What are the best acids for acne? Discover which ones to seek out to banish scars faster and which ones help destroy blackheads.
When it comes to treating acne, there are few ingredients more important and effective than acids. Acids will work to deeply exfoliate the skin and keep pores clear. However, not all acids are created equal. Some acids are more or less effective at treating acne, and some really aren’t for acne at all. Below, I break down the four best acids to incorporate into your routine if you’re looking to keep your breakouts at bay.
Benzoyl peroxide makes the top spot because it is arguably the most well-researched acid that’s proven to be effective. It is one of the most common ingredients used to treat acne and the tests and research done on the product are extensive and conclusive. Long story short, it works.
However, many brands make cleansers and treatments that use benzoyl peroxide in ways that are too harsh for the skin. While the products do target breakouts, they can wreak havoc on the rest of your healthy skin. So the key is to find a benzoyl peroxide formula that works but also employs hydrating and soothing ingredients, and is formulated to be more gentle on the skin. A great option for this is the Paula’s Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide, which is formulated with skin soothing agents to be gentle and hydrating on the skin while still targeting breakouts.
Another superstar acid is salicylic acid, a type of BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid). It’s found in lots of products and is known as a powerful chemical exfoliant. This is because its molecular structure makes it more easily absorbed by the skin, meaning it can penetrate deeper into pores, breaking down pore-clogging particles and supporting healthy cell turnover. This makes it a great option for blackheads and whiteheads, which are the direct result of clogged pores.
One of my favorite products is the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner. This toner employs the powerful exfoliating properties of salicylic acid, while it also incorporates aloe and snail to hydrate and restore skin. Basically, it’s perfectly balanced and is gentle on the skin but powerfully effective at fighting acne and blackheads.
Glycolic Acid is one of the most well researched and widely used forms of AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids). Similar to its BHA counterpart, glycolic acid acts as a chemical exfoliate that helps to slough away dead skin and clear pores. However, glycolic acid is also widely recognized as an effective re-surfacing agent. It works to combat fine lines, pigmentation, and scarring by boosting cellular turnover. It’s also a hydrating acid, so it helps to make sure your skin’s surface barrier stays hydrated and strong. Basically, it’s a superstar multitasker that will not only reduce breakouts but even out skin tone and texture.
A great and powerfully potent product is the Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, which is formulated to be a gentle yet effective dose of AHAs for your skin.
PHAs are arguably the lesser known members of the acid family. PHAs, or Polyhydroxy Acids, are not as commonly used but are incredibly effective. The key difference is their largely molecular size, which means they don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, making them more gentle and effective at dealing with issues at the surface. Additionally, they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help to alleviate redness and other surface signs of acne. Long story short, if you are craving chemical exfoliation but have sensitive skin, PHAs are the acids for you.
A great and revolutionary product for incorporating PHAs into your routine is the Hanskin PHA Blackhead Cleansing Oil, which incorporates PHAs into a gentle oil cleansing formula, along with jojoba and aloe extracts to hydrate the skin. It’s heavenly for sensitive skin types, and powerfully fights off blackheads and surface acne.
There are a lot of acids out there to choose from, but when it comes to fighting acne, these should be your go-tos. Whether you’re looking for a deeply penetrating exfoliation to ward off cystic acne, or a milder surface treatment for your pesky blackheads, there’s an acid for you.