Want To Use Acids Without Burning Your Face? Read This
Hyaluronic acid. Glycolic acid. Salicylic acid. L-ascorbic acid. Poly hydroxy acid. Sometimes, choosing skincare products can make you feel like you’re back in chemistry class—you’re not entirely sure what each acid in your skincare does and you’re scared it might burn your face. Which is why we’re here to tell you exactly how each one of these ingredients can work for your skin and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine without burning your face.
More from CLEO:
Everything You Knew About Your Skin Is Completely Wrong
There’s An Alternative To Retinol. And OMG, It’s Natural
Get Your Best Skin With This Skincare Packed With Superfoods
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Pros: This naturally-occurring substance draws in water from the environment to keep skin hydrated and plump. It can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, which makes it super hydrating. It’s also got antioxidant benefits—which means it keeps skin healthy in the face of UV damage and pollution.
Cons: When using it in dry climates or environments (like an airplane), you need to layer with other hydrating products because when used in those conditions, the HA molecules draw moisture from your skin instead of the environment—which makes it more dehydrated.
How to add it to your skincare routine: Add serums and moisturisers like the Sephora Collection All Day Hydrator, $23 that packed with this ingredient to your skincare routine. If you’re using vitamin C, retinol or alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, look for those with HA as a supporting ingredient.
Pros: This Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is known for its ability to work with sebum and sink into pores to dislodge any dead skin, sebum and impurities that have settled there. It exfoliates the upper layer of skin, keeps it smooth and evens out skin tone. And while it is especially suitable for oily skin, it can also be used on dry skin that is prone to congestion, but is best when combined with calming, soothing and hydrating ingredients.
Cons: It can sometimes dry out your skin.
How to add it to your skincare routine: Depending on how bad your breakouts are, you can introduce salicylic acid into your skincare routine with a cleanser like the Aesop In Two Minds Facial Cleanser, $43 which, when left on for 30 seconds, will draw out all the gunk. For extremely acneic skin, look for serums or oils with low concentration of salicylic acid that will gently, but effectively clean out pores.
Pros: Part of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) family, glycolic acid clears away dead skin that is sitting on the surface to reveal clearer, brighter skin. It simultaneously regulates skin cell turnover and helps with collagen production, making your skin look plumper and more youthful, with fewer lines on the surface.
Cons: It can make your skin sensitive to the sun, so always wear sunscreen when using glycolic acid.
How to add it to your skincare routine: The easiest way to get the benefits from glycolic acid is to use peel pads, or a toner like the Pixi Glow Tonic, $22. Once your skin is used to the ingredient, you can incorporate it as a serum.
Pros: Also a part of the AHA family, this is ideal for people with sensitive skin that cannot tolerate glycolic acid. Like glycolic acid, it sloughs off dead skin, evens out skin tone and stimulates collagen production so skin looks great.
Cons: Like glycolic acid, it can make your skin sun-sensitive, and in rare cases, cause skin irritation.
How to add it to your skincare routine: Look for a lactic acid peel or use it incorporated in a serum like the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $148.
Pros: Like other AHAs, mandelic acid works effectively as an exfoliator to tackle dullness. It also supports collagen production. But it is particularly loved for its ability to deal with melasma (a type of pigmentation that looks like grey-brown patches), regulate sebum production and tackle breakouts.
Cons: Like glycolic acid, it can make your skin sensitive to the sun.
How to use it in your skincare routine: Use serums like the Allies of Skin Mandelic Acid Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum, $138 or masks that contain the ingredient, but before you start using it, do a patch test. To start off, you might want to start using it once a week before upping the frequency.
Pros: This is the most commonly used (and widely researched) form of vitamin C. Use it if you want to tackle dark spots and dullness, combat free radical damage and increase collagen. Basically every day.
Cons: Higher concentrations of L-Ascorbic acid can be irritating for sensitive skin types.
How to incorporate it into your skincare routine: Opt for serums, which are more potent than moisturisers. Since the ingredient is reactive to air, look for a serum that has airtight and opaque packaging as in the case of the Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System With Pure Vitamin C 10%, $39.