Acid on your face: is this the secret to amazing skin?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Acid on your face? You must be kidding, right? No, we are not talking the harmful kind, let us explain a little.

Exfoliation is the process of eliminating unwanted dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. It is an important step in maintaining a healthy cell turnover as we get older.

Acid is your skin’s friend

As we age our natural regeneration process slows down. This leaves our skin looking dull and lifeless and almost gray in complexion. Unless we take action these unwanted dead skin cells can clog pores, leading to blackheads, congestion, and breakouts. Worst of all you are wasting your valuable skin care products as they try to penetrate through layers of dead skin.

There are two ways to exfoliate the skin:

1. Physical peel: A physical exfoliant uses manual grit-like ingredients, these are massaged into the skin and as a result slough away the dead skin.
2. Chemical peel: Chemical peels are exfoliants which are acid-based they dissolve the skin cells without any mechanical stimulation or abrasion.

Acid exfoliation or chemical peels

Chemical skin peels can be divided into two categories:

* alpha-hydroxy-acids (AHAs): AHAs work on the surface

* beta-hydroxy-acids (BHAs):  BHAs penetrate deeper and are great for combatting oily, clogged pores and tackling acne.

Both types of acids will improve the skin’s appearance, improve radiance, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How do I choose?

So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at six of the most common acids.
1. Glycolic – AHA – derived from plants with a high sugar content and provide a mild exfoliation.
2. Salicylic – BHA – combats pimples and breakouts. Salicylic penetrates into pores to reduce inflammation, combat bacteria and exfoliate dead skin cells blocking the entrance of the pores.
3. Citric Acid – AHA – Derived from citrus fruit (often Vitamin C) – great for boosting the radiance of the skin.
4. Azelaic Acid – BHA – while azelaic acid is mildly water-soluble, and ideal for acne, hyperpigmentation, and rosacea thanks to its anti-inflammatory action.
5. Lactic Acid – AHA – great for sensitive skin and suitable for all skin types.
6. Mandelic Acid – AHA – Mandelic is really gentle, while still getting to work dislodging dead skin cells. It’s also oil-soluble, meaning it can get to work inside your pores as well. Ideal even for the most sensitive skin.

In conclusion

No matter how young or old it is never too early or too late to start giving your skin a more meaningful exfoliation. For deeper peels only make use of an aesthetics doctor. Choose wisely and always seek out the advice of a professional.

Have a question for our experts? Ask them here.

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Tell your friends

    I have acne scarring and I wonder if this might help. Tried everything and nothing makes it lighter

    10 months ago •

    1. BeautySouthAfrica

      Hey! Yeah, I have some scarring, too. Try find products with niacinamide and zinc, these will help for redness and any new spots. Then try a gentle lactic acid formula for reducing dark spots. Think of acids as things that are slowly going to remove the layers of skin that have the scarring, eventually making way for unaffected skin. Just make sure to introduce acids slowly, otherwise they can cause serious irritation. – Aléz

      10 months ago •

  1. Zahraa Salie

    My mom introduced me to a sugar and honey peel which was really great until I started using contraceptives.

    1 year ago •

    1. HURTERQ

      Hi there. How does that work? Do you just mix the sugar and honey together? (in what ration? and then apply to face?

      10 months ago •

  1. Rachna Misra

    I am doing fruit peels at the moment and I absolutely love it. my skin feels fresh and amazing and it helps with the scarring from my acne

    1 year ago •


    I think this might irritate my sensitive skin.

    1 year ago •

  1. Humaira Motala

    Real interesting article. Thank You!

    1 year ago •

  1. Diana Van Den Berg

    MMM me like the good acids like papaya

    1 year ago •

  1. Belinda Van Tura

    As someone who has always had problematic skin, the thought of acid has always just seemed so harsh but after reading this I’m more open or rather willing to consider it.

    1 year ago •

  1. Chandni Jivan

    Very informative article. I didn’t know acid was good for your skin…

    1 year ago •

  1. Fayyaadhah Bux

    Will definitely try this out

    1 year ago •

  1. Fayyaadhah Bux

    Extremely useful information

    1 year ago •

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