Anti-acne, Anti-Aging, Moisturizers Masks and Serums, Skincare

SKINCARE ACIDS 101: Regeneration, Moisturization and Chemical Exfoliation


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Do you incorporate acids into your skin care routine? I didn’t realize I’ve been incorporating acids since I started to take care of my skin. Which was, 20 years ago. There are acids that target all kinds of skincare concerns. They’re so many, that we can get confused. So, I decided to make an easy guide on skincare acids. You can use this information to check on your skincare product ingredients if they have the right acid for your skin type.

– Glycolic acid: derived from sugar cane
– Lactic acid: derived from milk
– Mandelic acid: derived from bitter almonds
– Tartaric acid: derived from grapes
– Malic acid: derived from apples and pears
– Citric acid: derived from citrus fruits

Acetic Acid

Commonly known as vinegar, acetic acid is generally too acidic to use straight up. Still, it has plenty of awesome beauty applications. Use it in a rinse to help your hair with hard water, dilute it for use as a toner, or even drink it to clear up your skin from within.

Azelaic Acid

This acid is typically available by prescription only, but it’s wildly effective for inflammation sufferers. It can fight rosacea and inflammation caused by acne, as well as help clear pores. If that’s not enough, it does a number on dark spots, too.

Citric Acid

This acid comes from citrus fruits and is most commonly used as a pH adjuster in skin care products. It is technically an AHA, but don’t go rubbing lemons on your face to get its exfoliation benefits. Instead, choose a product like the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads that ensures its pH and concentration is appropriate for the skin.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is maybe the most common Alpha Hydroxy Acid around. It’s good for treating flaky or dull skin and hyperpigmentation, and it has the smallest molecules of any AHA, so it can penetrate deeply. You’ll see it in products from the drugstore aisles to high-end counters. It’s a great acid to start with if aging is a concern.

Hyaluronic Acid

Not all acids exfoliate! The popular acid kid, hyaluronic acid is a hydration master. It attracts water molecules to the skin to provide light moisture, making it an excellent choice for oily and acneic skin.

Lactic Acid

Another fantastic AHA for anti-aging, lactic acid is a better pick than glycolic acid if you have sensitive skin. It’s becoming available in more and more products, which is great news if you want smooth, soft, even skin without causing redness or irritation.

Oleic/Linoleic Acid

These are two different acids, but you’ll find them together in every kind of skin-friendly oil. The balance of concentration varies from oil to oil, and for that, you can check out Dani’s awesome chart, but here’s a cheat sheet.

  • Oleic = thick, rich, healing, anti-aging.
  • Linoleic = more astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-acne.
  • Both = awesome for the skin.

Mandelic Acid

This is my favorite acid (and perhaps skin care ingredient) of all time. Mandelic acid is great for exfoliation beginners because it is gentler than glycolic or lactic acids. Unlike other AHAs, mandelic acid is oil soluble, allowing it to work within the pore as well as on the surface of the skin. If you have acne and hyperpigmentation you want to address, Mandelic acid can help with both.

Retinoic Acid

The acid to beat all acids when it comes to anti-aging. Available by prescription as the ingredient Tretinoin, retinoic acid actually thickens the dermis to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, while exfoliating the epidermis to fight dullness and acne.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is THE beta hydroxy acid of note. Unlike almost all AHAs, it can work inside the pores to loosen clogs and kill acne bacteria. Used at concentrations of 1 to 2%, it is less effective at exfoliating the skin’s surface, but a great choice for acne-prone skin.


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  • Reply MommyCharm July 17, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I was a suki of glycolic peel years back kaso nag-stop na rin ako. Lately, I’ve been looking for skincare products na may Hyaluronic acid kase sabi nga nila, ok sya for oily/ acne-prone skin like mine. Didn’t know na ganto karaming acid ang nasa mga skin care products!

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