A bride’s guide to facial acids
Are you a bride-to-be? Then you’re probably well on your way to planning a skincare regime, to look your glowing best on your wedding day. Whether you plan to visit a dermatologist or a skin aesthetician or your neighbourhood parlour, you will be introduced to products that contain some kind of acid. When we hear the word ‘acid’, we imagine something corrosive and harsh. The reality is that our skin has a natural pH that’s slightly acidic. Different kinds of topical acids can be extremely helpful in targeting specific problems and preventing skin issues as well. Facial acids help you get new skin quicker through a process called “turnover”, because they remove dull and old skin cells, while prompting the production of new skin.
Don’t know where to start? Not to worry! We have the guide to facial acids for you…
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This is one of the most popular acids as it addresses myriad skin problems. It is derived from sugar cane and is from the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family. Glycolic acid is a good acid to start with as it has one of the smallest molecules, meaning it is water soluble and can penetrate deeply into the skin. This facial acid gently exfoliates skin thereby reducing fine line, fades dark spots, prevents acne and evens out skin texture. Look for products that have a concentration of Glycolic acid that is less than 10%. Using glycolic acid does cause sun sensitivity, so be sure to use a sunscreen during the day while using it. This acid should not be used indefinitely, but instead used on a cycle, one month on and month off. If you opt for Glycolic acid facial, then you must give your skin time to renew before re-starting any product with acid in it. Also remember never to mix products that have glycolic acid, with retinol.
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Most acne related skin products contain salicylic acid and chances are that you may already have tried this facial acid. Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and is the second most common acid because of use in acne products. The size of molecules is larger than glycolic acid, so it comes in lower concentrations between 0.5% and 2%. This acid exfoliates the pores by penetrating deep into the skin’s layers, encouraging the pores to unclog. This reduces the build-up of sebum, removes dirt and reduces the size of pores thereby healing existing acne and preventing further breakouts. Salicylic acid is part of the aspirin family, so it is also a great anti-inflammatory agent. If you are prone to acne, be sure to include this facial acid in your daily skin care regime. Over time it will help heal your skin and maintain your glow for your wedding day.
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Hyaluronic acid is hugely popular at the moment and is seen often in hydrating sheet masks and night skin serums. This facial acid has the ability to hold over 1,000 times its own weight in water. This means that when it is applied on skin, it exponentially increases the skin’s hydration level. Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the body (particularly the eyes and joints) and is also humectant. Humectant means that it has the ability to draw moisture from the environment and deliver it to the skin. So hyaluronic acid is a moisturizing acid and doesn’t dissolve skin cells, it simply increases the skin’s capacity to hold moisture. So if you want plumped up skin, with a dewy look this is the right product for you. It’s also used in non-permanent lip fillers in injectable form.
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Lactic acid is derived from milk and fruit sugars. It has larger molecules which don’t penetrate the layers of skin and it stays on the outer layers. When applied to skin, lactic acid loosens dead cells to reveal brighter and an even skin tone. It also provides additional moisture to the outer skin layers, making it look healthier and glowy. Lactic acid products should be about 10 percent or less, with a pH of around 3.5 to 4. This facial acid is suitable for all skin types and anyone who wants brighter and more hydrated skin. If you’re the cautious kind with sensitive skin, then Lactic acid is the first facial acid to try. It’s the gentlest and tolerated well by almost everyone.
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You’ll recognise the name from Vitamin C serums. L-ascorbic acid is a derivative of vitamin C that’s most often used as an antioxidant on the skin. Topical antioxidants essentially help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, caused by stress and pollution. Free radicals can cause damage to your skin’s collagen which causes discoloration and wrinkles. The concentration of vitamin C in products should be between 10 and 20 percent. L-ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable and exposure to direct light will render your product useless. So be sure to store your vitamin C serums and masks in cool and dark space, like the refrigerator. L-ascorbic acid is great for brightening and protecting skin from damage. It’s best used as a first step to daytime skincare, applied under your moisturizer or sunscreen.
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Most of the facial acids exfoliate the skin, which means they get rid of the outer layer of dead skin cells. This makes the skin more light sensitive, so always use a sunblock with a minimum SPF of 30, while using facial acids. Please be sure to completely avoid DIY acid peels, as these are best done under professional supervision. It’s also always beneficial to consult with a dermatologist before trying facial acids so they can help diagnose your specific issues and recommend the appropriate acid-based skin care product that will suit you.