What are exfoliating acids? These are acids that can treat different kinds of skin conditions. They can help with hyperpigmentation, chloasma, Melasma, scarring, hypopigmentation, acne, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and even rosacea.

The different acids treat different skin needs. These acids are referred to as “Chemical Peels”. The benefits of skin brightening, tightening, and exfoliation play an important role in helping us with our skin.

The familiar names in acids are:

  • Glycolic
  • Lactic
  • Malic
  • Tartaric

These oil-soluble and great for acne sufferers:

  • Salicylic
  • Citric acid

Some peels are a blend of different acids, and this lends itself to create a more well rounded result. Depending on the the need.

Let's Break Things Down

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane. This is the most popular. It has the smallest of all the acid molecules which helps penetrate deeper into the skin. It can be used with all skin types. Helps improve sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles, slough off dead skin cells, clean pores deep beneath the skins surface, and help the skin’s ability to hold in moisture, and last but not least can increase production of elastin and collagen, and remodels existing collagen. Sounds amazing, huh! Me too. No wonder it’s everyone’s favorite.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid, which is derived from milk (No need to panic about milk allergies, most lactic acids are formulated in a lab, now cow needed). This too helps with skin’s moisture factors, fine lines and wrinkles, softens the skin by increasing elastin and collagen production, and helps with skin’s cellular turn over. Cleopatra used to take milk baths back in ancient times. No wonder her skin was so youthful and beautiful.

Malic Acid

Malic acid is derived from apples. Fabulous for skin prone to irritation and inflammation. It gently loosens and exfoliates dead skin cells, and allows fresh skin to come to the surface more quickly.

Another key player in the Malic acid family is antioxidants. Got to fight off those nasty Free Radicals that we come in contact with everyday. Secret to staying youthful is antioxidants!

Tartaric Acid

This is found in a variety of fruits and is a fabulous antioxidant. It’s second to citrus in molecular size. Typically this one gets blended with a salicylic acid for added benefit.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is the most named ingredient that helps with acne. It is one of my favorite, tried and true warriors for the Acne war. It’s made from wintergreen, willow tree, and sweet birch. It is recommended for acne, as I mentioned, for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s ability to dissolve the top layer of dead skin cells and reduce clogged pores. It can stay in the skin for 5-7 days. It is oil loving, therefore it seeks out the oil and removes it. I appreciate this beneficial ingredient for those acne sufferers. Having astringent and antioxidant properties, with enhanced exfoliation capabilities, it also softens and invigorates the skin.

The Main Differences Between Acids...

…are their performances.

The different depths of penetration and which direction it’s working, places a key role in how I decide which acid to use for different skin types.

The smaller a molecule is, the better it allows for the acids to penetrate deeper into the skin layers. As it works its way up through the skin, it’s making improvements along the way.

Your citric and salicylic acids are not going to penetrate as deep, which is why it’s so great for pores. It can and will stay in the skin for 5-7 days. This is how it can clean out those deep impacted acne pustules and clogged oil glands.

With the different skin types and different combinations of peels, an esthetician can really help many different skin conditions. That is one of the many reason I’m so passionate about what I do.