Acid is not something one associates easily with skincare and there is so much buzz about Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy acids. What are they and why are they almost worshipped as superheroes of anti-ageing defence?
Facial acids, AHA’s and BHA as they are called are a group of naturally occurring and synthetically formulated organic acids. Because of their ability to dissolve dead and dull cells from the uppermost layer of skin to reveal a fresher, more even-toned younger-looking skin; anti-ageing skincare regimen almost always includes a product or a treatment containing them. The difference between AHA and BHA is in the molecular structure - AHA is more water-soluble while BHA is more oil-soluble making it a favourite ingredient in combating acne.
Here are a few AHAs that you have most likely come across many times.
Glycolic acid: This is considered to be the superstar of AHA’s because of its bioavailability. What this essentially means is that glycolic acid has molecules small enough to be able to penetrate into the skin easily and work its magic with removing scars, blemishes, uneven skin tone, discolouration, fine lines and wrinkles. It loosens up the topmost layer of the skin by breaking the protein bonds between them, causing it to “peel” and brighter and younger-looking skin is revealed. There are glycolic acid face cleansers, serums, peels and creams available in the market. The effectiveness depends on the concentration levels in the products. All skin types can use glycolic acid for its skin renewal and pH balancing properties. However, it is recommended to start with a product with a lower concentration and slowly build up from there to avoid irritating your skin.
Lactic Acid: Egyptian queen Cleopatra's famed milk baths give a clue into the benefits that come from lactic acid. While glycolic acid is an all-rounder for performance in skin renewal, lactic acid is a milder exfoliant as it does not seep into the skin as deep and quick. If you have dry or sensitive skin, then lactic acid would be your go-to AHA. It loosens up dead cells at the topmost surface of the skin-boosting collagen production, softening the skin and fading dark spots and blemishes that aren’t too deep.
Citric Acid: This been universally used in many cleansers, toners, soaps and moisturisers to balance the pH and enhance skin softness and brightness.
L ascorbic acid: This is most definitely the celebrity of the AHAs for its collagen-boosting abilities. L Ascorbic acid is nothing but Vitamin C, a well known and powerful antioxidant that fights damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C when offered in a stable form at an optimal concentration in topical applications, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and crow’s feet, remove dark spots and hyperpigmentation, boosts collagen production in the ageing skin, even out skin texture and get rid of sun damage.
Other AHAs: Other that is used in anti-ageing products are Kojic acid, Tartaric Acid, Ferulic Acid and Mandelic Acid. They all provide the same benefits but are milder in comparison because of their larger molecular size and slower penetration into the skin without causing it irritation. A combination of these AHAs in varying concentration may be used to target different concerns existing in different layers of the skin.
Salicylic Acid – BHA
Salicylic Acid is more oil-soluble than water-soluble and it can cut through the oil on the skin and gives a thorough deep clean to clogged pores, easing out blackheads and calming down the inflammation. Salicylic acid also helps in slowing down sebum secretion and reduces the appearance of large pores, a boon for people with oily skin.
Hyaluronic acid is used for its moisture-binding ability. Each molecule of HA is capable of holding water up to 1000 times its weight. When applied to the skin, it attracts and holds moisture making the skin soft and supple, relieving dryness, making the skin firm and plumped up. Fine lines and wrinkles appear smoothened out as the skin looks hydrated and young. Our body produces enough hyaluronic acid when it's younger but with age, this dips giving way for skin to wrinkle and fold. The best part is that this natural loss can be compensated by simply applying hyaluronic acid to the skin.
Find these facial acids here Himalayan Kusuma Oil, Swiss Uttwiler Apple, Indus Valley Cow Ghee day & Night cream, Yellow river-sea buckthorn facial tonique, Australian tea tree facial tonique, Indus Valley Yashada Dust sun veil cream (both types)