Acids for your skin? The thought sounds quite terrifying, and you’re probably imagining harsh products that will leave your skin looking red and sore. But relax, these potent ingredients can actually work wonders for your skin, it’s just about finding the right one for you. Not all acids are equal so it’s important you learn the difference between and use the right one for your skin type and concerns.

  1. Salicylic Acid
    Also known as beta-hydroxy acids, salicylic acid exfoliates the skin and can improve tone and texture. It is a keratolytic agent, which means it removes the top layer of skin when the pores are clogged. It is a great ingredient for oily skin as it has proven effective with acne, but those with dry or sensitive skin can also use it as long as it is combined with hydrating products. Many products contain salicylic acid and studies have shown that it may be less irritating than products with alpha hydroxyl acids. Those who are allergic to salycylates (found in aspirin) should not use products containing salicylic acid as is can be absorbed into the bloodstream and may cause an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. Pregnant or nursing women should also avoid salicylic acid products.

  2. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
    These include lactic, glycolic, tartaric, malic and citric acids. They have been increasingly popular over the last few years and have multiple benefits for the skin. AHAs are primarily used as chemical exfoliants, but they have also been shown to promote collagen production and reduce hyperpigmentation. Side effects can include sun sensitivity, so it’s important to wear sunscreen every day. It can also cause mild irritation, so start with a product that contains low levels and gradually work up to a daily application.

  3. Hyaluronic Acids
    An excellent ingredient for dry skin, hyaluronic acid captures and retains moisture within the dermis. It can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water and has the ability to pull in moisture from the air. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin and is part of the body’s connective tissues, and is known to cushion and lubricate. Levels decrease as we age and skin becomes drier, so look for moisturisers which contain this ultra-hydrating molecule.