I’ve been on an “acid trip” lately—that is, a skincare acid treatment. I find that my skin responds well to it. Acne is kept at bay, dark spots are lightened, and pores are refined for smoother skin.
You can integrate acids into every step of your skincare. Start slowly and in low amounts. Every two to three days, you can use something like the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. It has salicylic acid, glycolic acid and jojoba oil to combat dullness.
Votary’s Blemish Rescue Oil is the newest addition to my antiacne army. I like how calming it feels, as the salicylic acid is blended with tamanu oil, so you’re not left with a red spot as your pimple clears.
My favorite toners tend to have some kind of acid. After one week, I quickly became a fan of the COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. Since it’s a combination of various acids, it serves as an exfoliant. It left my skin a little smoother but without making it dry. I also liked how it didn’t have an overpowering scent.
At night, and when I need something a little extra, I use Pixi Skintreats Glow Peel Pads. With 20 percent glycolic acid, it’s what you need to get that “glass skin” look without makeup. The rosewater helps to cut the sting. Still, it’s a strong solution, so follow strictly the directions: Leave on the skin for three minutes, then wash off. Don’t forget your sunscreen in the morning, as your skin gets a little sensitive.
If you’ve reached a certain tolerance for skin acids, you can try The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. I use this only once every other week, because it’s that potent for me. It’s the mask I use when I’ve skipped a few nights’ worth of skincare routines. It looks like blood, so you can feel the extra revenge on everything that’s not good on your skin.
It can get a little confusing to familiarize yourselves with acids. I consulted a dermatologist, Czarina Pineda-Chavez, a diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society.
“Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are both naturally occurring organic acids that help exfoliate skin,” says Chavez. “AHAs, in addition, have moisturizing properties and are useful for those with dry skin. BHAs, meanwhile, can penetrate sebaceous glands, making them useful in addressing comedones.
“AHAs commonly found in skincare products include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. The only available BHA is salicylic acid.
“AHAs and BHAs can be found in over-the-counter skincare products in typically low concentrations.”
How often should you use these AHAs and BHAs? What are the regular precautions?
It depends on the skin type, the skincare needs and goals of each patient and the concentration of the AHA or BHA. In patients with oily and acne-prone skin, I usually add a facial wash with 2 percent salicylic acid, two or three times a week to their antiacne regimen.
Since exfoliation makes our skin more sensitive to the effects of sunlight, sun protection is a must. If you have very sensitive skin or if there is a need to use salicylic acid in large areas of the body, especially in children and elderly, consultation with a dermatologist is warranted.
For first time users, what are the friendlier AHAs and BHAs they can use in their skincare?
The “friendlier” acid is one that is tailored for an individual. For first-time users, starting at a low concentration and using the product initially twice or thrice a week will help decrease the chances of skin irritation.