It seems like with each new product released, there’s a hot new skin care ingredient just waiting to be turned into the latest craze, but when it comes to the tried and true and not the “trends,” acids always prevail. If you’re unfamiliar with the use of various acids as skin treatments, then the thought alone of putting acid on your face can be nothing short of terrifying—it sounds abrasive, irritating, and potentially scarring. These incredibly useful acids, on the other hand, are nothing of the sort. They have a wide variety of skin care benefits that go beyond simple moisturizing or blemish-fighting properties and can make a huge difference overall. Whatever your skin concern, there’s a highly effective acid out there to get you one step closer to perfect skin.
Perhaps the best known acid in skin care is salicylic, which is one of the most common ingredients used in over-the-counter spot treatments and acne preventative care. Also known as beta-hydroxy acid, or BHA, salicylic acid gently exfoliates the upper layers of the skin to diffuse dead skin cells and penetrates pores to break up the oil and congestion responsible for blemishes. It’s one of the least irritating acids—in fact, it has a significant soothing, anti-inflammatory effects—and results in less sun sensitivity than its alpha-hydroxy counterparts. Regular use eliminates current breakouts and reduces the likelihood of future breakouts, too.
Glycolic, lactic and citric acids are all members of the alpha-hydroxy family. They target many signs of aging, from fine lines and dark spots to adult acne and enlarged pores, and help to visually smooth and firm the texture of the skin. Vitamin C is also a useful ingredient for anti-aging, but only in the form of pure L-ascorbic acid, rather than its derivatives. Like AHAs, vitamin C helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines, scars, wrinkles and gently brightens the skin to help repair symptoms of sun damage, like dark spots and fine lines. It also plays a huge role in your skin’s production of collagen, which breaks down and causes wrinkles as you age.
Hyaluronic acid exists naturally in the human body to cushion and lubricate joints and tissue and is found in abundance in young, supple skin. Aging, along with other variables like diet and smoking, reduces the body’s natural supply of the substance, which leads to dryness and loss of elasticity, which in turn results in wrinkling and signs of aging. Hyaluronic acid, a natural humectant, can be applied topically in serums and creams for maximized hydration, or injected as in the case of Restylane. Every skin type can benefit from the addition of a hyaluronic acid product: It increases the skin’s ability to absorb, which will make your other treatments exponentially more effective.