With copious amount of skin acids in our arsenal and & an intriguing urge to try every one of them, we often tend to land in a guilt trip with some unfriendly repercussions to our skin. Wanna know why? Just like how our gut gets upset when we consume some foods which are not easily digestible, our skin also tends to break out and show signs of inflammation when dealt with a harsh or an acid not suitable to us. Are you wondering how to analyse your skin type and which acid would suit you the best? Follow along as we have delved into the skin acid sphere with Dr Saloni Vora-Gala, Consultant clinical and aesthetic dermatologist, Dr Sheth’s skin and hair clinic, Mumbai which covers everything - from discerning your skin type, various skin acids and their benefits and suitability to our skin to treat skin issues.
STEP 1 to choosing any skin acid is to know your skin type. Trust me our skin type might not always be what we think it is. Want to know the best way to analyse your skin type? Dr. Saloni suggests the following method to know your skin type yourself at home -
Cleanse your face with a gentle soap-free, fragrance-free cleanser, pat it dry and leave it naked for 2 hours. After 2 hours, stand in front of a mirror and examine your skin by looking at it as well as feeling it with your fingers and observe the following:
Oily skin: looks greasy, oily, dull, feels sticky
Dry skin: feels stretchy, looks flaky and lustreless
Combination skin: T-zone oily, rest area dry to normal or vice-versa
Normal skin: neither too oily nor too dry, even toned, glowing
Sensitive skin: feels stingy, stretchy, looks red and flaky
Acne-prone skin: black and whiteheads, red bumps, pus filled bumps
Another step to choose the best acid for the skin is to scrutinise the skin acid itself. “There are multiple acids available with different actions on skin and for varied purposes like anti-acne, anti-pigmentation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, hydration and so much more.” states Dr. Saloni as she solves our skin acid dilemma with their distinguished benefits -
HYALURONIC ACID –
It is a polysaccharide which is naturally present in our skin as well. This molecule has the capacity to attract and hold moisture from the environment as well as deeper skin layers keeping the skin well hydrated, soft, plump, smooth, firm and glowing. It is a part of various moisturising products.
AZELAIC ACID –
This has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-pigment properties making it useful for skin conditions like acne, rosacea and uneven skin tone. It is also said to have some anti-aging properties that help prevent fine lines.
RETINOIC ACID –
Retinoic acid or retinoids is an umbrella term consisting of various molecules of this particular vitamin A derived acid in varying concentrations. It increases the skin cell turnover, thus, helping with acne, pigmentation, preventing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles, new collagen synthesis, and texture improvement. This particular acid can be tricky to use and best used under guidance of a dermatologist.
GLYCOLIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, MANDELIC ACID –
These belong to a group called alpha hydroxy acids and help with acne, pigmentation, texture improvement, brightness by increasing cell turnover, unclogging pores, reducing the activity of pigment cells and building new collagen. Regular usage may also prevent fine lines.
SALICYLIC ACID –
This is a beta hydroxy acid that works by unclogging pores, reducing oil gland activity and increasing skin cell turnover, thereby, useful for acne-prone skin including blackhead and whitehead removal, oil control and texture improvement.
This has properties like anti-inflammation, antioxidant, anti-pigmentation and helps to a great extent with acne, pigmentation, skin brightening, rosacea, and anti-ageing.
VITAMIN C –
This is an antioxidant powerhouse with multiple benefits like elimination of free radicals, reducing inflammation, new collagen production, sun-protection, anti-aging, anti-pigmentation.
FERULIC ACID –
This is a potent antioxidant which helps in reducing inflammation and pigmentation.
Now that we know the factors that would help us discern our skin type and types of skin acids, let us know the benefits of these skin acids to treat common skin issues like acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines and the best suitable acid for dead skin removal and moisturization.
Dr. Saloni opines “Niacinamide, salicylic acid, retinoids, and azelaic acid are best suited to treat acne. AHAs like glycolic acid, lactic acid or mandelic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, retinoids, kojic and ferulic acid help in reducing pigmentation. Retinoids, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid along with ceramides and sunscreen are the most important to treat ageing skin. Besides, regular exfoliation with AHAs also helps an ageing skin.”
The alternatives for sensitive skin - If you suffer from sensitive skin like me and dread trying new skin acids with a fear of skin inflammation and adverse effects, hang on we’ve got you! The last thread of our conversation with Dr. Saloni is for all those beauties who want to address the issue without the fear of it backfiring and exacerbating the skin issue. “Agents like salicylic acid, retinoids, and glycolic acid can be quite drying for a skin that is sensitive and already dry. In such cases, these agents need not be completely avoided but can be used with caution. Always combine these agents with a moisturiser, use them just twice or thrice a week, apply a small quantity only, include only any one active agent at a time to avoid over-drying.”, she adds.
The last step to your skin routine? SUNSCREEN! Though it suits all skin types, It is best to take guidance from your dermatologist in tricky or confusing scenarios to avoid irritation of the skin barrier.
Vitamin C can also be irritating for certain skin types. One can use niacinamide, azelaic acid or resveratrol for similar advantages sans the side-effects!