Walk into any cosmetic hall and be assured that you will be bombarded with potions and lotions promising finer, radiant, pore-free skin, a smooth-out on wrinkles and deep hydration – all due to advertised formulas of specific ingredients such as acids. An understanding of cosmetic terminology will help you make a considered choice to add to your skincare regime.
In terms of skin care, acids, (yes the acids we know to be harsh and potent), can be key ingredients to address many skin concerns, that is if used wisely and with knowledge of their individual properties. Some, it is said, can even reverse sun damage and speed up collagen production and act as ageing barriers. So, to help you, here is an introduction to a few acids you may find named on product labels……
Hyaluronic acid: This is a hydrator and actually exists naturally in the body to stimulate collagen and subsequently elasticity but, sadly, it depletes with age. There are many on the market – the newer formulas are more effective due to their smaller molecular size which can be absorbed into the skin more easily.
Salicylic Acid: This is recommended for acne sufferers as it will unclog pores and speed up the exfoliation of the skin’s epidermal cells.
Mandelic Acid: This is the choice for pigmentation and rosacea sufferers. It helps with collagen production and brightening overall complexion.
Retinoic Acid: If used regularly, this is the potion for anti-ageing and collagen re-stimulation by plumping and brightening. It works by thickening the skin’s dermis. However, in the UK, retinoic acid is available only with a prescription. Retinol is a gentler alternative that is widely available. On application to the skin, it turns to acid once it oxidises in the skin cells.
Glycolic Acid: This can shrink pore size as it is absorbed deeply into the skin. It can also brighten the skin and treat mild pigmentation but do use sparingly.
Lactic Acid: This is milder than Glycolic and hence better for more sensitive skin.
L-Ascorbic Acid: As this protects against environmental aggressors this is as an effective antioxidant and will provide some sun protection, rejuvenate collagen fibres and is good as an anti-ageing product.
If you are considering introducing acids into your regime, try a combination of an exfoliant, hyaluronic acid and a retinol and start with small amounts. If unsure, consult a dermatologist for recommendations on your skin type.
When applying these products to the skin, do take care. Ensure the skin is clean and slightly damp to hold in moisture. Don’t stop at your chin! Apply carefully to the neck and décolletage especially as the skin here is not as resilient.
A word of warning – acids can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight so be careful especially in the summer climate. Having said that, do wear sun protection every day –SPF50 even if the sun is not shining and it’s pouring with rain! And if your skin is peeling, don’t use them.
Always read the product instructions carefully.
Check out some of our recommended products here.