Meet The 5 Skincare Acids That Might Just Transform Your Skin
Consistently recommended by dermatologists, skincare acids can exfoliate, brighten, hydrate and even control pesky breakouts. Here, we take a look at five of the absolute best…
Who knew acids could be so awesome for your skin? Actually we did, which is why we formulated some of the most clinically researched and pretty dang effective skincare acids into your favorite TruSkin products.
So, no matter your skin type, age or concerns, it’s time to climb aboard the acid train. Not sure where to start? Then take a peek at these five absolute gems which promise to work hard to keep your skin looking (and feeling) totally awesome.
1. Citric Acid
Often overshadowed by the glycolics and lactics of this world (more on those in a jiffy), citric acid is a fully paid member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) club. AHAs are chemical exfoliators that work by dissolving the ‘glue’ that binds dead skin cells together on the surface of your skin so they can shed more easily. This helps renew and revitalize your skin, improving the texture and tone of your skin and simultaneously softening the signs of aging.
Extracted from, yes you guessed it, citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges, citric acid has a fairly large molecular structure which makes it way less potent than its AHA cousins. For sure, this makes it less immediately effective, but on the bright side it makes it a great choice for sensitive or problematic skin types looking to improve cell turnover without causing irritation.
Citric acid is also a natural, but gentle astringent which means it’s awesome at balancing excess oils, plus it contains antioxidant properties to help protect your skin from external baddies like pollution and sun damage.
A Great Choice For: Acid virgins, sensitive or oily skin types.
Find It In: Charcoal Clarifying Cleanser.
2. Glycolic Acid
One of the most effective AHAs available in skincare, glycolic acid has the same exfoliating prowess as citric acid – to the power of ten. This is all down to its small molecular structure which allows it to penetrate your skin way quicker and deeper than other AHAs. Its mini-me molecules also work to stimulate collagen production which is always a winner for firmer, younger-looking skin.
Glycolic acid is extracted from sugar cane or fruit and is often used in professional chemical peels due to its exfoliating super powers. Derms highly recommend it for helping to reduce the visible signs of aging like lines, wrinkles, dullness and dark spots, but it also makes a mean anti-acne treatment by helping to keep those pores of yours clean and clear.
A Great Choice For: Anyone looking to improve tone and texture. It’s a potent acid, however, so start low and slow and always patch test any glycolic acid formulation before using it for the first time.
3. Hyaluronic Acid
You’ll be no stranger to hyaluronic acid (HA) and its benefits to your skin – after all, it's completely stolen the limelight in recent years. And rightly so.
HA is a naturally-occurring humectant that’s found in abundance in your body where it helps keep your eyes and joints lubricated, and your skin hydrated. Humectants are clever little cookies because they work like sponges to attract and retain water from their surroundings. HA has the capacity to soak up around 1,000 times its weight in water. Not good at visualizing such math? Then let’s just say that’s a LOT. In fact, topical HA is hands down one of the best ingredients for boosting hydration in your skin. With age, however, your natural levels of HA decline (of course it does *eyeroll), which is one of the reasons your skin becomes dehydrated and less plump as time rolls by. And why topical HA is so important for younger-looking skin.
A Great Choice For: Dry, dehydrated skin types, or, in fact, any of you looking to up your skin’s moisture levels. So, that’ll be all of you, right?
4. Lactic Acid
Back to AHAs and one of the most widely-used acids in skincare, lactic acid. When formulated in skincare, lactic acid is extracted from sour milk. Now, if that sounds a tad weird, think about Cleopatra and her propensity to bathe in milk. If it was good enough for her…
As a chemical exfoliant, lactic acid is another one of the gentle guys. In terms of its molecular structure, it’s smaller than glycolic acid but bigger than citric acid which makes it a great all-rounder for most skin types, offering light peeling and brightening benefits without too much disruption to your skin’s delicate barrier.
As well as its exfoliating effects, lactic acid is known to have anti-bacterial benefits (see-ya, annoying breakouts). It’s also a humectant, so, like hyaluronic acid, helps your skin retain moisture.
A Great Choice For: Dull skin that needs a little pick-me-up. It also works well for brightening dark circles around your eyes.
Find It In: Hyaluronic Acid Eye Cream.
5. Salicylic Acid
Unlike most exfoliating acids, salicylic acid is a beta rather than an alpha hydroxy acid. What’s the difference between AHAs and BHAs? Well, they kind of do the same thing, boosting cell turnover and collagen production, but BHAs are oil-soluble whereas AHAs are water-soluble. This means BHAs like salicylic acid can penetrate deeper through the lipid layers of your skin and into your sebaceous glands where they help loosen sebum and unblock your pores.
Salicylic acid is derived from willow tree bark and not only exfoliates and unblocks your pores, but has anti-bacterial properties so is ideal for reducing redness and inflammation. It also helps heal as well as prevent breakouts. You’ve got to love it for that.
A Great Choice For: Zapping pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and excess oils. Just remember to go steady with it – overusing salicylic acid can irritate and dry out your skin.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.