All About Acids


Acids are one of those words that can sound scary when you read a skincare ingredient list but fear not. Acids are skin care wonders. They have many benefits for skin health such as exfoliation, protection, and hydration. Here is the low down on some popular acids for skin health.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids – Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) are derived from plants and other food sources. They help to exfoliate the skin by loosening the glue that holds dead skin cells together on the surface of the skin. AHAs are water-soluble so they do not penetrate very deeply into the skin. This makes them best for surface issues such as improving skin texture and brightening the skin. They have the added benefits of accelerating cell turnover and increasing the absorption of skin care products. You may see many AHAs in your skincare ingredient list. Here are a few of the most common:  

  • Glycolic Acid – Glycolic Acid is probably the most widely known of the AHA family and is derived from sugar. It is one of the most effective and least irritating of the AHAs. Its efficacy results from its small molecular size, allowing it to penetrate the skin most easily.  
  • Citric Acid – As the name suggests, Citric Acid is naturally occurring in citrus fruits. Citric Acid acts like all AHAs by exfoliating dead skin and increasing cell turnover. It is also added to skin care products to change their pH level (increasing acidity).  
  • Mandelic Acid – This AHA is derived from almonds and has the added benefit of being antimicrobial, making it a popular ingredient in products used to fight acne and control excess oil. It is the gentlest of the AHAs making it ideal for sensitive skin.  
  • Lactic Acid – Lactic Acid is naturally produced from milk and is a popular ingredient in skin care products. It exfoliates, hydrates, and is another great acid for sensitive skin. Lactic Acid helps to improve the appearance of dry skin, dark spots, and large pores.

Products with AHAs: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cleanser, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cream, Jan Marini BioClear Lotion/Cream, Epionce Lytic Tx, Jan Marini BioGlycolic Cleanser, Jan Marini Luminate Face Mask.  

Beta Hydroxy Acids – Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) are known acne fighters. The BHA most frequently seen on your skincare ingredient list is Salicylic Acid. BHAs binds to oil, making them great for unclogging pores by ridding them of dirt, oil, and bacteria. BHAs are also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. These properties calm the redness and irritation associated with acne breakouts. BHAs are best for oily and acne-prone skin but can be drying for other skin types.

  • Products with BHAs: SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Defense, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cleanser, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cream, Jan Marini BioClear Lotion/Cream, Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser.  

Azelaic Acid – Azelaic Acid is derived from grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It is a gentle acid with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it well tolerated by most skin types. It aids in exfoliation and helps improve acne and the appearance of hyperpigmentation. 

  • Products with Azelaic Acid: Epionce Purifying Spot Gel, Jan Marini BioClear Lotion/Cream, Epionce Lytic Tx.  

Ascorbic Acid – This acid is naturally found in citrus fruits and is a very potent form of Vitamin C. Ascorbic Acid is a powerful antioxidant, protecting the skin from accelerated aging caused by free radical damage. It is known to brighten the skin, even skin tone, and stimulate collagen production, leading to a more youthful overall appearance.

  • Products with Ascorbic Acid: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF.

Ferulic Acid – Ferulic acid is another plant-derived acid found in grains and the seeds of certain fruits. It is an amazing antioxidant, protecting the skin from oxidative stress while correcting existing damage. It is known for its ability to easily penetrate the skin and it helps to stabilize and improve the efficacy of Vitamins C and E. 

  • Products with Ferulic Acid: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF. 

Hyaluronic Acid – Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in all connective tissues and skin. It holds 1,000 times its weight in water and gives skin a plump and smooth appearance. As we age, we produce less Hyaluronic Acid, so it is frequently added to skin care products to help improve dryness, skin texture, and elasticity. Hyaluronic Acid is great for all skin types. 

  • Products with Hyaluronic Acid: SkinMedica HA5, SkinMedica HA5 Smooth, and Plump Lip System, Jan Marini Hyla, SkinCeuticals B5 Gel, Epionce Intense Defense Serum.
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.