Skincare Acids: What are they & what do they do?

Skincare Acids: What are they & what do they do?

Skin acids what are they and what do they do glycolic kojic lactic salicylic and hyaluronic acidsexplained Pinterest via @BryJaimea #skincare #beauty #acids #acid #skinhealth #healthyskin #antiaging #antiwrinkle #removewrinkles #reducelines #finelines #wrinkles #agingWelcome to #SkincareSunday, my weekly dedicated post to beautiful, healthy skin. Today we’re looking at a common ingredient in anti-aging skincare, Acids, so grab a hot chocolate, pop on a mud mask, and let’s get into it!

At work, I’m the person a lot of people go to for skincare chat: I’m always discussing new releases, skincare products and tools from jade rollers, to LED masks, I’m your go to girl to chat anything skin related.

The other day whilst chatting skincare with some work colleagues, I mentioned that I used a lot of acids on my skin – a statement that was met with gasps.

As someone with a love for skincare, me including acids in my skincare routine is completely ordinary, especially as I am in my mid-thirties, and my skin is showing signs of ageing. But to those only just entering into the skincare game, or those who are confused by all these acids, I understand the thought of applying these chemicals to our skin must be slightly scary, if not overwhelming!

When we think acid, we think of burning chemicals that will cause us harm. However, not all acids are created equally, thankfully, and even every day foods in our kitchens contains some form of acids, such as lemon, limes and even yoghurt!

The right acids used in the right way can work wonders for our cooking and our complexions.

Most of my skincare contains the right type of acids for improving complexions and general skin health, from the commonly known Glycolic Acid right through to the lesser known Kojic Acid.

In fact Kojic Acid soap is one of my Beauty Bible items – it’s the only product I’ve found that helped reduce scarring from sun damage many years ago (I was so badly sunburnt that I had a perma-tan on my shoulders).

Anyway, there are five main forms of acid used in skincare which I’ve listed below.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the science behind skincare, and even a science lover like myself can get confused by formulas and molecular structures! That’s why I’ve decided to keep this information brief, to tell you what you need to know about each acid to keep things simple and straight to the point.

Whether you’re looking for brighter skin, smoother skin, or all round healthier skin, check out these acids next time you’re looking to try a new product.

Skincare Acids 101: What are they and what do they do?

Glycolic Acid

What is it?

Glycolic acid is one of the more common acids you’ll find in your skincare and is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugary fruits or sugar cane. Because it’s molecules are the smallest of all AHA’s, and it’s also water soluble, it sinks into the skin easily.

What does it do?

Glycolic acid is an exfoliant, removing the outmost layer of dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother skin. It’s used to reduce signs of ageing such as discolouration and fine lines, as well as scarring.


Salicylic Acid

What is it?

Originally extracted from Willow Bark, Salicylic Acid is now mostly made synthetically. It is the only BHA (beta-hydroxy acid) used in topical skincare.

What does it fo?

Salicylic Acid helps reduce dead skin cells, similar to exfoliation. It is used mainly to help regulate oily skin and treat blemish and acne prone complexions.


Lactic Acid

What is it?

Although it may sound similar to “lactose”, Lactic Acid (another AHA) is derived from fermented carbohydrates (that is to say, sugars). Although, it can also be found in soured milk products such as sour cream and yoghurt as the sugars in the dairy break down.

What does it do?

A gentle exfoliant and much more mild than Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid can be used to help reduce signs of ageing such as fine lines, and is also useful for controlling acne prone skin.


Kojic Acid

What is it?

Kojic Acid comes from fungi as well as being a by-product of the fermentation process of rice for making sake.

What does it do?

Kojic Acid has a reputation as a skin lightener, however, it is used for balancing skin tone as it helps helps prevent melanin production. That is to say, it aids in preventing sun spots, discolouration and freckles.


Hyaluronic Acid

What is it?

Hyaluronic Acid is naturally present within our bodies, however diminishes as we age. It is also produced by fermenting wheat using specific bacteria, and this is the Hyaluronic Acid we find in our skincare.

What does it do?

Hyaluronic Acid is essentially nature’s moisturiser. A humectant, it holds water and moisture in the skin and helps prevent dehydrated skin, which helps reduce the signs of ageing skin.


Using the right acids can make our huge difference to our complexions, but like all acids they do come with a warning. Always read the instructions when using skincare containing acids and if you experience any irritation remove the product immediately and apply a soothing balm.

Now that you know what all these acids do, and where they are from, are you going to start introducing them to your skincare routine? What acids do you already use?

xx Bry Jaimea