Top 10 Skin Acids for Your Skincare Routine in 2024

Top 10 Skin Acids for Your Skincare Routine in 2024

Facial acids are the star of the moment and there is no doubt that they are here to stay. Given that there are several different types of facial acids, each with multitude of skin benefits, figuring out the best facial acids may be similar to riding a rollercoaster. 

To help you find out the best face acids for your skin and also their benefits, after careful research and discussions with our in house team of expert dermatologists, we have rounded up 10 best facial acids in this blog. 

In This Article

    1. Salicylic Acid

    Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid or BHA which is naturally derived from willow bark, sweet birch bark and wintergreen leaves. Salicylic acid penetrates the skin at a deeper level to remove excess oil and manage sebum production. It exfoliates the skin to unclog the skin pores and dissolve dead skin cells and other impurities. Given its exfoliating and cleansing properties, it thus helps against the appearance of acne, blackheads and whiteheads. Its anti-inflammatory properties also makes it one of the best facial acids for those struggling with acne and psoriasis.  

    Since salicylic acid helps manage excess oil production and also with acne, it is most suitable for those with oily and acne prone skin. Generally, high concentrations of the ingredient are used by dermatologists and professionals to treat acne and other skin issues such as acne scars, melasma and age spots. 

    SkinQ’s Oil & Acne Control Elixir Serum is formulated by a dermatologist to help defend your skin against acne and manage sebum production. Developed with salicylic acid serum as the main ingredient it also has the added benefits of niacinamide, retinol liposomes and azelaic acid. Our salicylic acid serum is proven to reduce acne breakouts by managing oil production and unclog skin pores. 

    2. Glycolic Acid

    Widely used in skincare products, glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid or AHA that helps in the treatment of acne, anti-aging, etc. As an AHA, glycolic acid is easily absorbed by the skin and exfoliates the skin. It also helps speed up the cell rejuvenation process that helps remove the dead skin cells and leaves you with brighter looking skin. Additionally, it also helps promote collagen production resulting in plump, firm and youthful skin.  

    If you’re on the lookout to treat your skin with a glycolic acid product, try out SkinQ’s Glow-Detan DIY Active Facial Kit. Rich in benefits of glycolic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and other ingredients, our facial kit is a 5 step treatment to unclog your skin pores and achieve bright, healthy looking skin. 

    3. Hyaluronic Acid

    Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring ingredient that is found in the skin and is a humectant. As a humectant, it works to draw and trap the moisture from the surrounding to help keep the skin hydrated. Hydration helps maintain the skin’s elasticity that results in youthful and plump looking skin. 

    But with age, hyaluronic acid production by our body slows down which, in turn, leads to the ageing of the skin and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Topical application of hyaluronic acid helps compensate for the otherwise lost benefits of the naturally occurring ingredient.  

    The humectant is commonly found as hyaluronic acid serum, creams, moisturisers and even as derma fillers. With hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient, a serum can help hydrate the skin, fade fine lines and wrinkles, and improve the texture of the skin. 

    At SkinQ, dermatologists and experts after years of research and study formulated Hydrate Elixir Serum with hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. Whether you have dry, dull and flaky skin or are struggling with fine lines and wrinkles, our hyaluronic acid serum is the answer for all your problems! Easily absorbed by the skin, our serum helps hydrate and nourish the skin while also repairing the skin barrier. With religious use, it fades the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

    4. Azelaic Acid

    Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that is found in barley, wheat and rye. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it is a common ingredient found in anti acne skincare products. It works by removing the dead skin cells and impurities such as acne bacteria from the skin pore to reduce further acne breakouts and skin inflammation. It also promotes cell turnover that helps in wound healing and minimises acne scars.

    5. L-Ascorbic Acid

    Among the most loved facial acids is l-ascorbic acid, best known as the vitamin C acid. L-ascorbic acid has potent antioxidant properties that help neutralise free radicals. It also promotes production of collagen and elastin that aids in prevention against premature skin ageing and keeps the skin firm and plump. 

    L-ascorbic acid also aids in healing wounds, repairing damaged skin, fading dark spots and acne scars, treating discoloration and even hyperpigmentation among other benefits.   

    With 15% l-ascorbic acid, SkinQ’s Vitamin C Glow Serum is inundated with benefits for our skin. With added ingredients such as ferulic acid and sodium hyaluronate, our Vitamin C Glow Serum not only protects the skin against environmental aggressors like harsh sunlight and pollution, it also helps repair the skin to reduce tanning, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

    6. Lactic Acid

    Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that can be found in  numerous over-the-counter skincare products. Derived from milk, it is among one of the first ingredients used for skincare. It is commonly used as an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells, fade dark spots, pigmentation and promote collagen production, speed up cell turnover and stimulate cell renewal to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

    Unlike other AHAs, lactic acid helps maintain skin hydration and prevent the skin from dryness. Since it is milder in its formulation, dermatologists regard it suitable for those with the sensitive skin type. 

    However, lactic acid may have some possible side effects such as skin irritation, redness, burning, skin peeling and itching and can also make your skin more sensitive to sun. It is recommended to patch test before starting out with lactic acid and to religiously use a sunscreen of at least SPF40 before stepping out in direct sun exposure. 

    7. Kojic Acid

    Derived from different types of fungi and fermented foods like rice, kojic acid is one of the most sought after facial acids for treating discoloration and hyperpigmentation. Kojic acid works as a skin lightener by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase - the melanin or skin pigment forming enzyme. 

    Kojic acid also helps prevent skin damage from free radicals caused by harmful UV rays and pollution. Moreover, it consists of anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that help in the treatment of various skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete's foot. 

    8. Malic Acid

    Malic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that is found in apples, pears and certain wines. As an AHA, malic acid helps exfoliate the skin to remove the dead skin cells from the top surface of the skin to reveal an even textured, brighter and smoother looking skin. Exfoliation also helps to unclog skin pores thus reducing the appearance of acne and blemishes as well as stimulating cell turnover that aids in the treatment of discoloration. 

    Unlike other alpha hydroxy acids, it has larger molecules which makes it gentle on the skin. Adding to this, malic facial acid also acts as a humectant to keep the skin well hydrated and moisturised. 

    SkinQ’s Glow Detan Elixir Serum, formulated by dermatologists with active ingredients such as lactic acid, kojic acid and mandelic acid that helps detan and visibly even out the skin tone to give you brighter looking skin. It also helps fade hyperpigmentation and control melasma.

    9. Mandelic Acid

    Mandelic acid is an Alpha hydroxy acid that is derived  from bitter almonds. Used as an exfoliator, mandelic acid is one of the most gentle AHA, making it the perfect facial acid for all skin types. 

    Mandelic acid works by loosening the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to reveal brighter, softer and smoother looking skin. It also helps to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sun pots, acne marks and melasma. Moreover, it consists of anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the development of acne and blemishes. It further also helps stimulate collagen production and thus fading and minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

    SkinQ’s Oil Control Wonder Mask rich with benefits of mandelic acid, niacinamide, tea tree and zinc PCA, is a one stop treatment for those struggling with oily skin. Developed by dermatologists, our Oil Control Wonder Mask has proven to manage oil production and unclog skin pores thus, minimising the appearance of acne breakouts to give you clean, smooth and clear looking skin. 

    10. Ferulic Acid

    Naturally derived from plants such as eggplant, rice, wheat, pineapple, citrus, etc. Ferulic acid is generally found in anti-ageing products. It is believed to help protect the skin from free radicals from harsh UV rays and pollution that often acts as a cause of premature skin ageing. Topical use of ferulic acid has been found to be more beneficial for fading the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and in the overall treatment of skin ageing. 

    When used with other skincare ingredients such as vitamin E and vitamin C, ferulic acid helps boost the performance of these ingredients and also makes them last longer. Due to its gentle and mild nature, ferulic acid is suitable for all skin types. 

    Wrapping Up

    Though facial acids may give off a sense of fear, products with facial acids can truly be perfect for all your skin woes - of course, when used correctly. If you’re just starting out, ensure to slowly introduce your skin to facial acids and it is best to avoid using them all at once as doing so can add to your skin issues. 

    If you’re still uncertain about the best facial acid for your skin, we recommend consulting your dermatologist to get the best guide to suit your skin.


    How often should I use these acids?

    The ideal usage frequency for acids depends on the specific acid type, concentration, and your skin's sensitivity.  It's always best to start slow. Begin with once or twice a week and watch how your skin reacts. If you experience no irritation, you can gradually increase usage. Aim for every other day for AHAs and potentially daily for BHAs, but be mindful of any discomfort. When in doubt, consult a dermatologist for personalized advice.

    Is there a specific order I should apply these acids?

    Yes, the order of applying acids in your skincare routine can make a difference. Generally, thinner, water-based products like hyaluronic acid should go on first, followed by thicker products and oils. This allows the thinner layers to penetrate deeper before being blocked by heavier products.

    Additionally, it's recommended to apply retinol between hydrating layers like hyaluronic acid to minimize irritation. Remember, some products may interact poorly, so it's always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or research specific ingredient combinations before applying.

    Should I avoid sunlight altogether when using these acids?

    No, you don't necessarily need to avoid sunlight altogether while using acids. However, some acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid are a prime example. If you're using AHAs, consider applying them at night and using extra sun protection during the day, like a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid are generally less likely to cause sun sensitivity. But regardless of the acid type, wearing sunscreen daily is a good habit to protect your skin from sun damage.

    Is there a recommended starting dosage for each acid?

    There's no safe recommended starting dose for any kind of acid. Acids are potent substances, and taking them without medical supervision is incredibly dangerous. Their effects vary depending on the acid itself, concentration, and individual factors.  Consulting a medical professional is crucial to determine if an acid is even necessary and, if so, the appropriate administration method and dosage.

    Are there any ingredients that should not be used with these acids?

    Some ingredients can clash with acids (AHAs and BHAs) in your skincare routine. Here are the main ones to watch out for:

    Vitamin C:  Although acidic itself, vitamin C is finicky and can be destabilized by the lower pH of AHAs/BHAs, rendering it ineffective.

    Retinol: While both target wrinkles, combining them can be very drying and irritating to your skin.

    Benzoyl Peroxide: This acne fighter can deactivate retinol, making them both pointless together.

    How long can it take to see results when using face acids?

    The wait for results with face acids depends on the specific concern you're targeting.  For a smoother, brighter complexion from AHAs or BHAs, you might see a difference after just one use. However, targeting deeper concerns like acne or wrinkles with salicylic acid or retinoids can take 6 to 12 weeks of consistent use.  Remember, patience is key!

    Can I use multiple acids in my routine at the same time?

    You might be able to use multiple acids in your routine, but it depends on the specific acids and your skin's sensitivity. Combining certain acids, like AHAs and BHAs, can be okay, especially for targeting different concerns like clogged pores and dullness.

    However, using strong acids or mixing them with other actives like retinol can irritate your skin. It's always best to start slow with one acid at a time and see how your skin reacts. If you do want to combine acids, alternate nights or apply them at different times of the day.  Pay close attention to your skin and stop using any product that causes redness, dryness, or burning. Consulting a dermatologist is always the safest way to create a personalized routine with multiple acids.

    Is there a specific order I should apply these acids in?

    Yes, the order of applying acids in your skincare routine can matter. Generally, thinner, water-based products like hyaluronic acid should go on first, followed by thicker treatments and creams. This allows the thinner layers to penetrate deeper before being blocked by heavier products.

    Additionally, it's recommended to apply retinol between hydrating layers like hyaluronic acid to minimize irritation. Remember, some products may contain multiple acids in one formula, so always refer to the specific product instructions.

    Should I consult a dermatologist before using facial acids?

    While facial acids can be great for improving skin texture and tone, consulting a dermatologist first is a wise move. They can assess your unique skin type and concerns. This way, they can recommend the right acid type (glycolic, lactic, salicylic, etc.) and strength to target your needs without irritating.

    This is especially important for sensitive skin or if you have conditions like rosacea or eczema.  A dermatologist can also create a personalized routine incorporating the acid and advise on proper application and sun protection.

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