Common acids used within beauty & aesthetics

Common acids used within beauty and aesthetics



This is mega-moisturising ingredient is a humectant, which means it sits on the surface of your skin and grabs moisture out of the air, holds it, and delivers it to your skin to absorb for deep hydration.

The hyaluronic acid molecule can hold 1,000 times its weight in moisture!

It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines by plumping skin to fill out wrinkles. HA is good for restoring skin’s vitality and moisture!
Best For: Dry/dehydrated skin, treating fine lines



You’ve probably seen this ingredient featured in acne-fighting formulas, and with good reason!

Salicylic acid is a betaydroxyl acid (BHA) whose super powers are cleansing and unclogging pores by breaking up dead skin cells and loosening up blackheads. While salicylic acid is recommended for treating oily or acne-prone skin, it’s also a great spot treatment to zap blemishes for people with normal/combination skin.

Salicylic acid busts breakouts and blemishes by killing acne-causing bacteria. Plus, it’s an anti-inflammatory that calms and reduces swelling and redness from pesky pimples.

Salicylic acid-based cleansers and moisturizers are also recommended for treating keratosis pilaris (those little hard bumps that may pop up on your thighs or the back of your upper arms).

Best For: Oily, acne-prone skin, spot treating blemishes, keratosis pilaris

Facials: Aftercare advice



Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. It packs some serious antioxidant power to help fight free radicals. Free radical damage shows up in the form of wrinkles, sagging, and discoloration. Antioxidants help skin rebuild collagen and encourage the growth of new, healthy cells.

Best For: Fighting free radical damage, signs of aging



Glycolic acid gives skin a mild peeling and exfoliating effect and is derived from sugar.

Don’t let the word “peel” scare you. All this means is that the top layer of dead skin cells is gently removed. This encourages cellular turnover so your skin produces new cells and rebuilds collagen and elastin.

As a result, you’ll see:

  • A brighter complexion
  • Softer skin
  • Reduced wrinkles
  • More firm and supple skin
  • Fewer blemishes
  • Lightened dark spots

Best For: Anti-aging, dull skin, hyperpigmentation, blemishes



If you have sensitive skin that gets red or irritated at the mere thought of exfoliation, this ingredient is for you.

Lactic acid offers all the benefits of its glycolic sister but in a gentler, less-irritating formula. It effectively softens and improves skin’s texture, while smoothing away fine lines, but with a much milder exfoliation to stimulate cell turnover. You will still get a more even, youthful complexion but without the redness or discomfort of harsher formulas.

Best For: Sensitive skin, anti-aging, restoring suppleness

Facials: Aftercare advice



L-ascorbic acid, AKA vitamin C, is an antioxidant powerhouse that combats the effects of free radical damage.

It’s good at lifting darks spots and hyperpigmentation and helps skin rebuild collagen to smooth fine lines. For a potent formula, look for a vitamin C serum which will contain a higher concentration of L-ascorbic acid to deliver effective results.

Best For: Anti-aging, treating free radical damage, brightening dark spots

A good advertising technique some salons use to show the antioxidant powers of a product is the apple test. Everyone knows that an apple goes brown when exposed to the air, this is oxidisation.

Anti-oxidant/Vitamin C products can be place on one part of the apple to show the antioxidant abilities




Retinoic acid/ retinol

This vitamin A derivative is basically the poster child of anti-aging skincare because it does it all! First, it exfoliates and dissolves dead skin to help alleviate dullness and clear up acne. Second, it kick-starts collagen production to fill out fine lines and cellular turnover to give you a glowing complexion. It also lightens up dark spots and helps fight photo-aging from sun exposure and free radicals.

Note: This ingredient seriously does it all, but it has been known to cause irritation, so make sure to follow instructions. Also, it can make skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so I always recommend using retinol in your PM Skincare and applying SPF protection during the day.

Best For: Anti-aging, treating acne



If you’re looking to brighten dark spots, kojic acid is an awesome natural ingredient that will help get the job done.

It works to brighten and even your overall complexion by decreasing melanin (pigment) production. As dermatologist, Dr. Annie Chiu, explains, “[Kojic acid] inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that helps produce melanin.”

Best For: Treating dark spots, hyperpigmentation



This ingredient offers all of the exfoliating benefits and effects of alpha-hydroxy acids but is much gentler on the skin.

You’ll get all the magic of a brilliant, renewed complexion and collagen synthesis but through a milder process. This makes mandelic acid a go-to for those with sensitive skin.

Best For: Sensitive skin