Why it's time to revisit skincare acids

Given that the term sounds so counter-intuitive, you’d be forgiven for thinking that skincare acids would be a harmful thing as opposed to helping keep your skin in tip top condition.

And while they have taken something of a backseat in recent years in favour of newer ingredients, acids are once again in focus in the skincare world, gaining some serious traction with clever formulas and amped up benefits.

“Acids have always been around, but I think awareness is now increasing about how effective they are,” says GP and aesthetic doctor at Grace Belgravia, Dr Rabia Malik. “New formulations also allow for enhanced results with minimal downtime and irritation. Consumer demand for result-orientated products and treatments has also led to more product innovation.

“Alpha hydroxy acids in particular are known to work but the challenge has been to create formulations that are more user friendly and easy for consumers to incorporate into their daily routines.”

Dr Ravi Jain, cosmetic physician and aesthetic medicine specialist at the Riverbanks Clinic near Luton, agrees. “Acids are now smarter in the way they are delivered into the skin as the molecules are smaller,” he explains. “This means penetration is faster and with more even coverage.

“There are also now added ingredients that counteract some of the reactions previously associated with acids. For example, if you are using a retinal where you react with dry or flaky skin, there are moisturising agents that hydrate the skin whereas before, you would have to suffer. These help drastically with using the products.”

In fact, the latest formulations are so refined that they not only help smooth and brighten more effectively than ever, but will also do it gently.

“The protective barrier of our skin is called the acid mantle, therefore acids are extremely beneficial to keep our skin in healthy condition,” adds Jain. “In simple terms, our skin likes acids and benefits from it.

“Current formulations are so advanced that there is little or no downtime as they ‘peel’ the skin without even noticing it by process of micro-peeling, where the peel breaks down the proteins of the dead layer of the skin into tiny elements and then the skin sheds the dead layer much easier and quicker revealing fresher and newer skin underneath.”

So what can you expect for the addition of acids into your regime? With a host on offer, the key is teaming one with your own individual skincare concern. “The different types of acids you will notice in skincare products all have various benefits,” says aesthetic doctor Dr Maryam Zamani.

“For example, glycolic and lactic acids are wonderful exfoliants that are good for reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne. Retinoic acids are beneficial in boosting collagen production and hydrating the skin to make it plumper and more youthful-looking.”

For a first step into acids to simply freshen up the skin, try her MZ Cleanse & Clarify Dual Action AHA Cleanser & Mask, a cleanser and mask with AHAs to remove impurities and help hydrate the skin while gently exfoliating the dead cells.

Or if your complexion is more delicate, opt for Vichy Idealia Peeling, an overnight peel treatment in a light serum texture that includes glycolic acid to improve skin smoothness and lines as well as helping to refine pores.

Tom Ogden, European business manager at Alpha-H, advises further when choosing for anti-ageing benefits. “It depends entirely on your age, skin concern, skin type and lifestyle, but products with vitamin A in are particularly important whatever age you are as our skin’s retinoid reservoir is depleted on a daily basis by UV exposure,” he says.

“Topical application of vitamin A at night can help restore levels within hours. This guards against premature ageing and keep our skin’s whole metabolism at its optimum. Those with sun damage, pigmentation or age spots should use a glycolic product to smooth the complexion, lessen discolouration and restore lost radiance.”

Alpha-H’s cult Liquid Gold has been reworked as limited edition Alpha-H Liquid Gold Rose with the floral added ingredient to make the potent formula more delicate and better suited to dry or sensitive skins. Or for a serious blend of powerful exfoliating ingredients including glycolic, citric, malic and lactic acids, try Natura Bisse GlycoLine Glyco Peeling twice a week as a mask.

“Those with problematic oily skin, should consider adding salicylic-based products to their routine,” adds Ogden. “Not only will this beta hydroxy acid reduce congestion and breakouts, but it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties too, to reduce redness.”

Try Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, packed with salicylic acid to calm red blotchiness and tackle blocked pores.

Finally, what about hyaluronic acid, probably the hottest “acid” that’s currently popping up in single ingredient bottles on skincare shelves at the moment? “Hyaluronic acid is a bit of a misnomer because it is not an ‘acid’ in the typical sense,” says Malik.

“It’s a substance that is naturally occurring in the body and in the skin it acts to hold onto water, increasing levels of hydration when applied topically in serum or cream form.”

Make sure your skin benefits from this plumping complexion perfector with SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Intensifier or with Dr Sebagh Advanced Anti-Ageing Skincare Serum Repair.

With more than 250 stores, Westfield is the perfect place to update your skincare. For more information and to see a full list of stores visit westfield.com/uk