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What acids are the best to look for in skincare products?

There are many acids to incorporate into your skincare routine. We suggest looking for hyaluronic acid (hydrator), lactic/glycolic/mandelic acids (alpha-hydroxy acids), salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy acid), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), retinoic acid (vitamin A), and ferulic acid (vitamin C stabilizer). Acids have long been known to help with all types of skincare issues, from acne to scarring, to complexion renewal and exfoliation.

How do acids help exfoliate the skin? Why is this beneficial?

AHAs are acids that are gentle superficial exfoliators that work to break up the connections between skin cells and facilitate superficial sloughing to reveal smooth, bright skin. This is beneficial in many ways including helping with fine lines and wrinkles, brightening the overall complexion, and maintaining the acidic nature of the skin so that other products (specifically a vitamin C product) are absorbed most efficiently.

What tips do you have for using acids, especially for someone who is new to them?

It depends on which acid you are talking about! There are so many. For AHA/BHA, use them every other night to start. They are best for more oily or combination skin types. If you have sensitive skin, use it every two or three nights to begin with. Alternate with a more gentle, conditioning face wash. The Soyier Skin collection has an amazing, organic AHA/BHA cleanser, Nettoyant Exfoliant. We recommend alternating that with the Conditioning Face Milk, Lait Demaquillant, which is a vitamin E, kale-based natural cleanser that does not strip the skin of any moisture. For ascorbic acid, use it every morning. Mélange Antioxydant by the Soyier Skin Collection is top-notch, with additional stabilizing and enhancing ingredients of vitamin E (tocopherol) and ferulic acid (these are REQUIRED—otherwise, just toss your money in the garbage can!). For retinoic acid, I recommend starting once a week at night, and gradually building up to every night. You can sandwich the product between moisturizers, and apply a nourishing oil afterward to minimize any potential irritation. It is important to always wear sunscreen during the day. Hyaluronic acid can be used morning and night, ideally after retinol application. 

How soon can you expect to see results when using an acid?

For AHA/BHAs, you will likely see results within a week. Skincare is a slow and steady way to achieve and maintain healthy, youthful skin. Acids are one of the quicker ways to achieve a brighter complexion almost immediately. For hyaluronic acid, you will see the instant result of intense hydration, with smoothing of superficial fine lines and wrinkles as well as an overall glowing and hydrated appearance. For vitamin C (ascorbic acid), you will see very quick results if the formulation includes vitamin E (tocopherol) and ferulic acid. This combination will protect your skin from free radicals and brighten the overall complexion. For retinoic acid, the results will take longer to see. Retinoic acid is THE most clinically studied ingredient for the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles, enhanced collagen production, enhanced blood vessel formation, prevention/reversal of precancers, and more. The longer you use a vitamin A derivative, the better your results will be.

How do acids in chemical peels differ from those in products?

The acids used in chemical peels can vary based on the peel that is used. The concentration of the specific acid is different from what you typically see in skincare products.

What are the differences between AHAs and BHAs?

Alpha hydroxy acids are acids that work on the skin’s surface. The major beta hydroxy acid of concern when it comes to the skin is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is lipophilic, meaning “oil-loving” and can penetrate into the pores of the skin, sop up oil, dirt, and debris, and crystalize there even though a face wash may be rinsed off. It is a very gentle, yet effective ingredient. Lavage d’Acne from the Soyier Skin Collection is a superb option. The salicylic-acid fortifying cleanser is gentle yet effective in diminishing oil production and pore size and preventing new acne breakouts without over-drying the skin.

What are the benefits of using the following acids:

  • Glycolic: Immediately brightens the complexion. This is the smallest AHA and is derived from sugar cane.
  • Salicylic: An ideal ingredient for acne-prone and sensitive/irritated skin. Without causing inflammation, this gentle ingredient gets into the pores, breaks up the dirt, oil, and grim, and allows the pores to shrink while preventing the inflammatory cycle of acne.
  • Lactic: One of the most gentle AHAs.
  • Hyaluronic: This is a powerhouse ingredient that is a must in any skincare routine. A multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid serum is ideal, with our favorite being Formule Jeunesse, a hyaluronic acid and niacinamide enriched powerhouse. Hyaluronic acid allows each skin cell to be hydrated and healthy, allowing for more efficient absorption of other skincare ingredients.
  • Ascorbic: This is vitamin C, which is amazing for lifting hyperpigmentation, protecting against free radicals in the environment, and overall brightening of the complexion.
  • Oleic: a natural omega 9 fatty acid that is often used to protect other ingredients (antioxidant) from degradation. It is very soothing to the skin and can be used as a cleanser or texture enhancer.
  • Phytic: a mild AHA acid that is used for gentle and superficial exfoliation. Great for an overall evening of skin tone and brightening.
  • Retinoic acid: The most clinically studied ingredient for the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles, enhanced collagen production, enhanced blood vessel formation, prevention/reversal of precancers, and more.
  • Linoleic: A building block for ceramides and essential for skin hydration. It helps fortify the skin’s moisture barrier and fight acne breakouts. A wonderful product from the Soyier Skin Collection is the safflower-seed-based anti-aging oil, Huile de Miel.
  • Ferulic acid: a plant-based antioxidant that is naturally found in many foods including oats, bran, rice, eggplant, and citrus. This acid boosts the effectiveness of antioxidants, including vitamin A, C, and E. Ferulic acid also increases the photoprotection of vitamin C. A beautiful and super effective product by the Soyier Skin Collection is Melange Antioxidant, a vitamin C, E, and ferulic enriched serum for antioxidant, anti-aging, and brightening of the skin.

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