Some of us are hesitant about acids, remembering them mainly from our school chemistry lessons. But the truth is, they aren’t scary if you know how to use them!
In fact, acids are the key to an effective routine once past your 30s and 40s. As we get older skin becomes drier, thinner and duller due to factors like reduced collagen production and slower cell turnover. Acids can nudge it in the right direction again.
From purifiers to pigmentation-fighters, there’s an acid for every concern out there. LBB spoke to renowned aesthetician Dija Ayodele in October, who recommended the best ingredients to add to your cabinets.
Based on that chat, we’ve broken down five of the key acids you need to know about, including how and when to use them.
SALICYLIC ACID – THE PURIFIER
Salicylic acid is a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid). This is one of two main categories of acids you’re likely to have heard of, the other being AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids).
While AHAs are water-soluble and deal only with the skin’s surface, BHAs are oil-soluble, meaning they penetrate the lipid layers between skin cells more easily. As a result BHAs not only exfoliate the uppermost layer but also get deeper into pores to dissolve debris.
This quality makes BHAs great for removing the gunk that accumulates over the day, as well as keeping blackheads and whiteheads at bay. So, it’s an excellent ingredient to have in a product which cleanses or removes make-up.
Those with oily or combination skin will reap the rewards of using salicylic acid daily, especially if adult acne is a concern, but drier skin-types can benefit from occasional use too.
Dija also recommends it for anyone who tends to get oiler around that time of month, since it’s great at mopping up excess oil.
Plus, although salicylic acid is best-known for its decongesting properties, it’s also an anti-ager. As it helps remove dead skin, it encourages new cell growth, making you appear more radiant.
Salicylic acid is actually one of the heroes behind LBB’s Take Off – Touch Down cleansing cloths. Our plant-based salicylic acid is derived from Wintergreen, an aromatic plant long used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions and bacterial infections, and works to gently exfoliate and renew.
GLYCOLIC ACID – THE EXFOLIATOR
Glycolic acid is the most common type of AHA. This category of acids target the most superficial layer of skin, loosening the bonds that keep dead skin cells attached to leave your face smooth.
When dead skin cells are left on the skin’s surface, it can’t bounce as much light, making it appear duller. Using glycolic acid regularly will prevent this. As it has the smallest molecular weight of all AHAs, it penetrates skin more than others, giving quicker results.
Since this is a versatile acid, it’s commonly found in a variety of products, including cleansers, toners and peels. Depending on the concentration, it can be used regularly, though twice a week is enough for target exfoliating treatments.
Heard the myth that glycolic acid shouldn’t be used on darker skin? Dija points out that’s an absolute misconception. Issues only arise when the acid is overused!
However, if you’re nervous about AHAs or have sensitive skin, mandelic acid is a gentler alternative.
HYALURONIC ACID – THE PLUMPER
Hyaluronic acid is well-known for its hydrating properties. Although it’s bio-available, our natural quantities diminish as we mature, making it a useful addition to over 30s routines.
Hyaluronic acid’s main bodily function is to retain water and keep tissues moist, so products containing it will stimulate the skin’s natural moisturising factors. This means plumper skin and the reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This one is typically found in serums or integrated into moisturisers, and can be safely used up to twice a day, depending on your hydration needs. Hyaluronic acid should also be used after exfoliating acids. Otherwise you’ll be removing the product you’ve just applied!
For ultimate moisture retention in over 40s skin, incorporating hyaluronic acid into your routine as well as ceramides, and or fatty lipids to help encourage skin barrier repair is especially recommended at night. LBB’s A-Game hydration balm, uniquely combines all of these in one product. Leave on overnight for an enriching hydration treatment.
ASCORBIC ACID – THE PROTECTOR
Better-known as vitamin C, ascorbic acid is a water-soluble nutrient and antioxidant.
Antioxidants will help to repair some of the sun damage that has started to develop over the years—they also brighten dull skin, and help to rejuvenate collagen.
They also protect the skin from further free radical damage, which is why it’s best used daily and applied in the morning. Make sure to pair this with a sunscreen, though!
L-ascorbic acid is the most stable form of vitamin C, and the one Dija recommends. Purer forms more easily react, which stops them doing their job for your skin.
KOJIC ACID – THE PIGMENTATION-FIGHTER
If you want to address hyperpigmentation, kojic acid is a great choice. As it’s a tyrosinase inhibitor it prevents dark spots developing by inhibiting the formation of melanin.
Derived from fungi and a by-product of rice wine, it’s a well-kept Japanese beauty secret.
It’s safe to use in concentrations up to one percent, and found in serums, creams and cleansers. Generally it can be used daily.
It produces quick results, especially if you’re also using glycolic acid in your routine.
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