Everything You Need To Know About Facial Acids – Including Which Ones You Need!

October 13, 2020


The winter months are notoriously harsh on our skin. The combination of icy winds and indoor heating can cause dryness and redness, especially on sensitive skin, while for some of us, a seasonal change in diet (hello, hot chocolate and pasta!) can bring on dullness and blemishes. 

With warmer weather now approaching, now is the time to pay a little extra attention to your skin and help restore a fresh, radiant glow. Introducing acids to your skincare routine is one of the most effective ways to do just that. 

Consider facial acids the foundation of a good skincare routine. The right acids are integral in maintaining a fresh, youthful appearance, while also helping you take your already-glowing skin to the next level. 

There’s something for everyone, but if you’re not sure where to begin – or which acid is right for you – let us take you through the five most popular facial acids for common skin concerns. 

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is one of the most popular AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) out there – and because it targets a multitude of different skin concerns, you’ll find it in virtually everything. Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular construction of all the AHAs, meaning it’s absorbed into the skin easily and effectively. A gentle yet effective exfoliator, glycolic acid works to breakdown dead skin cells, clearing the surface of the skin and allowing for better absorption of other products, like toners, serums or moisturisers.

Because exfoliation is critical for clearing the complexion and speeding up cell turnover, glycolic acid is a great product for acne-prone skin (perfect for shortening the lifespan of whiteheads or cysts + fading acne scars) or those looking for an anti-ageing acid (great for preventing fine lines and wrinkles). 

Try: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, RRP $14.50. Available at http://www.theordinary.com 

Lactic acid 

Lactic acid is another hugely popular AHA, best known for its ability to exfoliate and moisturise at the same time (win!). The perfect two-in-one for dry, lacklustre skin, lactic acid works to remove dead skin and increase cell turnover, boosting the skin’s natural moisture factor and stimulating collagen renewal for a firmer, more supple feel.

Thanks to its exfoliating + hydrating combo, lactic acid is a godsend for dryness and textural irregularities (think bumpy, rough skin caused by Keratosis Pilaris, a.k.a chicken skin) as it works to not only buff away the skin’s lumps and bumps, but also drench skin in the moisture it needs to heal and renew its texture. 

Try: LANATÉ Cream, RRP $29.90. Available at Chemist Warehouse stores or www.chemistwarehouse.com.au 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is perhaps one of the best-known facial acids, and its claim to fame comes from oil-balancing superpowers. Unlike lactic and glycolic acids, salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid, not an Alpha Hydroxy Acid. This means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, rather than one, but what you really need to know is that it’s this structural difference that makes salicylic acid so good at clearing oily skin. 

BHAs like salicylic acid are oil-soluble, which means they can effectively cut through the skin’s natural oils to penetrate into pores and unclog them. This is what makes salicylic acid such a game-changer for acne-prone skin – it breaks down grimy, whitehead-causing oils to flush out pores, while acting as an anti-inflammatory for existing pimples and blackheads. The result is balanced, clear, fresh-feeling skin.

Try: Clear Skincare 2% Salicylic Toner, RRP $29.00. Available at Priceline stores or www.priceline.com.au

Ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid, otherwise known as Vitamin C, is the key ingredient for healthy, radiant, glowing skin – and you don’t need to gorge yourself on oranges to see the benefits. Commonly found in serums and, in smaller amounts, moisturisers, ascorbic acid gives skin a hearty dose of antioxidants to fight free radicals (read: toxic by-products of oxygenation) while also boosting collagen production, for firmer, smoother, more plump skin.

A fast-acting acid, ascorbic acid is a welcomed saviour for dulllacklustre, and uneven toned skin that just needs a little bit of a pick-me-up. Plus, thanks to its collagen-boosting abilities, it’s also loved for its anti-ageing qualities – leaving skin looking youthful, radiant and healthy.

Try: The Ordinary 100% L-Absorbic Acid Powder, RRP $9.80. Available at www.theordinary.com

Ferulic acid

Ferulic acid is perhaps the lesser-known of all the acids, but don’t let that fool you – this stuff deserves a spot on your bathroom shelf. A plant-based antioxidant that’s typically found in oats, rice and citrus, ferulic acid works to boost the effects of other antioxidants to give you the most out of your skincare products. A bit of an all-rounder, ferulic acid works to protect overall skin wellbeing by reducing the development of fine lines and discolouration (due to ageing, scarring or just troublesome skin), and works particularly well with Vitamin C.

While it complements virtually all skincare regimes, ferulic acid is most beneficial for those seeking anti-ageing properties or, when used in conjunction with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), those looking to combat dull, uneven toned skin.

Try: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster, RRP $62.00. Available at http://www.paulaschoice.com.au/

So, if your skin is looking a little dull, congested, dry, or just in need of some extra TLC, try incorporating one of these popular acids into your skincare routine. Your skin will thank you, and you’ll find yourself summer-ready (and not to mention selfie-ready!) in no time. 

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