- 1 / 15
Want Perfect Skin? Give Your Face a Hit of AcidThese acids are most likely to improve your complexion, no matter what your skin type. (Photo: Trunk Archive)
- 2 / 15
Try: Erno Laszlo Anti Blemish Beta Wash ($45)Salicylic Acid: Named as a gold standard active ingredient by Palm, this acid does wonders for those who suffer from brown hyperpigmentation left after a blemish has come and gone. “In office, we use peels with 20-30% salicylic acid to lift stains more quickly,” Palm notes, adding that similar results can be achieved with less concentrated formulas at home. The acid is also useful in cleansers as an acne fighter. “Just be sure you allow the ingredient to sit on the face for an appropriate period of time,” she says, suggesting washes that last three-to-five minutes.
- 3 / 15
Try: Le Metier de Beaute CHEM60 Pro-Peel ($185)Glycolic Acid: This multitasking anti-ager is a proven collagen booster, helping skin to reclaim structure and bounce. The alpha hydroxy acid is also a proven fighter of pigmentation caused by sun damage, such as sun freckles and melasma. Finally, it helps exfoliate the skin and increase glow without irritation that can come with textured exfoliating scrubs. “Because it’s a fruit acid and derived from a natural ingredient, it’s generally very well tolerated across skin types,” Palm says.
Yahoo News is better in the appStay in the know at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories
- 4 / 15
Try: Grown Alchemist Regenerating Night Cream: Neuro-Peptide & Violet Leaf Extract ($99)Hyaluronic Acid: This acid is touted as a hero ingredient for a reason: its molecules can hold 1000x their weight in water — the skincare equivalent of a human lifting a car. What does that mean for your complexion? Skin is better equipped to retaining moisture and outer layers are strengthened, creating a more hydrated and supple complexion. And since this acid is naturally found in the makeup of our skin, dermatologists like Tanzi deem it helpful for all skin types, particularly in moisture-sucking winter. Hyaluronic acid is best delivered in a cream or serum, she notes.
- 5 / 15
Try: Dermalogica C-12 Pure Bright Serum ($92)Phytic Acid: This under-the-radar antioxidant helps brighten skin and fight hyperpigmentation by, “blocking some of the iron and copper that can incorporate into melanin — which is one of the building blocks for producing pigment in the skin,” Palm explains. Unlike more commonly used hyperpigmentation fighters, this one is derived from seeds and plants, making it a good choice for naturopaths with melasma. Palm suggests incorporating this acid into a regimen with a serum. “If you live in a sunny climate, use in the morning in conjunction with or as substitute for vitamin C,” she offers. “The antioxidant will help oxidative damage that occurs when out in the sun.”
- 6 / 15
Try: Natura Bisse The Cure Pure Serum ($260)Lactic Acid: Tanzi considers this acid one of her all-stars: “I like lactic acid because it helps to gently slough dead skin and is a glycolic that even sensitive skin can use,” she says. And Palm loves lactic for its proven efficacy, noting its ability to help encourage new collagen growth, tackle hyperpigmentation and help retain the skin’s hydration over time. As for us, we like the bang we get for our buck — lactic acid is one of the few active ingredients in over-the-counter skin care that can be just as strong as when used in prescription-strength products.
- 7 / 15
Try: ZO Medical C-Bright 10% Vitamin C Serum ($90)Ascorbic acid (AKA Vitamin C): Heralded for its proven ability to help diminish brown spots, brighten overall complexions, and fight free radicals, this antioxidant can also help reduce inflammation in the skin. Tanzi suggests getting your daily C in the morning by applying a vitamin C-based serum in order to maximize its pollution-fighting power. One caveat: those with sensitive skin may not tolerate vitamin C-based products, so patch test before spending on a C-boosted product.
- 8 / 15
Try: Colbert MD Nourish Eye Cream ($125)Alpha Lipoic Acid (AKA Thioctic Acid): This moisturizing antioxidant comes from the same family as vitamin E and helps stabilize the fatty acids in our skin cell’s outer membranes. “It’s great for sensitive skin types who need a little more moisture and want to use an antioxidant in the morning,” notes Palm. “It may also be helpful for the sensitive skin around the eyes and those with rosacea because it’s anti inflammatory.”
- 9 / 15
Try: Verso Night Cream ($100)Retinoic Acid (AKA Vitamin A derivative): Non-prescription retinoids like retinoic acid may be less potent than by-prescription-only Retin A, but they’re also less irritating and better tolerated by more sensitive skin types. Tanzi recommends that normal, oily and combination skin types tap into this acid’s powers with a night cream geared to stimulate collagen and turn over skin cells.
- 10 / 15
Try: Carita Ideal Controle Powder Emulsion ($100)Oleanolic Acid: If given the choice between a skin care ingredient list containing olive oil or oleanolic acid, which would you choose? Many would go for the former, because it seems more natural. But oleanolic acid becomes significantly less scary when you consider this: it’s simply a fatty acid sourced from olive oil, offering skin hydration on top of anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits. For these reasons, Palm particularly likes this acid worked into soothing creams for those who suffer rosacea and acne and like to take a natural approach to skin care.
Yahoo News is better in the appStay in the know at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories
- 11 / 15
Try: True Nature Botanicals Pacific Soothing Face Oil ($110)Linoleic Acid (Aka Vitamin F): The essential fatty acids within vitamin F are a critical part of our skin cell’s envelope, notes Palm, and “can be helpful in maintaining the integrity of the skin cells.” Palm suggests using a face oil or cream made with this acid when treating wounded, acne-prone skin or post-surgical skin. Because linoleic acid may be too irritating for some, both Tanzi and Palm suggest spot treatment for those with sensitive skin.
- 12 / 15
Try: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic ($162)Ferulic Acid: When paired with Vitamin C, this antioxidant serves powerful antiaging action. As a Journal of Investigative Dermatology study found, some ferulic, vitamin C and vitamin E cocktails can double skin’s protection from sun damage, making Ferulic acid a key player in the preventative aging game. Serum is the best way to get your fix.
- 13 / 15
Try: VMV Hypoallergenics Illuminants+ Cream: Primary Brilliance Treatment ($95)Kojic acid: Hydroquinone can do a bang up job of reducing dark spots on the skin. But research showing that the substance is absorbed through the skin and raising questions about toxicity, fertility and other concerns, has made the proven skin lightener a controversial one. Enter Kojic Acid. This plant-based alpha-hydroxy acid is not known to yield the adverse effects that surround hydroquinone and is considered non-irritating for all but the most sensitive of skin.
- 14 / 15
Try: Clinique Turnaround Revitalizing Serum ($44)Polyhodroxy acid: This on-the-rise hydroxy acid may soon be as ubiquitous as our trusted alpha hydroxy acids. The exfoliant is similar to glycolic acid, Tanzi notes, in that it triggers skin cell turnover, which slows as we age. But polyhydroxys may be a better choice for those with sensitive skin; research has shown lactobionic acid (a polyhydroxy acid featured in the serum shown here) to be less irritating than glycolic acid.
- 15 / 15
Try: RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream ($18)Lauric acid: This fatty acid naturally found in coconut oil offers a gentle way to help fight acne, thanks to its antifungal and antibacterial properties. Get in on nature’s blemish-healing action by cleansing with coconut oil (if you don’t like the oily residue, follow by washing with your favorite cleanser) or using coconut oil as a moisturizer.
Acid on skin — sounds scary, no? Maybe we’ve seen too many celluloid torture scenes, but the combination is more likely to conjure a Joker-like burn victim than perfectly complexioned A-listers. Yet, the labels on our skin care products are positively loaded with acids of all kinds. Are these ingredients among the dubious additives we would do best to avoid? Not exactly.
While many acids are included in skin care to help thicken creams or help stabilize products, others serve as skin care power players, helping to better our complexions by exfoliating, fading dark spots, hydrating and more. So, which acids are best bets for enviable skin? We talked with Dr. Melanie Palm, a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at the George Washington Medical Center, to round up which acids are most likely to improve your complexion, no matter what your skin type.