Facial Acids and Their Burning Popularity

Jun. 28, 2020
Read About How These Acids Are Changing the Face of Skin Care
Salicylic Acid
The FDA recognizes the medicinal benefits of salicylic acid in the treatment of acne, in specific concentrations. New York City certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King explains that salicylic acid is able to deeply penetrate the pores and clear them of clogging by excessive sebum production. Salicylic acid is also antimicrobial, eradicating acne-causing bacteria before they are able to turn clogged pores into acne. That's two ways in which it helps fight and eliminate acne from the skin.
Glycolic Acid
Plenty of exfoliators will contain glycolic acid because of its ability to dislodge dead skin cells without the need for mechanical force. Spring Street Dermatology NYC dermatologist Dr. Sapna Palep explains that “it stops acne almost immediately” thanks to its strong exfoliating properties, which help to unclog pores and remove black and whiteheads. Its exfoliating properties increase cell turnover, quickly removing old dead skin and allowing younger, stronger, brighter cells to surface. Younger skin is plumper and less prone to wrinkling.
Azelaic Acid
According to The Skincare Bible author Dr. Anjali Mahto, azelaic acid’s anti-inflammatory effects soothe acne troubled skin, reducing redness and swelling. It even prevents the clogging of pores by reducing the production of keratin, which can accumulate and cause blockage in said pores.
Ascorbic Acid
Also, more commonly known as Vitamin C, this acid is classified as a very potent antioxidant, according to Dr. Patricia Wexler, the board-certified dermatologist. Its antioxidant effects neutralize free radicals in the skin before they can damage the cells and weaken the tissue to cause fine lines and wrinkles. By extension, this allows for faster repair of worn-out cells, allowing your skin to retain its smooth texture. 
Retinoic Acid
You will most likely only ever come across this acid in prescription medication because it is incredibly potent and can be a bit harsh on the skin. It prevents the breakdown of collagen while promoting faster cell turnover so that your skin remains smooth with that youthful elasticity. Of course, it must be prescribed by a dermatologist first before you can get it.
Lactic Acid
This acid has been found to brighten the skin by inhibiting the production of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is needed in the production of melanin, the skin darkening pigment. As a gentler alternative to glycolic acid, its gentle exfoliating properties allow for this acid to create a mild chemical peeling effect that can even out the skin tone really well.  
Hyaluronic Acid
If you ever see “Hyaluronic acid” in an ingredient list, know that the product you hold was designed to have a strong moisturizing effect for your skin. Research has found a molecule of hyaluronic acid able to hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, and for the skin, this means plenty of hydration! Allies of Skin brand creator Nicolas Travis explains that the acid is able to pull moisture from the depths of the skin when it is dry, concentrating it on the skin surface so that it feels supple and soft.
A Few Things to Note about Facial Acids
  • Consult a dermatologist if you are unsure or have a history of skin conditions. The acid may have an irritating effect if your skin is sensitive, and a dermatologist may recommend a milder alternative or counsel you against it altogether.
  • A natural plant alternative may not always work. You probably hear about lemon/orange or pineapple acid peels all the time, but they may not always be adequate. Just because it is acidic doesn’t mean it will be effective at your specific skin concern, because it may be less concentrated than its extracted counterpart, and may not necessarily work.
  • Facial acids can leave the skin feeling a bit sensitive to the sun, so always invest in sun protection whenever you use them.
  • Pick an acid that is specific to your skincare concern. Now that you know a little about what common acids can do, base your choices on what your underlying skin issue is.
There are plenty more face acids that we haven't touched on (hopefully in another article), but with these few common ones, we hope to have shed some light to help you along on your acid skincare discovery journey.
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