Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids, more commonly known as AHAs and BHAs, are some of the most important ingredients in skin care products, yet most buyers don’t know exactly what they each do and why they’re important.
Understanding acids in skin care is the only way to make the right choice, whether you’re buying an overnight moisturizer or selecting a facial at a spa. From the basic things you know about all acids that can help your skin to more details about the most effective ones, here’s what you need to know.
Choose Combinations of Acids at Lower Concentrations
When you’re using skin care with AHAs or BHAs, you’re not supposed to experience any extreme side-effects. If you’re experiencing persistent redness or flaking, you’re simply using a product with an acid concentration that’s too high for your skin. You can skin get a glowing finish by using skin care that mixes more types of acids with lower concentrations, or you can mix products yourself.
AHAs and BHAs Can Work Wonders for Sensitive Skin
If your skin gets easily irritated, you might be avoiding retinoids and acids in skin care products. However, only retinoids contribute to inflammation. You might experience some irritation after a product with acids, but it usually goes away once your skin gets used to it. Don’t start using them daily until a few weeks from your first try, and opt for formulas that contain an amino-acid mixed with an AHA or BHA.
Find the Right pH for Your Skin
Unfortunately, most skin care products that include acids in their formula offer no information on the pH. The easiest way to determine whether it’s the right one is to notice your reaction when you apply the product. A tingling sensation that last only for a few seconds is what you should be experiencing to know the product is working. If you don’t feel anything or if you experience redness, then the pH is either too low or too high.
You Can’t Treat Deep Wrinkles with Acids
There are no good acids in skin care products that can reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles, and if the product description promises that, you should avoid it. Acids can help even out your skin tone and minimize the appearance of fine lines, but they won’t work on deep wrinkles.
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You Can Use Them All Over Your Body
Your face may get the most obvious effects from AHAs and BHAs, but they can also help you on other areas. Clogged pores and bumps, especially those caused by ingrown hairs, can be fixed with a lotion with acids. Salicylic acid, particularly in a body wash, is a great way to get rid of back acne.
When you’re considering acids in skin care, glycolic acid should be your top priority. It’s the most effective AHA, since it penetrates deeper than the rest. You can use it to treat uneven skin texture and tone, get rid of flakiness, and to get rid of fine lines, since it helps regenerate collagen.
While you can only get glycolic acid in cosmetics, lactic acid can also work on your skin with a homemade mask that includes milk or yogurt. However, at the right concentration and pH in skin care products, it’s perfect for sensitive skin.
Unlike most acids in skin care, retinoic acid is prescription-only, but it’s worth a trip to your dermatologist for the excellent anti-aging effect. If you don’t want to get fillers or laser procedures, but still minimize the appearance of your wrinkles, this is a top choice.
Oleic and Linoleic Acid
Usually found in oils for your skin, these are two acids in skin care that work best when they’re combined. Oleic acid has anti-aging effects and helps heal and refresh your skin, while linoleic acid is a good option for acne, and it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
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One of the most gentle acids in skin care products, mandelic acid is excellent for exfoliation, and it can help clean out your pores while also improving skin texture.
You may know it as a filler, but hyaluronic acid is also a great moisturizer. Unlike most AHAs and BHAs, it does not have a powerful exfoliant effect.