The best skincare acids to include in your routine
Decoding the buzziest skincare ingredients
Just when you thought you had mastered skincare and finally understood terms like ‘non-comedogenic’, you hear of a slew of buzzworthy acids that have been known to transform skin. The formulations may seem complicated, but once you understand the basic science behind it, you can easily pick the right acid for your skincare needs. Skincare experts suggest that acids should be gradually introduced into the skincare routine—you can begin by using it every three days and gradually build up your usage to avoid making your skin over-sensitive. And always do a patch test to figure out the right kind of concentration.
Here’s our guide to the essential acids in skincare
This form of alpha-hydroxy acid is much gentler than most acids and is a proven anti-ageing agent. It’s a chemical exfoliant that tackles multiple concerns, like hyperpigmentation, large pores, spots and acne. You can start off by including a glycolic acid toner in your night skincare routine.
Part of the beta-hydroxy acid family, salicyclic acid is known for clarifying pores, which means it also helps other skincare products get absorbed into the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritated skin and reduce the chances of future breakouts. You’re most likely to find it in face washes, hair cleansers, toners and ‘oil-free’ mositurisers.
Known for its super hydrating powers, hyaluronic acid is one of the most non-threatening ingredients. Its naturally present in our bodies, but the reserves deplete as we age. When applied topically on skin, it helps the retain moisture that reduces fine lines, improves skin texture and even creates a gentle plumping effect. Look out for serums, face masks and moisturisers that list it as their key ingredient.
Mandelic acid: Exfoliant for pigmentation and sun damage
A gentler form of alpha-hydroxy acid (like glycolic acid), mandelic acid exfoliates skin and improves cell turnover. It’s very effective to treat fine lines, dullness, melasma and even acne (thanks to its anti-bacterial properties). It’s best used as part of your night skincare routine.
You’ve surely heard the benefits of applying yogurt to your face to improve your glow. The credit for this goes to the lactic acid in yogurt. Now several skincare formulations have harnessed the power of this moisturising exfoliator that tightens skin, cures breakouts and improves texture.
Photograph: Sushant Chhabria