The word acid may sound scary in relation to skincare. In reality, many acids actually enhance the skin’s function.  The following guide can help familiarize you with the most common types of acids and how they work. So, get ready to glow throughout the winter months.  

Ascorbic Acid - This is also commonly known as Vitamin C, which is effective in anti-aging.  As an antioxidant, it protects your skin from environmental assaults like pollution and helps stimulate collagen production.  When formulated and packaged properly, it has the ability to be powerful. However, it can easily be unstable when exposed to light. 

Azelaic Acid - Derived from yeast, this acid is great for targeting dark spots and effective for treating melasma (a condition marked by dark patches of skin), which is triggered by sun exposure during pregnancy.  Azelaic acid is more than an exfoliator. It also interrupts the pigment process in the skin, inhibiting tyrosinase, which is involved in melanin production. As pigmentation decreases, discoloration disappears over time.  If you have rosacea, your dermatologist may also recommend topically treating with azelaic, as it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory which decreases swelling and redness.  

Ellagic Acid - This compound is derived from berries, pomegranate, or nuts, and is known for skin brightening. In fact, a study showed that 0.5 percent ellagic acid combined with 0.1 percent salicylic acid was as effective as 4 percent hydroquinone, which is known to reduce pigmentation.  Although hydroquinone has been the gold standard for eliminating dark spots, it also causes side effects like irritation and dryness, so many people want a more natural and effective option like ellagic acid.

Ferulic Acid - This acid pairs well with Vitamin C and serves to stabilize it.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant, a substance that protects the skin from free radicals, which are the molecules that damage skin cells and contribute to aging. As we know, antioxidants are always looking for free radicals, which can be found everywhere. The problem is that as soon as they’re in contact with pollution or UV light, they immediately oxidize, which renders them ineffective from the very first time you open the bottle.  That’s where ferulic acid comes into play, because it actually acts as a stabilizing agent. 

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) - This ingredient is commonly found in moisturizers and anti-aging creams, since it’s known for skin smoothing properties. HA is a natural and effective component of skin, which draws water from the environment and can trap 1,000 times its weight in water.  When applied, this ingredient plumps up the outer layer of the skin to soften lines and enhance glow.  Because it’s too long of a molecule to reach the dermis (bottom layer of skin), it does not stimulate collagen production. 

Kojic Acid - Fungus fermentation produces kojic acid. This acid inhibits tyrosinase, which is responsible for melanin production (the skin’s pigmentation). It’s usually added to products that claim to brighten skin and rev up its radiance, but is not as effective as hydroquinone.

Salicylic Acid -  You may be familiar with salicylic acid as an acne fighter. Salicylic acid exfoliates the outer layer of skin. Because it’s lipid-soluble, it can also penetrate the pores, where it helps get rid of debris and buildup.  It is used to unclog pores, thus preventing breakouts and helping keep blemishes at bay.

Although acids can be quite effective for revitalizing your skin, they can also make your skin sun sensitive. It is therefore important to incorporate a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your complexion.


Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.

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