The Five Most Important Acids For Your Skin

image via stocksy

image via stocksy

S-K-I-N. If I knew just how important this would be in my adult years I would have savored ever wrinkle-free, pore-less, acne-less year of my adolescence. I would have worn SPF 1,000 and used an umbrella 365. I would have taken one million selfies and gone makeup free every day of my life...you get the picture. My biggest gripe with this whole thing is that absolutely no one warns you about adult acne. Like, you come out of high school in the clear (no pun intended), thinking you escaped that whole fiasco and boom- you turn 22 and start having crazy hormonal breakouts and get formally introduced to cystic pimples. My skin is either clear as the carribean or a full blown volcanic eruption- there’s no in between. Allegedly I’m supposed to be cutting out dairy to see if it helps, but sorry- once you’ve met cheese you can’t just forget about it. So, I’ve begun to educate myself and am getting familiar with the best products to use for my very common breakout woes. It turns out acids are where it’s at. Not just for acne, but for every little thing- discoloration, exfoliation, brightening, combating free radicals (pollutants), yadi yada yada. 

Long story short, there are two different types- alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs are water soluble- meaning that they help more on a surface level, breaking down dead skin cells on the outer layer of your skin. BHAs are oil soluble, so they go down deep into the pores, aiding in deep cleansing and unclogging (yum). Honestly, it can get pretty confusing. I’m keeping it simple and breaking it down to the five most important acids for your skin, what they are, when you should apply them, and where to find them:

Ferulic- Ferulic acid fights free radicals, signs of aging (wrinkles, dullness, etc.), and boosts the effectiveness of vitamins A, C, and E, so these two usually work best when paired together in products. 

Dr. Gross Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution- One of my favorites. I hate feeling like I have too much product on during the day since I have a tendency to get pretty oily. This serum is nice, light, moisturizing and effective. My skin is pretty sensitive and this one never irritates it. It can be added to your nighttime regimen as well.

The Ordinary- Great for correcting dark spots. The Ordinary is an affordable and quality line...like- this serum is only $7. It can be used alone every other day in addition to a heavier moisturizer, or alone depending on skin type. 

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic- SkinCeuticals price tag is a bit heftier, but countless dermatologists and estheticians plug it on the reg with good reason. This serum contains ferulic acid and vitamin C and E. It’s great for sun damage, aging and dull skin. Recommended use is in the morning.

Hyaluronic- Binds collagen, helps skin retain moisture, giving it a plumper, more filled out look. No really, it’s used in a lot of fillers, so just think of how important it is to apply this daily for a more youthful appearance. It can also be ingested in pill form and can be found in potatoes which Olivia Munn swears by.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel- The Hydro Boost Water Gel came recommended by my dermatologist when I was struggling with really bad hormonal breakouts last year. I’ll be using this product until it’s discontinued, which it never will because it rules. It’s light, moisturizing, and your makeup will go on perfectly.  It comes in an eye cream as well.

Lactic- Less harsh than other AHA’s, lactic acid is used by a lot of estheticians for a gentle peel. This is definitely preferable for those with sensitive skin (hi). It can be used as a serum or in exfoliating pads.

The Ordinary- A great, cheap AF serum you can apply nightly.

Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys- Gentle wipes you can use daily before applying your other products. They’ll remove dead skin cells and leave you with a much brighter, happier complexion. 

Salicylic- The most common acid used to combat acne. It fights bacteria and exfoliates. Salicylic is definitely harsh on the skin, so you don’t want to overdo it. 

Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser- A staple in our household. It’s gentle enough to be used daily and has a really nice consistency. 

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask- Aside from the fact that Drunk Elephant has great products, I would be sold on the name alone. Really amazing, buzzworthy mask you can use once a week to fight acne and resurface your skin.

Glycolic- The OG of acids, glycolic will help shrink pores, minimize scarring and wrinkles, and leave you looking bright and SMOOTH. 

Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum- Murad has proven to be tried and true and this product is no exception. It’s great for reducing redness and hyper-pigmentation. Apply to clean, dry skin in the pm. 

Honorable mention:

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels- These contain five different acids and can be used daily am or pm. I’ve been using these on and off for years and I can’t recommend them enough. 

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution- This product was recently brought to my attention, and although I haven’t tried it yet, I can’t wait. The reviews are amazing and it’s the same price as an oat milk latte. Use a couple of times a week at night on clean, dry skin, leave on for 10 minutes max, then wash off with lukewarm water.