What’s the best acid for your skin type? We’ve created an entire guide for you here!
The idea of putting acids on your skin can seem daunting. But in actuality, there are so many acids out there that do wonders for skin, and it’s just about finding the right one for you. Here is our breakdown of acids by skin type:
Dry skin can be extremely tricky when delving into the world of acids. Some can be way too harsh on your skin and make your dryness worse. This skin type can also be extremely sensitive, and even acne-prone. Texture, hydration, and anti-aging are some of major concerns when dealing with dry skin. Here are the acids, and products, that meet your dry skin’s needs:
This superstar acid variant of vitamin C is a must if you deal with dry, flaky skin. It helps to even out your skin tone and leave you with brighter, cleaner skin. It can also repair damage from pollution and other external stressors. Ascorbic acid is especially good for dry skin types since it fights signs of anti-aging and repairs damage, something dry skin types can really struggle with. Try CosRX’s Triple C Lightning Liquid, which has 20.5% vitamin C to really brighten dull spots.
Having dry skin means making your skin care products work that much harder to remove dead skin cells in order to leave your face glowing and refreshed. That’s where glycolic acid comes in. Glycolic acid is an AHA that is found in fruits and milk. Over time, it majorly improves dullness and dryness as it encourages the production of collagen and elastin in your face. The Skinfood Pineapple Morning Peeling Gel is a great way for dry skin to get a healthy dose of glycolic acid.
This trendy acid has people everywhere super pumped about its ultra-hydrating abilities. Hyaluronic acid, or HA, is actually a naturally occurring acid in the body that serves as a powerful humectant (a moisture-grabbing ingredient). It’s perfect for people with dry, flaky skin since it not only deposits moisture but locks it in. The Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence is packed full of HA as well as collagen and glycerin to provide you with plenty of skin plumping moisture.
One of the most popular AHAs out there in skin care, lactic acid is another acid known for its anti-aging prowess. Dry skin types can have more trouble combatting signs of aging and need a lot of moisture from products to help balance skin texture and feel. Lactic acid is a gentler alternative to glycolic acid, so if you have dry and sensitive skin then this is a great option. Try out Neogen’s Rice Peel & Activator Sake which uses rice powder and sake to naturally brighten skin and lactic acid to preserve it.
This acid is an excellent moisturizer that doesn’t leave you with too much shine. Dry skin can be acne-prone due to an excess of “sticky” dead skin cells clogging up pores, and oleic acid is a game changer for acne-prone dry skin because this fatty acid will rejuvenate your skin without causing breakouts. If you have dry skin and want to find a sunscreen, the Enature Plantlicious UV Suncreen SPF 48 +++ is a great choice, and contains safflower oil, which is a great source of oleic acid.
Tartaric acid is naturally occurring in many plants, but the coolest thing about it is that it’s the chief acid in wine. It’s full of antioxidants and is perfect for smoothing out the texture of flaky skin. Dry skin types will love using the Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine because in addition to having chemical exfoliants in it, the gauze-sided pad serves as physical exfoliant. Perfect for evening out your dry skin!
OILY + ACNE PRONE
Finding products that treat oily skin without causing an onset of breakouts can be difficult. Most oily, acne-prone people are familiar with salicylic acid as the holy grail acid for blemishes. But here are some more acids and skin care products that will meet your skin’s needs without aggravating it:
This unique acid is amazing at soothing and smoothing skin. Azelaic acid is known for its anti-inflammation properties, which can be beneficial to those with acne-prone skin and frequent breakouts. What makes it so powerful is that it inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria, making it a preventative skin care move. Although this particular acid can be hard to find, it’s definitely worth looking into. We recommend The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% if you want to try out this acid on oily skin.
Glycolic acid is a great option for people disposed to frequent breakouts. This acid reduces the excessive oil produced by your skin, which is usually the culprit causing acne and blemishes. The Skinfood Tea Tree Bubble Cleansing Foam is perfect of oily or acne prone skin since it uses the combination of glycolic acid with tea tree oil to thoroughly cleanse and prevent future breakouts.
This ingredient is a great way to give your oily skin a little TLC without inciting more oil production, and thus clogged pores. Like I said before, what makes HA such an effective ingredient is that it is actually something already produced in the body. The version made for skin care pumps up the naturally occurring acid and locks the moisture in.
The Missha Super Aqua Ultra Water-full Clear Cream is a personal HA-infused favorite of mine that is especially great for oily skin or those with combination skin. This oil-free clear cream adds a healthy dose of sealed moisture to your daily routine without leaving you with shiny skin.
Famously used by Cleopatra when she took milk baths to soften her skin, lactic acid is used in tons of skin care products today. For oily skin, lactic acid is a gentle way to help control oiliness and breakouts, and even helps repair acne scars. It works solely on the surface of your skin and is therefore gentler than some of the other acids for oily skin, making it perfect for people with oily yet sensitive skin.
A great product with lactic acid is the Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mousse Mask with Super Volcanic Cluster. This mask uses lactic acid as well as volcanic rock clusters to remove blocked pores and impurities, leaving you with softer, less oily skin.
Derived from willow bark, salicylic acid is probably the most widely recognized treatment for acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid breaks down the oily sebum that clogs pores and helps prevent blemishes and breakouts. It also increases cell turnover, helping to repair damage from acne as well as treat it. The CosRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser is a great water-based cleanser to use if you’re dealing with frequent breakouts and want a gentle, yet effective, way to get some salicylic acid into your routine.
Anyone with combination skin knows just how confusing navigating skin care can be. When different parts of your face have varying concerns, it can be tricky to strike a balance with your routine. These acids are the best of both worlds and will leave your skin feeling refreshed and rehydrated:
These particular acid exfoliants, beta hydroxy acids, are great for combination skin. Not only do they get rid of excess dry skin cells, they also leave your skin more hydrated. This is because BHAs work inside the pores as well as on the surface of the skin. They’re also a super proactive anti-aging treatment since they help skin cells regenerate and repair sun damage. The CosRX Natural BHA Skin Returning Emulsion is perfect for getting a little BHA dose to combat your combination skin.
Think of this one as Oleic Acid lite. Oils high in linoleic acids—like passion fruit, sea buckthorn, and evening primrose oil—are great for combination skin because rather than block pores they help to maintain and clean them. They will insure your dry areas get some well-deserved moisture without upsetting the oily parts of your face. The Banila Co Clean It Zero Purity is a great oil cleanser that uses a blend of oils, including primrose oil, to gently cleanse. As a sensitive, combination skin person myself, I can’t get enough of this stuff.
This acid makes up a family that includes fruits, such as apples and pears. Malic acid serves as a gentle exfoliant that also adds moisture back into the skin. Additionally, it can help with hyperpigmentation. The Klavuu White Pearlsation Revitalizing Pear Treatment Toner is a great option for combination skin, using apple fruit water and pearl extract to gently tone and exfoliate.
With normal skin, the acid world is pretty much your oyster. Any of the acids mentioned could be great to target any specific concerns you may have. Here are some options to try out:
Acid blends are great for normal skin because they allow you to get the most out of one product. Since normal skin is likely to be compatible with many different acids, you can shop around and find combinations that work for you. The Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser is packed with lauric acid, stearic acid, and citric acid, while the Banila CO White Wedding Dream Cream really packs a punch with caprylhydroxamic acid, folic acid, ascorbic acid, and pantothenic acid.
Citric acid is great for normal skin types since it is gentle and tackles the basics. This acid helps to balance skin complexion as well as slough off dead skin. It’s also a great antioxidant that promotes the regeneration of skin cells. The Leaders Labotica Argan Oil Deep Cleansing Tissue is a great solution if you’re short on time, or traveling light. They are portable but still ingredient-rich with argan oil, citric acid, and papaya fruit extract.
Another great product for normal skin, and honesty most skin types, is the Son & Park Beauty Water. This cleansing water contains citric acid as well as willow bark extract and papaya extract, which keeps you skin toned, moisturized, and fresh.
Creating a skin care routine when you have sensitive skin is a slightly stressful process and it can be difficult to determine what is gentle enough or what will itch, burn, or even cause a breakout. But the solution is simple. Just use PHAs:
Also known as PHAs, what makes these acids so great is they have larger molecule structures, meaning they stick to the surface of the skin and are way gentler than some other acids. They also help to calm existing irritation while boosting your skin with a ton of antioxidants.
Lactobionic acid and gluconic acid are both PHAs that can be a good match for super sensitive skin. For beginners, try using the CosRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream. It’s a great way to introduce your skin to PHAs while also maintaining moisture. The My Skin Mentor Dr G Brightening Peeling Cream is another wonderful PHA-rich product that uses a blend of PHAs, AHAs, and BHAs to gently exfoliate while you sleep.