Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you will have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of acid-based skincare products hitting the shelves. While scrubs might have been the tried and tested method of sloughing away dead skin a few years back, now it is all about the liquid exfoliator. So much so, Pinterest has seen a 58% increase in searches for liquid exfoliators.
Yet, there is still a stigma attached to using skin acids, especially in high doses. Your skin has a carefully balanced pH level, which keeps the barrier healthy and strong, locking in water and nutrients. Overusing abrasive acids can disturb this balance and excessive use over time can damage the barrier. What happens then? Well, you’re more likely to have a skin flare-up of acne, eczema or rosacea, and it could also cause premature ageing.
That said, using acids as part of your skincare routine has a lot of benefits. From unclogging your pores and smoothing out your skin’s texture to reducing the appearance of pigmentation and boosting your collagen production. It just requires some research to find the right liquid exfoliator for your skin…
For stubborn blackheads: Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and it is oil soluble, which means it can help loosen any built up of dirt and oil in your pores. It is by far one of the best ways to reduce your blackheads at home. You can use a salicylic acid serum all over or just on the problem areas.
For plumper, smoother skin: Glycolic Acid
Together with lactic acid, glycolic is one of the most well known alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Not only does it help to get rid of dead skin cells on the surface and smooth out uneven textures, but it also works on a deeper level to have recharge your natural collagen production. The result? Smoother, brighter, firmer skin following regular use.
For sensitive skin: PHA Acid
If you have super sensitive skin or are wary of acids in general, polyhydroxy acids are the perfect place to start. Similar to AHAs in terms of what they do, PHAs are much gentler. You might not have heard too much about them up until recently because they were under patented technology. Now that patent has lifted, it’s likely you will see them popping up everywhere as the benefits easily outweigh any potential drawbacks with this acid. Read Shabir’s paper on polyhydroxy acids to learn more about their skin benefits.
For acne-scarring: Azelaic Acid
For some people tackling the breakout is only the first step as they are then left with visible scarring. While azelaic acid won’t make the scars disappear overnight, with regular use it can help ease their appearance. Azelaic acid helps to increase your cell turnover and gets rid of dead skin cells to make space for the new ones, which helps to reduce the appearance of pigmentation and acne scarring. Depending on your skin type you can use an azelaic acid serum twice a day, but you will need to wear SPF during the day.
For those who can’t live without a scrub…
For some, there is nothing quite like physically scrubbing away dirt, grime and dead skin, but it is important to find the right one. Poorly formulated face scrubs or aggressive overuse can cause tiny micro-tears in your skin. It’s worth taking the time to find a scrub that uses smooth, rounded beads, which reduce the chances of micro-tears and offer a gentler exfoliation. Try Derma E’s range of scrubs or Nannette de Gaspe’s Essence Noir Polish.