Skin Care

Your Guide To Facial Acids

Incorporating an exfoliating facial acid into your anti-aging skin care routine can be beneficial, but not all acids are created equal, so I thought it would be helpful to create a simplified guide on the different facials acids as well as a breakdown of each individual acid, so you can decide which facial acid will be best for your skin type:

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – These are the most commonly used acids and include Glycolic, Citric, Mandelic, Malic, Tartaric and Lactic. They exfoliate the skin, stimulate collagen and GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) formation. They normalize the stratum corneum (the outer-most layer of the epidermis) and can regulate keratinization. Best for signs of aging.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs) – There is only one beta hydroxy acid – salicylic – derived from acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. Like AHAs, beta hydroxy acid (BHA) also acts as an exfoliant increasing the shedding of dead skin cells. BHA is extremely useful for treating breakouts and helps manage keratosis pilaris and other conditions that involve blocked or clogged pores.

 Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) – The next generation of AHAs, these allow for slower and gradual penetration. The absorption is non-irritating and doesn’t sting. PHAs support the matrix around collagen, help restore skin barrier function and protect against collagen degradation. PHAs are probably the most multi-tasking of all acids. Gluconolactone, lactobionic and maltobionic are examples of PHAs. Best for signs of aging and sensitive or dehydrated skins.

So, what’s the main difference between these acids? AHAs are water soluble so they do not penetrate deeply beneath the skin’s surface. BHA is oil (lipid) soluble. This allows the BHA to penetrate oily pores and help to exfoliate the pore itself. This is why salicylic is particularly helpful when used on oily and acne prone skins. PHAs tend to be better for sensitive skins due to their larger molecular size and slower penetration. PHAs are great humectants on the skin, making them particularly good choices for dehydrated skins. Below is a description of each individual acid:

Glycolic – Containing the smallest molecule in AHAs, glycolic is derived from sugarcane and is the most effective AHA due to its ability to penetrate deeply and stimulate fibroblast cells to aid in collagen production. It exfoliates the skin by increasing cell turnover, evens skin tone and builds the support structure in the dermal matrix reducing wrinkles. It is the only acid that makes you sun sensitive.

Lactic – Historically derived from milk, more recently synthetically formed to maintain stability, lactic works to dissolve the glue in between cells on the surface making it good for gently exfoliating. Keeps the skin soft, acts like Pac Man on the surface of the skin, gently eating it away.

Mandelic – Fat soluble and derived from almonds, this is a good choice for oilier skins, as the molecules can penetrate even the greasiest of skins. Mandelic is antibacterial and can reduce oiliness with regular usage without harshly drying the skin out.

Citric – Reverses signs of photo damage while also improving the quality of the dermal matrix, can sometimes only be used at preservative level just so brands can claim it on the label. Look for specific mentions of citric in the descriptions on packaging, if they’re not there, it’s probably a preservative only.

Tartaric and Malic – Mainly derived from grapes, apples, pears and cherries. These two are gentler on the AHA scale but do act as antioxidants and aid skin respiration.

Salicylic – Derived from willow bark, salicylic acid is oil soluble and penetrates and breaks down the ‘glue’ that causes breakouts and oily, uneven skins. It loosens desmosomes allowing the cell to let go of the excess sebum that oily skins like to hold on to. Think of desmosomes as handcuffs, attaching your cells together. Salicylic unlocks the handcuffs.

Gluconolactone -A largely antioxidant PHA, gluconolactone is the multi-tasker of all acids. It is made of multiple humectant hydroxyls, which hydrate the skin. It also attacks free radicals, protecting the skin from UV damage and strengthens barrier function, allowing the skin to reduce redness with regular use. Gluconolactone inhibits elastase, the cause of skin sagging, and helps maintain elasticity.

Lactobionic -Derived from milk sugars, lactobionic acids are massive antioxidants and help prevent and reverse signs of aging including lines, pigmentation, large pores and uneven texture. They promote skin firmness and stop the degradation of collagen. A natural humectant, they bind water to the skin, making them perfect for dehydrated skins.

Maltobionic – The most humectant of acids, it gives antioxidant protection, protects from hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure and aids collagen degradation. Maltobionic acid can improve skin texture, firmness, clarity, tone and reduce wrinkles.

I hope this helps give you the information you need when it comes to choosing facial acid products to add into your anti-aging skincare routine and until next time, stay happy, healthy and beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.