Face acids, also known as chemical exfoliants, have become increasingly popular in recent years for their ability to improve the texture and appearance of the skin. These acids dissolve dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote skin cell turnover. There are two types of face acids: alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs, such as glycolic and lactic acid, are water-soluble and work on the skin’s surface. In contrast, BHAs, such as salicylic acid, are oil-soluble and penetrate deeper into the pores. Face acids can help with various skin concerns, including acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. However, using them correctly and starting with a low concentration is important to avoid irritation and sensitivity.
Types Of Face Acids
There are two main types of face acids: Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs).
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
These are water-soluble acids derived from fruits, milk, and sugar. The most commonly used AHAs in skincare products are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. AHAs work by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, which helps to exfoliate and promote cell turnover. They also have humectant properties, which means they can help the skin retain moisture. This makes them a good choice for those with dry or sensitive skin. AHAs effectively reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and tone, and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)
These are oil-soluble acids that can penetrate deeper into the pores than AHAs. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA in skincare products, which is derived from willow bark. BHAs work by exfoliating the inside of the pores and breaking down sebum, which can help prevent acne and reduce the appearance of black and whiteheads. BHAs are also anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce redness and irritation in the skin. BHAs are a good choice for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
Both AHAs and BHAs can be found in various skincare products, including cleansers, toners, serums, and masks. When using face acids, starting with a low concentration is important, and gradually increasing the strength as your skin becomes accustomed to it. It’s also important to use sunscreen daily, as AHAs and BHAs can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Which Face Acid Is For Which Skin Type?
Choosing the right acid for your skin type is important to ensure that you benefit most from the product and avoid any potential irritation or sensitivity. Here are some general guidelines for which acid is best for each skin type:
Dry or Sensitive Skin:
AHAs are generally a better choice for those with dry or sensitive skin. Glycolic and lactic acid are gentle options that can help exfoliate and improve skin texture without causing irritation.
Oily or Acne-Prone Skin:
BHAs are typically better for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is a popular choice for its ability to penetrate deeply into the pores and dissolve excess sebum, which can help to prevent breakouts.
Combination skin can benefit from a combination of AHAs and BHAs. This can help exfoliate and improve texture while reducing excess oil and preventing breakouts.
Those with normal skin can generally use either AHAs or BHAs, depending on their skin concerns. Both types of acids can help to improve skin texture and reduce signs of aging.
It’s important to note that everyone’s skin is different, so it’s always a good idea to patch-test a new product before using it all over your face. Additionally, it’s important to start with a low concentration of acid and gradually work your way up as your skin adjusts to the product. Always follow the instructions on the product label and talk to a dermatologist if you have any concerns.
Best Time To Apply Face Acids
The best time to apply face acids is typically in the evening, after cleansing your face. This allows the acid to work overnight without interfering with other skincare products or makeup. It’s important to use face acids on clean, dry skin and to avoid applying other products immediately after to allow the acid to absorb fully into the skin.
Additionally, it’s important to note that some face acids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. For this reason, it’s best to avoid using face acids in the morning before heading outside or to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 during the day.
It’s also important to start slowly when incorporating face acids into your skincare routine. Begin with a low concentration and gradually increase as your skin becomes accustomed to the product. Always follow the instructions on the product label and talk to a dermatologist if you have any concerns.
Face Acids That Should Not Be Used Together
While combining different face acids can offer added benefits to the skin, avoiding using certain acids together is important to prevent irritation and sensitivity. Here are some face acids that should not be used together:
Retinol and AHAs/BHAs:
Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient that can increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production. However, when used with AHAs or BHAs, it can cause irritation and sensitivity. It’s best to use retinol products separately from AHAs/BHAs and to alternate their use every other night.
Vitamin C and AHAs/BHAs:
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation. However, when used with AHAs or BHAs, it can lower the skin’s pH and irritate it. It’s best to use vitamin C products in the morning and AHAs/BHAs in the evening to avoid any potential interactions.
Different types of AHAs/BHAs:
While using different types of AHAs or BHAs together is generally safe, it’s important to be cautious when combining them, especially if you have sensitive skin. Using too many acids at once can lead to over-exfoliation and irritation. It’s best to start with a low concentration and gradually increase it as your skin adjusts to the product.
It’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or skincare professional if you’re unsure how to combine different face acids. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your skin type and concerns.
Drawbacks of Using Many Face Acids Together
While using face acids can provide numerous benefits for the skin, using too many acids together can lead to drawbacks and potential side effects. Here are some possible drawbacks of using many face acids together:
Using too many face acids can cause over-exfoliation, damaging the skin’s natural barrier and leading to irritation, sensitivity, and dryness. This can also make the skin more susceptible to environmental damage and infection.
Certain face acids can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, leading to sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and other forms of damage. Too many acids can increase this sensitivity and make it more difficult to protect the skin.
Certain face acids can interact with each other and cause irritation or other side effects. For example, combining retinol with AHAs or BHAs can lead to sensitivity, while combining vitamin C with AHAs or BHAs can lower the skin’s pH and cause irritation.
Using too many different face acids can lead to conflicting results, as each acid works differently and may have different effects on the skin. This can make achieving your desired skin care goals more difficult and lead to frustration.
To avoid these potential drawbacks, it’s important to use face acids in moderation and follow the product label’s instructions. It’s also important to start slowly and gradually increase the concentration of the acid as your skin becomes accustomed to it. If you have any concerns or experience any side effects, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional.
Using face acids can be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine when used properly. They can help to exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, reduce hyperpigmentation, and improve the overall texture and appearance of the skin. However, it’s important to be cautious when using face acids, as overuse or misuse can lead to irritation, sensitivity, and other potential side effects. It’s best to start slowly, use one acid at a time, and gradually increase the concentration as your skin becomes accustomed to the product. Additionally, it’s important to use face acids in combination with a well-rounded skincare routine that includes a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen to protect the skin from environmental damage. Consulting with a dermatologist or skincare professional can also provide personalized recommendations for your skin type and concerns.