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What Are Exfoliating Acids & Why Should You Use Them?

Writer and expert6 years ago
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Exfoliating acids are undoubtedly the warriors of the skincare world. Depending on which you go for, they have the ability to refine, resurface, hydrate and clear your complexion, in turn giving it a bit of an overhaul.

There's pretty much an acid to solve any skin concern you're up against, whether you opt for something containing salicylic to target congestion or glycolic to help brighten. The first step is getting to know the difference between your AHA, BHA and PHA exfoliants, so here's a little guide to help you on your way...

AHAs Key AHAs to look out for: glycolic, citric, mandelic, malic, tartaric and lactic.Best for: reducing lines and wrinklesAHAs are natural and can be found in numerous fruits, as well as sugar cane and sour milk, of all things! They're water soluble, meaning they don't penetrate deep beneath the surface of your skin. They work their magic to exfoliate your skin, stimulate collagen and overall, help repair dry, sun-damaged and ageing skin.

Enriched with 2% pure glycolic acid, NIP+FAB's nifty double-sided Glycolic Fix Foaming Pads, £14.95, gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin, lifting away dirt, oil and impurities without drying your complexion out. If you want to up the ante a little more, Murad Rapid Resurfacing Peel, £35, contains a powerful blend of 10% glycolic, alongside a decent dose of vitamin c, in a bid to leave your complexion healthy and glowing by retexturising the skin and enhancing radiance.

BHAs Key BHAs to look out for: there's only one - salicylic.Best for: oily and/or blemish-prone skinUnlike AHAs, BHAs are oil soluble instead of water soluble, meaning they can penetrate deep down into the pores and in turn, help clear out any oil that's clogging them - which is precisely why anything with salicylic in is a complete and utter dream for blemish-prone skin. What's more, they have a number of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which will again help deter spots. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, £3.90, helps to exfoliate and in turn empty pores to fight the appearance of spots, over time leaving your skin clearer and happier.

PHAs Key PHAs to look out for: gluconolactone, lactobionic and maltobionicBest for: sensitive or dehydrated skinIf you're skin is on the sensitive side, then PHAs are the one for you. You see, they have a larger molecular size and are slower to penetrate, so go a bit easier on your complexion while being ideal for keeping dehydrated skin in check.


Writer and expert
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