Acids for the skin: guide to the different types of skincare acids

applicazione peeling acido glicolico su pelle del viso

Acids for the skin are making more and more space in the skincare routine of the stars and not only: but how to choose and use them?

Acids for the skin, as we know, are effective in combating blemishes, discoloration, first wrinkles, scars, signs of acne and aging. They are ideal for regenerating the skin and are among the most loved skincare products of the stars, because they are used to treat numerous problems, giving the face a more even complexion and an improved skin tone, more turgid, soft, compact and luminous.

However, using them is not so immediate, you have to pay attention to their application and how they are combined. Only a correct mix, in fact, really brings benefits to the skin and, if used incorrectly, could on the contrary irritate it and worsen the situation. A distinction, then, must be made between cosmetics used at home that contain lower percentages and acid-based treatments made by expert and competent hands, such as peels, which involve much higher percentages.

Before going into the discovery of the various types of acids, we can make a first major classification in alpha-hydroxy acids or AHA and beta-hydroxy acids or BHA. The former include the well-known glycolic acid, mandelic acid and lactic acid, they usually derive from fruit and act mainly on the most superficial layer of the skin while BHAs, such as salicylic acid, act deeper and are soluble in oil.

application of glycolic acid peeling on face skin


  • Glycolic acid, the ally for smooth skin
  • Mandelic acid, the most delicate
  • Lactic acid, friend of sensitive and reactive skin
  • Salicylic Acid, the choice for oily and impure skin
  • Hyaluronic acid, the holy grail of hydration
  • Retinoic acid and retinol, powerful anti-aging but not only

Glycolic acid, the ally for smooth skin

Glycolic acid is perhaps the most used skin acid when it comes to exfoliation because it is present in many tonics that have become famous online and thanks to social media. It is derived from sugar cane and is effective for cell renewal, eliminates dead cells and gives the complexion a bright, healthy and even complexion. It helps to smooth and improve the skin texture, reducing the appearance of dilated pores and even blackheads.

Jennifer Lopez is a big fan of glycolic acid as well as Angelina Jolie, because it is also effective on skin spots to lighten or remove them. In fact, it is one of the basic ingredients of chemical peels made by dermatologists, who use a much higher concentration. For daily use at home, for example in serums, creams or tonics, the percentage is around 4%, well tolerated by the skin without being irritated.

Collistar Glycolic Acid bottle

Try: Collistar Pure Active Glycolic Acid Perfect Skin Peeling is a serum to be used preferably in the evening. Apply two drops to cleansed face and neck for at least four consecutive weeks, for a luminous complexion, a refined skin texture and a more toned and compact face. Buy it on Amazon.

Mandelic acid, the most delicate

Mandelic acid, together with lactic acid, is more delicate and allows you to perform peeling even on more sensitive skin or skin that tends to get easily irritated. Belen Rodriguez revealed on social media that she uses it on a weekly basis because it improves the appearance of skin blemishes and also tone and firmness, reducing wrinkles and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. It is extracted from bitter almonds and is also used to treat acne thanks to its antibacterial and lightening properties, to reduce scars.

Unlike glycolic acid, it is not photosensitizing, meaning that with sun exposure it does not risk staining the skin. It is therefore easy to find it both as an ingredient in professional treatments and at home, in creams and serums, to treat mild acne and in anti-aging products.

woman performs mandelic acid treatment at home

Lactic acid, friend of sensitive and reactive skin

Lactic acid has properties similar to mandelic acid and, like this one, is more delicate than glycolic. Also in this case it is used for its exfoliating and lightening action but also a disinfectant function that makes it effective in regulating the PH of the skin to protect it from the aggression of fungi and bacteria. In addition, it is perfect for eliminating dead cells, giving the complexion a luminous, fresh and plumped appearance, without reddening or attacking it. It is ideal for sensitive and reactive skin but which still want to promote cell turnover and reduce the signs of aging.

Smooth skin after lactic acid peeling sensitive and reactive skin

Salicylic Acid, the choice for oily and impure skin

Salicylic acid is the most chosen acid to treat oily and impure skin, but good results are also obtained on combination skin. It regulates the production of sebum, is effective in cleaning the skin by eliminating blackheads and at a medical level it is used in high concentrations to eliminate accumulations of keratin that clog pores.

Cosmetic solutions to be used at home daily or occasionally have lower and well tolerated concentrations, although on sensitive skin it is better to limit their use. With a smoothing and lightening effect, it is Jessica Alba's favorite because the skin appears more compact, the grain is refined and significantly reduces the appearance of pimples and blackheads, even in the case of acne. But pay attention to do it yourself, for diseases like this it is always better to listen to the words of an expert dermatologist.

Salicylic acid peeling treatment for oily and impure skin

Hyaluronic acid, the holy grail of hydration

It does not look like an acid because, compared to the others, it does not pinch or irritate the skin: hyaluronic acid has now entered the common imagination thanks to the plumping and smoothing "dots". If one of its uses is by injection, with the filling effect of wrinkles and to balance the volumes of the face, for example of the nose, chin or lips, in reality it is also commonly used as a serum, to be applied directly to the skin.

It is a powerful moisturizer and elasticizer because it has a hydro-regulating action, retains water ensuring water reserves so that the skin is never dehydrated. It also adapts to all skin types, helping to maintain an optimal and constant degree of hydration for both particularly dry, combination or oily skin. The complexion thus appears brighter and the skin tone more turgid and plumped.

FaceD Pure Plump HA4 Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating hyaluronic acid

Must try: Pure Plump HA4 Hyaluronic Acid Face D is a 4 molecular weight hyaluronic acid serum that hydrates the skin for an immediate plump effect. It counteracts oxidative stress, is anti-aging and enriched with niacinamide and provitamin B5. Buy it on Amazon.

Retinoic acid and retinol, powerful anti-aging but not only

When we talk about anti-aging treatments we often hear about retinol not to be confused with retinoic acid. They are both derivatives of vitamin A but the first is what we find in cosmetics for daily and domestic use, while the second is a real acid. Retinol is used in a lower percentage, up to a maximum of 1 or 2%, otherwise we are talking about retinoic acid, with a more powerful action and used in the medical field with a lot of prescription.

Retinoic acid and retinol are usually recommended for mature skin because they stimulate the production of collagen, have an anti-wrinkle action by filling and plumping them and stimulating the elasticity of the skin. But it doesn't stop there: they are also effective for those with acne problems because with their sebum-regulating action, they help reduce and eliminate scars and smooth the skin texture and the appearance of dilated pores.

retinol and retinoic acid on mature skin anti-wrinkle anti-aging effect

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Tag: Beauty

Category: Beauty
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