Friday, 6 April 2012

Acids in Skincare: What, why, where and natural alternatives

These days anything that has 'Rejuvenating', 'Revealing', or 'Repairing' in its Product Description probably has some sort of acid in the ingredients list. So what are these acids and why are they so commonly used in skincare?

Acid's, when used properly, can heal, repair and protect the skin's acid mantle. The acid mantle is a film that sits on top of your skin, is made up of oil and sweat (sounds gross, right?) and has a PH Level of about 4.5-5.5, which is quite acidic. The skin needs to stay around this PH level. To put this into perspective, sea water (which dries my skin out like crazy!) has a PH of around 8 and regular soap has a PH of about 12! Using soap, or products with a high PH strip the skin of its natural oils and make it dry and tight. 

Not all acid products are created equal!  

A good product depends on the PH level, the other ingredients, which acid is actually used and the % at which its used. Then of course there is your skin type- someone with sensitive skin probably can't tolerate an acid that someone with normal skin could. Although I haven't listed every acid under the sun, I hope the following will assist you in choosing the right acid for you and remember:  

All acids make the skin sensitive to sunlight so ALWAYS wear an SPF of at least 30.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Glycolic Acid: A strong exfoliant which renews the skin layers, fades discolorations and reveals the fresh, new skin underneath. In my experience this is one of the harshest acids. In my pre-natural days I tried it in a 10% strength and it completely irritated my skin. Naturally found in sugar cane. Make: Raw sugar and oil face scrub.

Lactic Acid: Found in yogurt and sour milk, lactic acid is a gentle exfoliant. Good for those with sensitive skin. Make: Full fat greek yogurt face mask or Buy: Amala Rejuvenating Serum

Citric Acid: A powerful acid that can be used to fade marks or discolorations, stimulate collagen and provide antioxidants to the skin. As I always find, the more powerful an ingredient, the more likely it is to irritate sensitive skin, so always patch test first. Although it may be tempting, I would not apply lemon juice to the skin. Buy: Ila Rainforest Renew Face Serum

Malic Acid: An acid that is only recently being used more due to its very gentle exfoliation properties. Found in apples and bananas. Make: Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Beta Hydroxy Acids

Salicylic Acid: Primarily used for the treatment of breakouts. Usually found at concentrations of 1-2%. Synthetic salicylic acid is most commonly used in drugstore products, which can lead to irritation. When used in its most natural form as Willow Bark Extract, it can be used to clear up breakouts and renew cell turnover without irritating sensitive skins. Buy: Amala Purifying Blemish Treatment

Fatty Acids

Lauric Acid: Found in coconut oil, this naturally occuring acid has antibacterial properties so is good for breakouts, as well as being able to protect skin against free radicals. Helps sooth the skin of eczema sufferers (like me!) Use: Coconut Oil as a moisturizer

Which acids have you found most beneficial? What are your favorite products or natural remedies with acid?

M. :)

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