You have probably heard of skincare products that have ingredients with the word “Acid” in the title of the ingredient name. There are several types of acids used in skincare. Below we will go over some of the various types of acids (common and uncommon) that are used in skincare and the benefits.
Acid Types: AHA, BHA, & HA
The acids below can be classified as AHA, BHA, and HA. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, and BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits. They help peel away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may generate and take their place. After use, you’ll likely notice that your skin is smoother to the touch. On the other hand, BHAs are oil-soluble. Unlike AHAs, BHAs can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. Most Acids are classified under AHA or BHA. Hyaluronic Acid, which we will go over below is classified as an HA. HAs helps with moisturizing and lubricating the skin.
Lactic acid is a naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acid (referred to as AHA) produced by fermentation of milk. It is the alpha hydroxy acid most frequently used for peel skincare products. Lactic acid is being used to rejuvenate the skin by encouraging the shedding of old surface skin cells. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines, irregular pigmentation, age spots & decreases enlarged pores. Lactic acid is a good choice for first-time peel users or for those with sensitive skin. Also often used in creams & lotions at a lower concentration for a more gentle acid-based peel.
One of the most popular acids, Hyaluronic acid (HA) is one unbranched molecule chain made up of sugar units. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polymer that plays a very important role in our biology. This acid is present in the connective tissue of animals and is responsible for hydration, communicating with cells, wound healing and scars. When skin is exposed to excessive UVB rays, it becomes inflamed and the cells in the dermis stop producing as much hyaluronan as they normally would and increase the rate of its degradation. Hyaluronic acid has a variety of uses. Many people take it as a supplement, but in skincare, it is also used in topical serums, moisturizers, and lotions as it works extremely well to moisturize the skin.
Ferulic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, an organic compound. It is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell walls. Ferulic acid is reactive toward free radicals associated with UV damage.
Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy acid used to adjust the acidity or promote skin peeling and re-growth in the case of anti-aging products. Citric acid is naturally found in citric fruits and juices, providing the characteristic acidic taste. Citric Acid is used as a chelating agent, fragrance ingredient, ph adjuster and is also commonly used as an active ingredient in chemical skin peels.
Found in grains, Azelaic Acid is produced naturally by yeast that lives on normal skin, found in wheat, rye, and barley. It brightens the skin tone while visibly improving the evenness of skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes. It is a multi-functional support ingredient for all skin types and also acts as an effective antioxidant. This formula offers a very high 10% concentration of high-purity Azelaic Acid in a lightweight cream-gel system.
It is a precursor to diverse industrial products including polymers and plasticizers, as well as being a component of a number of hair and skin conditioners. Azelaic acid is used to treat mild to moderate acne, used as a topical treatment for rosacea, and treatment of skin pigmentation.
Phytic acid, popularly known as phytate is an AHA that is derived from the cereal seeds, fruit seeds and bran of natural plants. Phytic acid is a naturally occurring Alpha-Hydroxy Acid whose range of application extends from skin moisturizing, wrinkle reduction to chemical peels. They act by inducing exfoliation in our skin and accelerating the natural skin cell rejuvenation cycle. The peeling action of Phytic acid has been described as similar in effect to the more popular Glycolic Acid, but does not need neutralization after application.
Tranexamic Acid is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine. More recently, dermatologists started using them to treat skin discoloration. There are a few studies confirming promising results for skin pigmentation, although no major studies have been conducted yet.
Acids for skincare have a variety of benefits for the skin. Depending on your formulation, types of products, and the goals of your product, you may or may not want to use certain acids in your product. For best results when creating a product, you will want to consult with a cosmetic chemist and even a dermatologist to determine what is best to include in your products.