Why You Need To Put Acid On Your Skin

18 January 2018

When you first hear the word ‘acid’, you immediately think of a) the stuff you used in chemistry back in year 8, or b) the shit hippies put under their tongues for serious trips.
But acid isn’t scary at all, in fact, it’s one of the most effective ingredients you can find in skincare.
I don’t know about you, but the past few months of excessive drinking, sun, late nights, parties and canapes have wreaked absolute MAYEM on my skin, and a lot of my GFs are in the same boat. So unless you’re very rich with lots of money, you probs can’t afford an array of facials to fix the damage – but acid-based products are the next best thing, I promise.
Ok but firstly, let’s have a look at the different types of acid found in skincare and figure out what the devil they actually do.


Hyaluronic Acid

If you have dry or dehydrated skin (ūüôč), you really need to introduce HA into your skincare arsenal. Hyaluronic Acid is a¬†humectant, which means it sits on the surface of your skin, collects moisture out of the air, holds it, and delivers it into your skin to absorb for deep hydration. It can hold¬†1,000x its weight in moisture so you know it means serious business.¬†

Glycolic Acid

Derived from sugarcane, GA is an AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid), which means it gently dissolves dead skin without the abrasiveness of an exfoliating scrub. This encourages cellular turnover so your skin produces new cells, rebuilds collagen and elastin – leaving a clearer, brighter canvas to work with.

Lactic Acid

Another exfoliating AHA, Lactic Acid is even gentler than glycolic as it’s derived from milk. Milk is possibly the least scary thing you can put on your skin so it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin who are still looking to gain a clearer complexion.

Salicylic Acid

This fellow is a BHA (beta-hydroxy acid), which is a lot stronger than AHAs. Typically found in anti-acne formulas, it’s not for mature or dry skin and should be used sparingly. REALLY effective at clearing excess sebum (the shit that says hello to bacteria and gives you zits) and drying out those pimples who have already set up camp. SA is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory,¬† and exfoliating. It loosens dead skin cells to relieve clogged pores and blackheads; while reducing bacterial growth on the surface of the skin.

Citric Acid

Guess where CA comes from? LOL, obvs citrus fruits, you lemon (see what I did there).  Packing a serious punch on your mug with antioxidants, CA help skin rebuild collagen and encourage the growth of new, healthy cells.

L-Ascorbic Acid

AKA Vitamin C, the shit that makes your skin GLOW. Stellar at stellar at lifting darks spots and removing hyperpigmentation, LAA is found in a multitude of brightening prods on the market.

Retinoic Acid

AKA Vitamin A, retinoid etc – the heavy duty bad boy of acids. Not for the sensitive-skinned peeps amongst us, RA does all this:
  • Lightens up dark spots
  • Fights¬†photo-ageing from sun exposure
  • Exfoliates
  • Dissolves dead skin
  • Alleviates dullness
  • Clears up acne
  • Kick-starts collagen production
  • Fills out fine lines

TLDR: When you apply an acid-based product to your skin, it kinda just munches away on the surface, eating everything that shouldn’t really be there (spots, dryness, bacteria, dead skin etc), leaving fresh skin underneath. If you’ve ever popped makeup on and thought ‘yuck, texture’, or ‘why does my skin still look like shite’ – you probs need acid in your life.¬†


Ella Bache SpiruLines Eye Lifting Patches

Who else hates their fine lines around their eyes? I sure bloody well do. They’re not crows feet (yet), they’re mainly caused by dehydration. Popping these eye patches on when I’m feeling particularly¬†‘line-y’ works a dang treat as they’re packed full of¬†Hyaluronic¬†Acid,¬†so bring all the hydration to the line party.¬†

Jurlique Purity Specialist Treatment Mask

One for my more natural bishes,¬†This creamy clay mask is formulated with¬†Willow Bark Extract¬†–¬†a natural source of¬†Salicylic Acid to remove dead skin cells.¬† I’m a big fan of the peppermint extract as it’s very cooling and refreshing on my mug.

Endota Spa AHA Transformation Peel 

This 2 step, 14-day, spa-strength Glycolic Acid treatment (wow, that’s a mouthful),¬† combines a powerful exfoliation process with a highly nourishing wipe to help visibly reduce fine lines. It will even out skin tone and minimise the appearance of pores for instant radiance.

The high concentration of Salicylic Acid in this treatment cream is great for acne-prone skin. It’s best used as a spot treatment on any pesky spots that decide to play unwanted games on your skin.

A few years ago, this cleanser single-handedly cleared up my pals adult acne so I would recommend it 100% for those with really superficial acne (the ones that sit on the surface and don’t have ‘roots’). Formulated with Lactic Acid, it’s not too harsh and won’t cause irritation.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold

A cult must-have prod that’s been circulating the beauty cabinets of women all around the world for yonks now, the Glycolic Acid formula has been heralded as ‘life-changing’ by women in my life ranging from a 22yo to my Aunty in her 60s.

O Cosmedics Retinol Concentrate

My more mature lasses need the big player in their bathroom cabinet and that’s where Retinoic Acid formulas come out to play.¬†This prod has the highest allowable concentration of Retinol before a prescription is required (and from experience, they’re a bit too harsh).

Paula’s Choice¬†RESIST Hyaluronic Acid Booster

If your skin is dryer than the Sahara, you need to start slathering this serum into your skin on the reg. Rich in Hyaluronic Acid,  the concentrate replenishes the moisture content in your skin for a plump, supple, and noticeably smoother appearance.

Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant

Formulated with a few different AHAs (Lactic Acid as an example), this is one of the only physical exfoliants gentle enough to use every day.¬†¬†The advanced powder formula activates upon contact with water, which turns into a paste that will clean your pores like they’ve never been cleaned before.

Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum

Do you know how many women swear by this product to clear up hyperpigmentation? A lot. With a bomb-ass formula boasting both Lactic Acid AND Citric Acid, it literally seems to ‘lift’ darker spots, leaving bright AF skin underneath.

mesoestetic Anti-Ageing Glycolic Acid 10% + Vit E&F Ampoules

Ok so as the name suggests, these little ampoules are brimming with Glycolic Acid, which speeds up the natural skin shedding process while helping smooth superficial wrinkles. You basically just crack one per day and plop it onto your skin, massaging until it’s absorbed.

Ultraderm Absolute C Serum 

You can get this product formulated with either 10% or 20%  L-Ascorbic Acid, depending on the strength of your skin and damage.  I know it does a bunch of other great stuff but my fave thing about this particular acid is the radiance and brightness it gives your skin, you legit look slightly highlighted minus the makeup.

SkinCeuticals Antioxidant Lip Repair

Potentially (actually most probably) the most $$$ lip prod you’ll ever buy, this¬†Hyaluronic Acid infused chap is a MUST for anyone who suffers cracked, dry lips.

Ole Henriksen Instant Transformation Lemon Facial Peel

This powerfully potent peel loosens and lifts dead, dull surface skin cells to deliver instant results. After just one use, your skin looks fresher, healthy-looking and radiant AF. Boasting  Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, AND Citric Acid. it really packs a punch of powerful peel-y-ness.

Elucent Body Moisturiser 

Treat your rig to some of this acidic goodness, with a body lotion formula that’s bursting with Glycolic Acid. Body products are REALLY hard to find with the same beneficial ingredients you use on your face, so I highly recommend you hunt this bad boy down ASAP.

LAN√ĀTE Face Cream¬†

All my sensitive-skinned sisters rejoice, there’s now a chemical exfoliant on the market that WON’T irritate your skin! Oh and it’s super reasonably priced too.¬†The formula contains 17.5% ammonium lactate, which is the highest available concentration in Australia, but it’s derived from Lactic Acid, the gentlest AHA available, making it a fave among the sensitive folk. Ask about it at your nearest pharmacy.

Words by Kelly McCarren.