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Acids in Skin Care - Are Acids Safe?

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Acids in Skin Care - Are Acids Safe?

Acids are everywhere in skin care these days. This is because of their ability to resurface the skin. However, are they safe to use daily?

Read on to find out more about the types of acids in your skincare products and how they affect your skins health.

Acids need to be used with caution as they are associated with chemical burns. Acids are used as chemical exfoliators for they slough away dead skin cells to leave you with a smoother, brighter complexion. But it’s important to know how each of the acids work and their side effects.

WARNING 

DO NOT layer products containing acids on your face or body willy-nilly. They can cause burns, damage or scaring if used incorrectly.

Understanding Acids in Skin Care

The first thing you should know is that there are two main types of Acids found in skin care products: alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Both classes of acids help exfoliate the skin, but they aren’t exactly the same. The main difference between these two types of acids is their chemical structure. The chemical structure affects how each type of acid penetrates the skin.

How Do AHA’s and BHA’S Work?

Alpha Hydroxy Acid or AHA’s are water-soluble and they exfoliate by breaking down the outer layers of dead skin cells.

Meanwhile, BHAs, like salicylic acid, are oil-soluble. BHA’s can penetrate deeper into pores. 

The most popular acids in skin care are salicylic, a BHA, and glycolic, an AHA. But there are many other acids in skin products which can be confusing and if used incorrectly they can have nasty results.

Be Cautious when Using Products containing Acids

Skin care experts claim that in our pursuit for the ‘perfect’ skin, many of us have begun to mistakenly misuse acids. 

“Overusing AHAs can leave the skin red raw, with possible burns, dryness and photosensitivity. This leads to premature-ageing, thinning of the skin, and hyperpigmentation.

 To avoid unsafe products, it's essential that you take advice from an expert before using acids or chemical peeling products on a regular basis. Do not overuse your acid-based products.  

Also be mindful of the other active ingredients (such as retinols and antioxidants) in your skincare products. Some of these ingredients can intensify the effects of some acids causing burning or scarring.

If choose to include AHAs in your routine, try to then avoid products containing vitamin C and retinol.  Allowing your skin to work with a single active ingredient at a time. This reduces the risk of overstimulation or adverse reactions. It is also important not to mix multiple acids as this can cause skin irritation. 

To provide some clarity and enable you to understand the labels on your products we have listed the main acids, their effects and side-effects

Salicylic Acid

What is it? 

Salicylic acid is BHA. It is good at penetrating deep into the pores, loosening dead skin cells and helping clear clogged pores and blackheads. Salicylic acid is also good at breaking apart the top layer of skin cells.  It is used as an acne treatment, because it can help break down pimples and comedones. However, it can cause skin discolouration and scaring.

Who should use it? 

Salicylic acid is useful for people with oily skin or who are acne-prone. Salicylic acid is a salicylate, which puts it in the same family as aspirin. If you are allergic to aspirin, you should avoid salicylic acid.

Glycolic Acid

What is it?

Glycolic acid, is an AHA. It’s a chemical exfoliant that breaks down and eliminates dead skin cells on the outer layer of the skin. This is meant to improve dullness, dry flaking skin, pigmentation and brightness of the skin.

Who should use it? 

Glycolic acid is beneficial in treating aging and dull complexion, however if your skin is sensitive, you should consult with a dermatologist before using products containing glycolic acid.

Those with darker skin tones, need to be cautious with glycolic acid. It can cause a paradoxical darkening of the skin by stimulating melanocytes in skin.

Lactic Acid 

What is it?

Lactic acid, another AHA, is gentler on the skin. It is a chemical exfoliator, used to smooth and brighten your skin. Lactic acid can be found in milk, which is why Cleopatra used to soak in milk baths. Organic Apoteke Buttermilk Cleanser uses whole Buttermilk powder which is rich in Lactic Acid and milk fat. Buttermilk powder exfoliates the skin without drying it out.

Who should use it?

Products with lactic acid are suitable for anyone looking to treat dry, pigmented or aging skin. It improves hydration and pigmentation. It can also be used to soften the little bumps some people get on the backs of their arms, known as keratosis pilaris. It helps dissolve millia or little whiteheads. Lactic acid brightens complexion and evens your skin tone. Lactic acid generally well-tolerated on most skin types. 

L-Ascorbic Acid

What is it? 

L-ascorbic acid is a derivative of vitamin C. It is most often used as an antioxidant on the skin, Antioxidants protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, stress hormones and environmental pollution. Free radicals can break down the skin’s collagen, causing discolouration and creating wrinkles.

Who should use it? 

People who are exposed to environmental pollutants. Use with caution on darker skin tones as it can cause hyperpigmentation.

L-ascorbic acid is among the most active types of vitamin C, which is notoriously unstable and loses efficacy over time. Vitamin C can be very unstable on exposure to light and can become essentially useless. Massage products like Organic Apoteke’s Rasàyana Rejuvenating Serum which are high in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants into the skin and use a moisturiser over this.

Ferulic Acid

What is it? 

Like vitamin C, ferulic acid is used as an antioxidant that helps fight the effects of free radical and oxidative damage.

Who should avoid it? 

Those with darker skin tones or those who use self-tanners need to use Ferulic acid with caution.

Malic, Citric, Mandelic, Tartaric Acids & Willow Bark Extract

Malic, citric, mandelic and tartaric acids are among the lesser-known AHAs in skin care and Willow Bark Extract is a lesser known BHA. They are used for the same purposes of other AHAs and BHAs.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t use acids? 

If you’ve got extremely inflamed, cracked, flaking or open skin – Do Not Use any Acid.

When skin is cracked or flaking, the skin barrier is open, which means products that would typically be well-tolerated could cause irritation.

Those with darker skin tones should approach acid use with caution to avoid any unwanted discoloration. 

Those who use self-tanning products should use acids with caution as the combination of self-tanning ingredients and acids can be cocarcinogenic.

A few more words of caution. 

Acids exfoliate the skin, which means they get rid of the outer layer of dead skin cells. This causes skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. So, if you have used any product containing acid -apply SPF 30 plus, broad spectrum (UVA plus UVB) sunscreen and reapply every two to four hours!

Additionally, acids shouldn’t burn or leave your face in pain. It’s normal to experience a slight tingle when the product is applied. If the product causes redness or stinging that does not settle in 30 minutes – it is best that you avoid the product.

It’s also always beneficial to consult with a dermatologist before trying new acid-based (skin care products, as they can help determine what will best suit your skin.

Safer Alternatives to Acids

Fruit and vegetable Enzymes exfoliate the skin by breaking down keratin - the dead protein in skin cells. Hence they are safer and gentler to use. Organic Apoteke products - Active Face Cleanse Gel, Active Face Hydrate Gel, Detox Face Mask use fruit enzymes to exfoliate skin, improve complexion and diminish scarring and spots.


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