Get To Know Your Acids

When you think of the word “acid”, putting it on your skin is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Acids are actually some of the most beneficial ingredients available in skin care. They’re multi purpose tools used to fight acne, wrinkles, age spots, scarring, and uneven skin tone. It can seem overwhelming to remember which to use — and for what. So here’s a quick guide on what each acid does and what skin type would most benefit from using it.

Glycolic Acid (AHA*):

What It Does:

-exfoliates skin

-prevents acne

-fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation

-reduces fine lines and wrinkles

-evens out skin tone and texture

-increases skin thickness

Skin Types: 

All skin types

Great for those with wrinkles and fine lines!


Salicylic Acid (BHA):

What It Does :

-exfoliates skin

-unclogs pores

-treats breakouts

-reduces acne

-in high concentration can be used to treat acne scarring

-builds elastin and collagen

Skin Types:


Oily & Acne-prone skin


Azelaic acid:

What It Does: 

-kills acne-causing bacteria

-clears pores

-reduces skin inflammation

-fades dark marks

-lightens skin

Skin Types:

Oily & Acne-prone skin

Not suitable for sensitive skin types


Hyaluronic Acid: 

What It Does: 

-hydrates skin

-plumps skin

-locks in moisture

-holds 1000x its weight in water

Skin Types: 

All skin types

Best for dry and acne-prone skin that needs oil-free moisture.


L-Ascorbic Acid: 

What It Does:

-water-soluble form of vitamin C


-prevents UV damage

-fights free radicals

-stimulates collagen

-brightens skin tone

Skin Types:

All skin types

Best for uneven skin tone


Ferulic Acid:

What It Does:

-enhances retinols

-promotes healthy skin barrier

-prevents sun damage

-fights free radicals

-used in conjunction with vitamins C and E

Skin Types:

All skin types


Citric Acid (AHA) : 

What It Does: 

-encourages cell renewal process

-balances skin’s pH

Skin Types:

uneven skin tones

hyperpigmented skin

Not safe for sensitive skin types


Lactic Acid (AHA):

What It Does: What It Does:


-fades acne scarring

-encourages cell turnover

-naturally occurring in the skin

Skin Types:

All skin types


Note: The higher the concentration, the more likely the acid will irritate the skin. Always patch test and start with a lower concentration before moving up.

*AHAs that act as exfoliants, they also work to lighten uneven pigmentation and smooth out skin texture. Lactic acid is the best researched AHA after glycolic acid, and is notable for being gentler, more hydrating, and more effective at treating sun damaged skin. Avoid using AHAs with retinol.

Don’t use salicylic acid with any other acid at the same time. Extreme skin irritation may occur when mixed. Avoid mixing salicylic acid with products containig niacinamide.

Don’t use glycolic acid or lactic acid in combination with ascorbic acid.

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