Should you be using an acid?

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Exfoliators have come a long way since the days of environmentally detrimental microbeads and skin-scouring apricot kernels. The buzz around the next generation of exfoliators, the acid exfoliant, is getting greater and greater and, here at LMB HQ, we are firmly on the acid bandwagon. The word ‘acid’ may sound intimidating, however everyone can and should be incorporating some form of exfoliating acid into their skincare routine.

Post by Ruth Halls

What are skincare acids?

There are two main groups of acids; AHAs and BHAs.

AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Glycolic acid and Lactic acid are most commonly used and are my favourites – glycolic resurfaces and stimulates collagen production, while lactic is great for dry or dehydrated skin. AHA’s are beneficial to all skin types, however with all new skincare products, they should be introduced to your routine slowly and with caution.

Then there are BHAs – the Beta Hydroxy Acids. Salicylic acid is the most common of BHAs and is used most widely for the treatment of acne and oily skins. Salicylic is surprisingly gentle, as opposed to other more aggressive acne treatments, however this can be drying so, as with AHAs, they should be introduced with caution.

How do I use acids?

Acid exfoliants can be found in all types of skincare, but most recently and most prominently through toners. Gone are the days of the ‘scented water’ toners, which in all honesty do very little for the skin. Now, acid toners are best used after cleansing to gently exfoliate and prep the skin for serums, moisturisers and oils to improve their absorbency and performance. Of course, acids can also be found in masks, cleansers, serums and oils, all with varying purposes and degrees of strength.

Why should I use acids?

Acids work a multitude of wonders on the skin.

Skin looks dull? Acids gently sweep away dead skin cells without the abrasive feeling of traditional scrubs, helping to brighten lackluster skin.

Fine lines appearing? The gentle resurfacing power of acids decrease the appearance of fine lines and stimulate collagen production.

Acne breakouts? Not only do acids prevent and treat breakouts (BHAs are key, here) but also fade scarring through resurfacing and regeneration of skin cells.

Dry, flaky skin? As with all exfoliators, acids gently tackle any textural issues and create a perfect canvas for the absorbance of serums and moisturisers. Skin looks hydrated, plumped and flake-free.

Any warnings?

As with all skincare, acids should be introduced slowly and carefully. It can be tempting to over use acid products, especially once we begin to see results, but this can have adverse effects and make the skin sore and irritated. Depending on the strength of the acid and the rest of your routine, aim to use an acid once a day, preferably at night.

Acids can also increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, so it is always advised to make sure you are wearing SPF during the day (as we all should be, anyway!) and to use acids during your bedtime routine, to allow skin to repair before direct sun exposure.

My Routine

My favourite way to incorporate acids into my skincare routine is through acid toners. My favourite is the cult P50 lotion from Biologique Recherche. This lotion is on the pricier end of the spectrum but is unrivalled in it ability to resurface my skin and fade old breakout scarring. A great alternative at a lower price point is the Pixi Glow Tonic, which suits all skin types and can be used up to twice daily. I also love the First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads for on-the-go glow.

When my skin is looking extra dull or I am suffering from textural issues, I reach for the Nude AHA Exfoliating Miracle Mask. Once or twice a week I will simply massage this mask over the skin for one minute, leave for five minutes, then rinse off to glowing, smoother than smooth skin.

Introducing acids to my skincare regime has totally transformed my skin. Gone are the days of a dry, flaky forehead, breakout scars that won’t fade and fine frown lines. I no longer use traditional exfoliators and instead reach for acids when my skin is in need of a little polish.