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Do Ordinary Acids Really Cure Acne?


Do Acids Really Cure Acne? Can they remove pigmentation? 

acne scars

All about the most versatile beauty ingredient.

We begin a section in which we will talk in detail, reliably and not boringly about the main cosmetic ingredients. The first series contains acids.

Are acids something that renews the skin?

About Yes. Even if, in general, the skin is an organ of self-regulation and self-renewal. The epidermis is completely renewed in about 30 days: first, the cells of the basement membrane mature, then rise again and, finally, die and detach from the surface of the skin.

Sometimes for various reasons - age, hormonal imbalance, intense exposure to the sun - this process slows down. Then, keratosis occurs - a condition in which unexfoliated cells form a dense layer on the surface of the skin. Signs of keratosis are rough, dull skin, a mesh of fine wrinkles. In addition, dead horny cells clog the pores of the sebaceous and sweat glands, which creates a favorable environment for the development of acne.

Acids are used to regulate the skin renewal process.

What, these same acids dissolve dead cells?

Certainly not that way. They dissolve what is called the "intercellular cement" - a substance made up of proteins, lipids, natural moisturizing factor and other molecules that binds skin cells together. By dissolving it, the acids allow the cells to exfoliate.

Are acids useful in any other way?

The acids neutralize melanin, brightening and unifying the complexion.

“Thanks to acids, it is possible to stimulate fibroblasts to release collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, regulate and stimulate melanogenesis, and strengthen the microvascular network.

Christina Zyryanova, dermatologist at the Le Colon Cosmetology Institute, trainer at Biologique Recherche.

Certain small molecule acids (eg, glycolic) penetrate the epidermal barrier deeper into the dermis and stimulate fibroblasts to produce hyaluronic acid, collagen, elastin, and other proteins.

Acids are referred to by certain abbreviations - AHA, BHA and PHA. What are these letters?

Abbreviations AHA, BHA, PHA are short names of hydroxy acid groups.

AHAs - a-hydroxy acids (Alpha Hydroxy Acid), or fruit acids, are the largest group of cosmetic acids. The most common of them are glycolic, milk, almond. AHAs are soluble in water and not in fat, so they do not penetrate the pores (unlike BHAs described below). They are used as surface peels, in professional procedures and in home care products.

BHAs are beta-hydroxy acids. In cosmetics, only one type is used - salicylic acid (salicylic acid). It is best suited to oily skin: its molecule is liposoluble, so it penetrates the pores. Salicylic acid has antiseptic, antioxidant, keratolytic and anti-inflammatory properties, unclogs pores and reduces rashes.

For PHAs, include glucuronic and lactobionic acids. They differ from other acids by their large molecular size, so they act smoother and smoother than AHA and BHA. But they are suitable for sensitive skin.


Glycolic (glycolic acid) - has the smallest molecule. Used in professional peels (concentration up to 70%) and home care products. It is made from sugar cane. Effective in the treatment of acne, keratosis, anti-aging therapy, has moisturizing properties.

Lactic acid is a component of natural hydration factor (NMF) and is able to attract and retain moisture. Therefore, it is often used as part of moisturizers, less often as an independent peel. The lactic acid molecule is larger than the glycolic, so it acts more gently. Does not cause flaking.

Almond (mandelic acid) is one of the most delicate AHA acids. Ideal for sensitive and thin skin and skin showing signs of rosacea. Almond peels can be done in the summer without the risk of side effects when other types of acids are not recommended.

Citric acid (sitric acid) is used in combination with other acids for peels, whitens the skin and acts as a preservative. Usually included in home care products, not professional products.

Kojeic acid is a lightening component. Suppresses the synthesis of melanin, reduces the activity of the enzyme tyrosinase (it accelerates the production of melanin).

Azelaic acid - whitens, used in the treatment of acne.


Salicylic acid has a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effect, reduces the activity of sebaceous and sweat glands, penetrates pores and dissolves blackheads. Most often used for oily, dense skin with a tendency to seborrhea. Using it for other skin types is inconvenient.


PHA acids include gluconolactone, lactobionic and gluconic acids. PHA acids have large molecules, so they work on the surface, without penetrating the deep layers of the skin.

They work slowly and gradually, lowering the pH of the acid mantle. Considering these properties, PHA acids are a boon for dry and sensitive skin. In addition to a gentle and gentle cleansing, they stimulate collagen production, brighten, strengthen antioxidant protection and promote natural hydration of the dermis. Since PHA acids do not increase the sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet light, their use is also possible in summer.

The higher the concentration of acids, the better?

The concentration of acids in home remedies ranges from 0.5 to 20%. But the effectiveness is also influenced by the pH, which cannot be determined independently, and it is not indicated on the packages. It ranges from 0.6 to 3.5. The lower it is, the deeper the agent penetrates.

The choice of concentration depends first of all on the task: the lower the percentage, the more superficial the effect and the softer the effect.

In home remedies with AHA acids, the recommended concentration is up to 10%, with BHA - 1-2%, with PHA 2-15%.

So everyone needs acids? And when is it best not to use them?

Absolute contraindications to the use of any acid constitute a violation of the integrity of the skin and herpes in the acute stage.

Salicylic acid is not recommended during pregnancy because it crosses the placental barrier.

Children do not have a protective layer, so their skin is smooth and soft. But at the same time, it is sensitive and sensitive to external factors. The horny layer of the epidermis is formed during adolescence. Therefore, it is not recommended to use acids under the age of 18.

Are there any side effects?

Exposure to acid is a controlled burn. The severity and depth of this burn depends on the type of acid, the percentage of its concentration, and the time spent on the skin.

With incorrect selection of exposure parameters and incorrect assessment of the condition of the skin, a side effect can be a deep burning of the dermis - up to the third degree, when large blisters form.

Also, negative consequences can be expressed by the weakening of the protective functions of the epidermis, then the skin becomes reactive and sensitive. This leads to a decrease in vascular tone and rosacea. These side effects are mostly found in acids with a small molecule that can penetrate deep into the skin (eg, glycolic acid). The use of PHA acid rarely causes burns.

Side effects also include exacerbation of the rash, but this is part of the adaptive acid response. Among the side effects is the "gauze effect" - multiple atrophic scars caused by the uneven distribution of the layers of the skin after recovery.

Can you use acids all the time?

Acids have an active effect on the skin, to some extent - aggressive. But nothing else helps renew the epidermis as efficiently and quickly as acids. Therefore, it is worth using them regularly, but not constantly. The skin must be allowed time to regain its protective functions. For each type and condition of skin, its own frequency is adapted.

Do all acids burn?

Not all. Normally our skin is slightly acidic. And receptors in the dermis respond only to stimuli that clearly differ in their properties and characteristics from the natural environment. Therefore, a burning sensation is felt when using acids with a pH level <3, that is, much lower than the native human dermis at a pH of 4.7 to 5, 5. If the agent does not cause the receptors to react violently, this does not indicate its ineffectiveness.

What types of products may contain acids?

In all: in cleansing, tonic and tonic gels, compresses, creams, masks.

Should I use sunscreen if I use acidic products?

The top layer of the skin - keratin - is made up of exfoliated cells. It traps ultraviolet light and prevents it from penetrating deep into the epidermis, thus protecting the DNA of young cells from damage.

When we get rid of the keratin layer, all the lower layers are exposed and become more vulnerable. Therefore, the skin during this period should be protected especially carefully. And not just the sun - all the environmental factors.

I have never used acids and don't know where to start.

It depends on the type of skin you have and the problem you want to fix.

Here are a few examples you can focus on when choosing products with acids. And a few of our favorites.

Pigmentation - peeling with azelaic acid Regenerating Azelaic, 

Inflammation and oily skin - a cleansing tonic with salicylic acid , 

Wrinkles and loss of tone - Glycolic Acid Facial Toner Glycolic Solutions Toner, Peter 

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