Acid Skincare Benefits:
In chemistry, an acid is described as being a hydrogen-donor, and is characterized by having a pH level of less than 7. In aqueous solutions, acids possess a sour taste and are capable of reacting with bases and certain metals to form salts. Ultimately, the lower the pH, the higher the concentration of available hydrogen; the higher the concentration of available hydrogen, the stronger the acid.
Different forms of acids deal with different problems in skin. For example, salicylic acid peels are used for acne treatment, mandelic acid and glycolic acid peels are for targeting uneven skin tone and wrinkles, and trichloroacetic acid is for addressing photo-damaged skin. Due to the nature of their acidity, skin care products that contain acids possess strong astringent properties that help facilitate other skin benefits such as exfoliation and skin-radiance. Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) are a specific form of acid that can exfoliate the skin surface by reducing rough texture and improving the appearance of fine lines. The most common types of AHAs in skin care are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Acids such as lactic acid and hyaluronic acid may be able to sooth dry skin and are often implemented into ointments or creams. 1 2
Another use for acids in skin care is their application in chemical peels, which work to reduce the appearance of pores, manage excess surface oil, and minimize visible signs of aging. They consist of an acid in combination with various antioxidants. For skin-brightening effects, chemical peels can help clean the top layer of skin, thus promoting cell turnover. For safety measures, consult your dermatologist before implementing acids into your skin care regimen. 2
- Boelsma, E. et al. Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids. The American journal of clinical nutrition 73.5, 853-864 (2001)
- Desai, S. The Appeal of Chemical Peels: Considerations for Skin of Color. American Academy of Dermatology Feb (2016)