I can’t deny it. I LOVE acids. I use differing strengths and types every day. Apart from cleansing it is the one step that I think can make the most dramatic difference to your skin’s appearance and texture.
Basically, the primary function of using an acid is to slough away dead skin cells – exfoliating without the dreaded sea creature killing micro beads! However, they do so much more than that. Acids kick-start the creation of essential elastin and collagen, encourage the turnover of cells and help retain moisture – basically the holy grail of skincare.
I completely understand that the thought of putting acid on your face could strike fear into even the bravest soul. However, in skincare, acids can have the most amazing impact on your skin’s vitality and appearance. Think less school chemistry lab and more glowing beautiful skin.
What are they?
To the un-initiated of you an acid toner is not one of those “classic” floral toners that claim to tighten pores. Not that there is anything wrong with something that smells great and that you enjoy using (seriously I love a great fragranced facial mist more than the average girl) but, acid toners kick everything up a notch. They are a work out for your skin although most are applied in a very similar way using a cotton or pre-soaked pad and swept across the face.
Acids fall into three camps alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or poly hydroxyl acids (PHA).
Alpha-hydroxy acids are water-soluble that can work deep underneath the skin. They slough off the dead skin cells improving fine lines and dullness.
The most common are
· Glycolic – good for resurfacing and boosts collagen production
· Lactic – good for resurfacing and dehydrated/dry skin
· Malic – helps boost collagen production
Beta hydroxyl acids are lipid-soluble which means they can break down surface oil and work into any build up of sebum congestion . The most common is salicylic acid, which is great for those with oily or blemish prone skin.
Poly hydroxy acids function in much the same way as AHA’s but cause less irritation due to having a larger molecular size. They are particularly good for those with sensitive skin.
Where to start and what to expect
Most people have no negative reactions and the positive effects of acid toners are visible after the first few days.
However, as with any new skincare treatment I would suggest you proceed with a little caution.. Don’t go in all guns blazing – especially if this is something you have never tired before. Initially try only applying at night and only a couple of times a week. Some people experience tingling sensations or slight irritation/redness. This usually passes very quickly but, remember to listen to your skin. If something feels too much then reduce or stop use and find something lighter to try.
Keep in mind
Some acids can increase your sensitivity to sunlight (although recent research suggests it isn’t as great as it has been made out in the past!). Obviously using sunscreen in important but, if you are sensitive to light then make sure you are extra careful in your application.
High doses of salicylic acid in its oral form (aspirin) have been linked to birth defects and pregnancy complications. Although, there has been no research undertaken on its topical use some pregnant woman have opted not to use this acid.
The perfect mix
To get the greatest impact try mixing up your acid treatments to keep your skin cells on their toes! Try out a stronger one for evening, something lighter for the morning and a third to mix it up a little. Remember they all bring something different to the skincare party and I promise you that you will see a huge improvement whatever your skin concern.