mandelic Acid Based Products
Vivant 8% Mandelic Serum, 3-in-1 serum
This serum helps to target aging, pigmentation & acne.
Where does it come from? Salicylic Acid is an AHA that comes from the bark of willow trees.
How does it work with the skin? Salicylic Acid is one of the top ingredients for minimizing breakouts and killing bacteria in the skin. Its molecule structure allows it to be more oil-soluble than other acids, making it the perfect ingredient to wiggle its way into oily pores. Being oil- soluble allows it to penetrate deeper than most other acids, giving it the ability to work in the lower layers of the skin. Similarly to Glycolic Acid, Salicylic is able to dissolve dead skin and dead keratin cells helping to regulate blackheads and minimize pores. For those who breakout, salicylic can help lower inflammation in the skin, minimizing pustules and inflammatory acne. For those of you who have dry skin or sensitive skin, you may want to use salicylic acid sparingly, as it can cause some flakiness and irritation.
Favorite Salycilic Acid Based Products
Eminence Clear Skin Targeted Acne Treatment
A convenient on the go spot treatment to help minimize breakouts. The ingredient base is simply tea-tree, salicylic to kill bacteria, and cucumber extract to cool and relieve inflammation.
Eminence Acne Advanced Clarifying Masque
The perfect treatment to prevent future breakouts or keep hormonal acne at bay. Whether you use this 2-3 times a week as a mask, or as a spot treatment before bed, the ingredient blend of Montmorillonite Clay, Kaolin Clay, Red Kaolinite along with Salicylic Acid will help drain the skin of toxins and access oil.
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