Adding an acid toner to your skincare routine provides multiple benefits, but it can be difficult to know which acid is right for you. Depending on how your skin feels, it’s a good idea to mix acids in your routine. Use our Simple Guide to Acids to figure out what’s right for you.  

THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO ACIDS IN SKINCARE

 

PH

Let’s start by explaining skin pH. The skin’s acid mantle is a very fine slightly acidic film which protects the skin. This is the layer that we are constantly trying to keep balanced. pH measures how acidic the skin’s acid mantle is. Healthy skin is on the weakly acidic side of the pH scale (around 4-6). You will know that your skin has a balanced pH if it has a soft texture and no dry spots. Most reputable skincare products are pH-balanced, meaning that they are formulated with a pH that falls in the range of healthy skin. Using an acid toner (e.g. AHA, BHA or PHA) whose pH is in the acidic range is not a problem – the skin will re-adjust its pH within an hour of application and acidic substances stimulate the skin to produce key substances that it needs to look smooth and supple.  

Hyaluronic Acid

What is it?

Hyaluronic Acid is a carbohydrate found naturally in skin that keeps every aspect of the skin structurally stable and constantly renewed.

When should I use it?

Everyone should incorporate Hyaluronic Acid into their routine every day because as we age, the amount of HA present in the body diminishes. Incorporating hyaluronic acid into your skincare regime is therefore crucial to maintaining a youthful complexion.

What does it do?

Hyaluronic Acid has the capacity to attract and hold vast amounts of moisture. One single molecule of HA can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. In addition to retaining skin moisture, HA also facilitates collagen production, contributing to anti-ageing benefits for the skin. A good hyaluronic serum will instantly plump up the complexion and smooth fine lines and wrinkles.  

Glycolic Acid

What is it?

Glycolic Acid (most-commonly derived from sugar cane) is a member of the alpha-hydroxy (AHA) group of ‘skin-friendly’ acids. It is powerfully penetrative due to having a very small molecular size.

When should I use it?

At the correct concentrations, glycolic acid is good for virtually all skin types with the exception of those with diagnosed skin conditions, like rosacea. Its main function is as an exfoliant. Use glycolic acid when your skin looks dull and your skin tone appears uneven.

What does it do?

It works at the very top layer of the skin, breaking down the glue that holds dead skin cells together. The result is clearer pores, a brighter complexion and fresher-looking skin.  

Lactic Acid

What is it?

Lactic Acid is a naturally occurring carboxylic acid found in many foods. It is present in milk and according to legend, it’s the reason why Cleopatra bathed in this substance to keep her skin soft and beautiful.

When should I use it?

Lactic Acid is a sensitive skin hero, gentle enough for use on all skin types. It improves the skin’s natural moisture factor, or the means by which the skin keeps itself hydrated. Use a lactic acid toner when your skin feels dry and unbalanced.

What does it do?

Lactic Acid exfoliates the skin by sloughing away dead skin cells on the surface and hydrates skin by enhancing its ability to moisturise itself. Hyperpigmentation fades and fine lines and wrinkles diminish. The visible benefits are smoother, softer skin and a radiant complexion.  

Salicylic Acid

What is it?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark. It is more oil-soluble than the AHA acids which makes it highly penetrative. It penetrates deep into the pores of the skin to dissolve skin debris that clogs them.

When should I use it?

Use salicylic acid when you are experiencing blackheads, whiteheads and breakouts.

What does it do?

Salicylic Acid dissolves the type of skin debris that clogs pores and causes acne. It loosens and removes dead skin cells deep in the dermis and helps to dissolve blackheads.  

Top Tips!

Spritzing after toning calms, hydrates and rebalances the skin – and feels great. Just remember that in the case of hyaluronic acid only, it’s better to spritz first as hyaluronic acid will lock-in moisture from spritzing. AHAs and BHAs make you burn faster in the sun. Wear sunscreen while you’re using them and for at a least a week afterwards. Many people find that waiting a few minutes for hydroxy acids to sink in before applying other products gives better results.

The Beauty Editors at RSVP Magazine – that inspirational lifestyle edit for smart, confident, fashion forward women – have announced the Pestle & Mortar Exfoliate glycolic acid toner, as a WINNER in their Beauty Awards 2018. Hydrate has picked up the ”Best Liquid Exfoliator” award 2019 and we are brimming over with pride!

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In skincare, Acids equate to vitality. There are different types of acid, all with various functions and you do need to be aware of what is what, but when used correctly and in the right concentration, an Acid Toner is guaranteed to produce the following results:

1. Acids accelerate cell-turnover

Essentially, they act like a trip to the gym for your skin. An acid toner will stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, contributing to a robust and firm complexion.

2. Restores Radiance

Sometimes, something is just not quite right. You have cleansed and moisturised, but there’s something dull about the face that’s looking back at you in the mirror. Dull skin is a subtle yet damning skin complaint that arises when dead cells build up on the surface of the dermis. An acid toner will slough away dead cells, restoring the skin to glorious radiance.

3. Preps the Skin for other Products

A hidden benefit that is not to be underestimated. Because an Acid Toner exfoliates the surface of the skin, de-congesting pores and sloughing away dead skin cells, it hugely increases the penetration of subsequent products. Serums, spritzes, night oils and masks become more effective leading to skin that is brighter, cleaner and more luminous.

In short, incorporating an Acid Toner into your routine is a no-brainer. A great place to start is with a gentle alpha-hydroxy-acid such as glycolic acid, the holy grail of exfoliating acids which promises a complexion that is smooth, refined and brightened.

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Glycolic Acid is a skin-care ingredient that many people might shy away from, not least because it has the scary A-word in its name. However, it’s worth remembering that anything below pH 7 is classed as acidic and that includes skin, yoghurt and milk! Glycolic Acid is the most-studied of the alpha-hydroxy acids and is fast becoming a can’t- do- without ingredient amongst skincare experts. We’ve summarised everything you need to know about this super-exfoliator below:

 

  1. Glycolic Acid (most-commonly derived from sugar cane) is a member of the alpha-hydroxy AHA) group of ‘skin-friendly’ acids. Powerfully penetrative due to having a very small molecular size, most at-home treatments have concentrations of between 5 and 15%.
  2. The main function of glycolic acid in skincare is as a skin exfoliant. This super-penetrative molecule works primarily on the uppermost layer of the skin, breaking down the glue that holds dead skin cells together. The result is clearer pores, a brighter complexion and fresher-looking skin.
  3. Glycolic Acid in skincare is most effective at lower pH’s, but very low pH can increase the risk of irritation. Look for a glycolic toner with a pH of 3.5 and an acid concentration between 6% and 10%. This will ensure that your skin receives maximum benefits without the risk of irritation. The nice thing about glycolic acid is that at the correct concentrations, it’s good for virtually all skin types with the exception of those with extremely sensitive skin or diagnosed rocacea.

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