My recent beauty routine involves more base ingredients sans the fancy names you encounter at the skincare store. There’s caffeine solution for my dark circles, niacinamide for dark spots, advanced retinoid for anti-aging. I never thought I would reach a certain level of geekiness when it comes to skincare. But here we are.
Acids have also become a part of my vocabulary. In most skincare products from sheet masks to facial serums, there is often a champion acid solution blended in If you’re a fan of Glamour‘s beauty director Alessandra Streinherr, you’ll notice how she loves hylauronic acid for moisture and during her facials after flights. There’s also AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy acids) that are popular with peeling solutions. There’s also the all-too familiar salicylic acid for pimples. Recently, I got into alpha lipoic acid, which has only been recently introduced as a topical solution to smoothen skin and to slow down wrinkles. If you want even more extra peeling, try products with lactic acid.
If you’re curious how these acids can help you, which ones to look out for depending on you skin types and overall want to be a beauty geek too, we consulted with dermatologist Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino, to strip down skin acids to the base.
What are the basic acids that your skin has? How do they help your skin stay healthy?
Our skin contains fat molecules called phospholipids that are broken down into fatty acids. These fatty acids play a role in protecting and strengthening the skin by preserving its integrity. They are also responsible for preventing trans epidermal water loss or the decrease in moisture of our skin. It also helps ward off infections by preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin.
used an alpha lipoic acid recently and it burns a little. Is that a good sign? Should I dilute it so it won’t be too harsh?
Topical alpha lipoic acid is slowly becoming popular due to its anti-aging properties. It is known to be less irritating compared to retinoic acid or alpha hydroxy acid. Diluting it may reduce its efficacy. Dermatologists usually suggest reducing the frequency of application and slowly building up your skin’s tolerance to a particular product that initially causes some irritation. If your skin is sensitive, using it every other night or just two to three times a week might help.
What should one be wary about when using acids on your skin?
If your skin is sensitive, avoid the areas on the corners of your nose and mouth [as] thin areas that easily get dry. Apply them at night because sun exposure may aggravate the irritation caused by these acids. Protect yourself from the sun by using a broad spectrum sunscreen. Follow the directions on the packaging of over the counter products or use them as instructed by your dermatologist. Hyaluronic acid is usually used as a moisturizing ingredient because of its ability to attract water into the skin. It doesn’t usually cause irritation.
What should one do after applying acids to the skin? Should you wash it off or put on moisturizer?
Acids are used on the skin for a specific purpose. It could be for anti aging to help reduce fine lines, improve the texture of the skin, or for pigmentation. Some people apply acids to control the oiliness of their skin and so it might defeat its purpose to apply a moisturizer right after.
Acids applied in higher concentrations should only be administered by dermatologists. Most over the counter products should be safe to use as directed in their packaging. If you know that your skin is sensitive, consult with a dermatologist before using these products. Just be careful. Different people, depending on their skin types may have different reactions to topical medications applied on their faces.
Is it better to use products like masks, serums, and creams blended with acids rather than pure solutions?
Every ingredient in a product should serve a purpose. Sometimes some ingredients used in combination will work better for some skin types. Other times, a more concentrated product is best suited for one’s skin type. It is really best to consult a dermatologist before using something specially on your face. What works for your friend may not necessarily work for you.
What’s the biggest no no when using acids?
Overdoing it. Applying it too often. Rubbing or scrubbing the area where you applied it and sun exposure without using sunscreen.