Acid Skincare Ingredients 101: Acid Cheat Sheet in Skincare

by Claudia Christin on Aug 19, 2020

A few years back, people tend to stay away from putting “acids” on their skin since they are often associated with the thoughts of scary flammable and burning chemicals during that chemistry class. But nowadays, they are an inseparable ingredient in almost everyone’s skincare routine. We finally figured out that at the right concentration, it can do many wonders to our skin and even become that one game-changing ingredient.  No matter if you are new or an expert in skincare, your skin is going to love “acids” ingredients and can even change your entire perspective on skincare. They may have either one or more exfoliating, anti-aging, hydrating, antioxidant properties. However, with all the different types of “acids” with their unique benefit, it can be overwhelming at times. Therefore, we are going to breakdown each of the different type and how it can benefit your skin. So you can make a wise purchase decision on acids that will suit your skin concern. 

Learn acid skincare ingredients by types & characters

 acid skincare ingredients insert image 1  
  • 1. Ascorbic acid 

 The pure form of vitamin C called the L-ascorbic acid is not only rich in antioxidant but also promote collagen production, and fades hyperpigmentation. It easily becomes one of the most favorite anti-aging ingredients. Best applied in the morning with our sunscreen to fight-off the free radicals. • Benefits: Antioxidant, brightening, anti-aging 
  • 2. Ferulic acid

 Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that helps defends our skin from environmental damage and free radicals. Ferulic acid is the number one best friend of ascorbic acid. Since ascorbic acid can be a handful to stabilize, ferulic acid can come to the rescue to help stabilizes ascorbic acid and thus support all the benefit that vitamin C can offer. • Benefits: Antioxidant 
  • 3. Azelaic acid 

 This naturally occurring acid can be found in grains like barley and wheat. It has tremendous benefits with its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. If you are struggling with rosacea or acne, this ingredient is definitely worth the shot! On top of that, it can also prevent and fade away hyperpigmentation such as melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation!  • Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, calm redness, brightening  
  • 4. Kojic acid 

 A product of fungus fermentation, such as Japanese sake, soy sauce, or rice wine. It inhibits the enzyme responsible for melanin (skin pigment) production. You can commonly see this ingredient paired with other brightening ingredients to help fade unwanted hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone.  • Benefits: Brightening  
  • 5. Hyaluronic acids

 If you have dry and dehydrated skin, and you haven’t give hyaluronic acid a try, you’re missing out! Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring component of our skin, that helps draw in and maintain water level. Hyaluronic acids can hold 1000 times its weight in water and can be found in numerous types of hydrating products.   • Benefits: Hydrating  
  • 6. Polyglutamic acids

 The new kid on the block. This new ingredient works just like hyaluronic acid by holding up water content and hydrate our skin. On top of that, their emollient properties also hug the moisture and trap them on our skin for a longer time. The difference between polyglutamic acid and hyaluronic acid is that it works more on the surface layer of the skin meanwhile hyaluronic acid with different molecular sizes work on the deeper layer. • Benefits: Hydrating   
  • 7. Alpha hydroxy acids 

 This group includes many types of ingredients, such as glycolic, lactic, mandelic, citric, and tartaric acids. All these acid groups work as an exfoliator to unglue the outermost layer of our skin. It helps to deal with dull-looking and rough texture. As your skin dead skin cells are lift-off, your next skincare product and active ingredients are going to be absorbed better.  The most commonly used acids are glycolic and lactic acid, which is considered to be the most potent and effective. Mandelic acid, on the other hand, is a sensitive-skin friendly acid due to its bigger molecule size. It can help gently remove dead skin cells to reveal soft and smooth baby skin. Other types less commonly seen AHAs are citric acid, tartaric acid, and malic acid  • Benefits: Exfoliating, anti-aging 
  • 8. Beta hydroxy acids 

 BHA or commonly known as salicylic acid is an acne-prone skin-friendly ingredient. It is oil-soluble and able to penetrate to the deeper layer into our pore lining and prevent the formation of blemishes. It helps dissolve clogged-pores, control sebum production, and also reduce inflammation. • Benefits: Exfoliating 
  • 9. Poly hydroxy acids

 Lactobinoic acid just like other exfoliating acids gently removes dead skin cells. It is commonly known as the sister-from-another mother of the AHA, but gentler. If your skin can’t tolerate AHA, you can try PHA! • Benefits: Exfoliating (great for sensitive skin) 
  • 10. Retinoic acids 

 The royals of the skincare ingredients, or also called vitamin A, that are backed up by science to fight off signs of aging and blemishes. The direct form of retinoic acid can only be prescribed by your doctor; you can get the other gentler derivatives like retinol readily on over the counter skincare product.   • Benefits: Anti-aging   
  • 11. Fatty acids 

 Fatty acids are a big part of our skin barrier that keeps our skin healthy and protected from external stressors. The topical application of fatty acids can help replenish and restore your skin barrier. Some of the fatty acids are linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, or linolenic acid. They can be commonly found in the different ratio of natural plant oil.   • Benefits: Skin-barrier repair  
  • 12. Amino acids 

 Amino acids are the building block of protein. Our skin is made up of protein and therefore can’t exist without the amino acids. They are commonly found in skincare products as a humectant that helps attract water to hydrate our skin. It makes our skin look supple, soft, and smooth.  • Benefits: Hydrating Tranexamic acid (TXA) is an ingredient that is synthetically derived by the amino acid lysine. It has been known for its benefits in hyperpigmentation. Benefits: Fades hyperpigmentation 

Which acid is best for you depending on your skin concern?

 acid skincare ingredients insert image 2   After getting to know different types of acids, it is time to decide on which one to pick based on your skin concern. Whatever your skin concern is, there are multiple options that you can choose from. Make sure to start slowly into your acid game and pick wisely! Your skin going to thank you ☺  

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