If you’ve got your basic skincare regime down and are looking to take your skin to the next level, you might be thinking of adding acids into your regime.
STYLE STORY runs through the common acids, how to use them and what results you can expect to see with regular use.
WHAT ARE ACIDS?
If you aren’t familiar with acids, these are the big guns of skincare – they are products designed to treat a variety of common skin issues such as blackheads, whiteheads, breakouts, hyper-pigmentation, and blocked pores.
Skincare-friendly acids are usually classed into two categories: AHAs and BHAs.
AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)
AHAs exfoliate the outer layer of skin, removing dead skin to uncover the fresh stuff.
AHAs work well on dry, flaking skin to stop pores from clogging and on hyper-pigmentation.
They help brighten the skin for a clearer, more refined complexion.
This group of acids includes glycolic acid (one of the most common acids), lactic acid, mandelic acid and more.
BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids)
BHAs exfoliate at a deeper level, making them excellent for keeping pores clear and protecting from breakouts. They also work well at reducing inflammation.
Common BHAs include salicylic acid and in Korean Beauty products, betaine salicylate.
Confusingly (and despite the word “acid” in it’s name), hyaluronic acid is actually not a true acid in the way that BHAs and AHas are – instead, Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant (a water-binding agent) that works by attracting water to the skin to increase its hydration. In this way, it also functions in a different manner than AHAs and BHAs.
How do acids work?
AHA and BHA exfoliants work in a similar way – namely, they unglue the bonds that leave dead skin stuck on the skin’s surface. This allows old skin to shed normally and helps reveal the smoother, fresher skin hiding beneath.
How do I use acids?
If it’s your first time using an acid product, start off slowly. Use it once or twice a week initially, then slowly build up your tolerance.
The application technique for acids is as follows:
1 After cleansing (and after Vitamin C serum if you use one), apply a small amount of your acid to the target area morning or night.
2 Spread out an even amount to the rest of the face, avoiding the eye area.
3 Focusing on the target area, massage lightly and allow full absorption.
4 For best results, wait 20-30 minutes before applying any other products to allow the acid to take effect without being prematurely neutralized.
NB. If you use your acids in the morning, make sure you apply sunscreen afterwards
Also remember to be careful with your acids if you are already using a prescription-strength retinoid or if you have an aspirin allergy.
What differences will you notice using acids?
As acids are non-abrasive and require no manual exfoliation, they can be a lot gentler on the skin that scrubs, and more effective than wash-off masks.
Common benefits you’ll notice using acids include:
Softer, more hydrated skin
Smoothing hard, bumpy, flaky, rough and coarse skin
Brightening and clarifying the complexion
An improvement in active breakouts, clogged pores and closed comedones
Brightened skin tone
Reduced visibility of fine lines
Do I need to use both?
In a word? No.
Both provide impressive results and treat similar skin concerns. The best thing to do is try both and see which works best with your skin. You might find your skin looks best using both at once, or even just one.
Our favourite acids?
STYLE STORY’s favourite Korean Beauty products containing acids include:
COSRX Whitehead Power Liquid – this is a powerful AHA skin treatment that is designed to exfoliate deep into the skin, reducing whiteheads and blackheads and working to prevent the formation of blemishes before they even occur.
Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum – this is a famous Korean beauty product that is highly concentrated with 8% AHA. Used daily, it works to gently but effectively exfoliate dead skin cells and lighten hyper-pigmentation. It is perfect for smoothing and brightening skin and lightening scars.
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid – this is a powerful BHA skin treatment that is designed to prevent the formation of blemishes before they even occur.
Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner – this is a skin-balancing toner that resets skin to the correct pH level after cleansing. This enables it to better absorb the active ingredients in the skincare products you use next.