Aging is something we all should embrace, TBH. Not only do we get older and wiser as the years go on, but our skin gets older — and it shows. While many of us slather on anti-aging creams and other treatments, using the right *acids* on your face can make a huge difference. I got the deets on which acids benefit our skin and why from two of my go-to skincare gurus, Sonia Deasy, founder of beauty and body wellness company Pestle & Mortar, and Kerry Benjamin, founder and owner of Stacked Skincare. Read on to learn about five acids you should consider adding to your skincare routine and the benefits each of them offers up.
Ohhh, glycolic acid. You might have heard of this alpha hydroxy acid because it’s found in a ton of skincare products, but it’s most commonly used in chemical peels. “Glycolic acid can easily penetrate the skin deeper than other acids, which in turn makes it the most effective acid for treating signs of aging,” Sonia explained. “Using products containing glycolic acid can help offset fine lines and wrinkles, but it can also help treat blackheads, acne, dull skin and oiliness.” If a chemical peel isn’t your thing — and trust me, it isn’t for everyone — you can get your glycolic on by using a gentle toner like Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner ($18).
Dubbed the miracle moisturizer, hyaluronic acid takes hydration to the next level. “Hyaluronic acid is described as nature’s moisturizer because it’s a carb that naturally occurs in the body,” Sonia said. “As you age — particularly after you turn 30 — your body produces less hyaluronic acid, which our skin shows by appearing dry and wrinkled.” Kerry explained that, unlike the other acids on this list, HA doesn’t exfoliate the skin. “It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our skin, drawing water up from the dermis to the epidermis.” Using a topical HA serum like Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum ($69) can help get your skin back to that baby soft plumpness we’re born with.
Lactic acid — an alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk — could be your skincare savior if you’re all about exfoliating, hydrating and brightening the skin. “A peel containing lactic acid is great to treat hyperpigmentation, dry or dehydrated skin, sensitive skin and even eczema and rosacea,” Kerry said. “It has a natural moisturizing effect on the skin and is less irritating than other alpha hydroxy acids.” Incorporating a product like Olga Lorencin Lactic Acid Hydrating Serum ($75) into your regimen can help firm up your complexion and reduce breakouts while also leaving behind an even-textured face. It’s also safe to use while pregnant and can help with dryness and/or breakouts associated with pregnancy, FYI.
Salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial beta hydroxy acid, can stand up to stubborn acne. “Salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into oil glands, making it ideal for acneic and oily skin,” Kerry explained. “It dissolves sebum and dead skin inside pores and can prevent the formation of new blemishes.” Using a peel like Stacked Skincare Deep Sea Mineral Peel ($150), which contains willow bark extract (a natural source of salicylic acid), will eliminate bacteria that causes acne while revealing brighter, smoother and more even-toned skin.
Found in citrus fruits, this acid has multiple benefits that help make your skin look younger as you age. “Citric acid helps promote skin regrowth and reduces the appearance of dark spots,” Sonia said. Kerry recommends incorporating citric acid into your routine by using a peel like Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel ($48). This peel will leave behind fresh, bright skin that’s thoroughly nourished thanks to purified algae extract.
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