Who would want to put acid on their face?
If you follow trends in skincare and skin products, you most likely have seen numerous references to ‘acids’ – names like, Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Glycolic Acid or Ascorbic Acid to name a few. While the term “acid” may seem harmful or irritating, when used in the proper products and in controlled amounts, it can actually heal and rejuvenate skin – much the same way the acid mantle protects it. The trick in proper skincare is to find the right balance between acid and alkaline maintenance of the skin.
You may not know exactly what these acids do for your skin and how they might help you. Understanding skincare ingredients is key to selecting the right products for your unique skin type and skin concerns.
So, what are all these acid ingredients doing in your skincare and how are they beneficial? Acids have become tremendously popular as anti-aging ingredients. Let’s take a look at some of the more common or widely used acids in skincare today.
The Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
You may have heard the term “alpha hydroxy acid” whenever skin care is mentioned. Many skin care products today boast that they contain AHAs. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars in particular plants or fruits. Alpha hydroxy acid can include Glycolic, Citric, Lactic, Malic and Tartaric. These acids, when used correctly, can help to smooth the skin, enhance the effects of other skin rejuvenation treatments, keep problem skin under control, attract moisture to the skin, even texture and complexion of skin and reverse some of the effects of UV damage.
AHAs in skincare products help break up the “glue” that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin, exfoliating the epidermis and leaving a silky texture. Removing this external barrier enables partner skincare ingredients to deeper penetrate the skin, making them more effective. Using an AHA product can benefit dull, lifeless or uneven skin tone. AHA products are also great for softening rough elbows, knees, hands and feet.
Each AHA is derived from a different source. While the following AHA derivatives all share a similar molecular structure, they each perform a different function.
Made from natural fruit acids (alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs) glycolic acid helps rejuvenate the skin by encouraging the shedding of old, sun-damaged surface skin cells. Due to its small molecular size, it retains an excellent capability to penetrate skin. Glycolic acid is most often used as a chemical peel in concentrations of 20 to 70% by dermatologists or at-home kits between 10 and 20%.
Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the stratum corneum to be exfoliated, exposing live skin cells. Glycolic acid will dramatically improve skin texture and appearance and may also reduce wrinkles, acne scaring and hyperpigmentation. By reducing the surface skin oils, it can also help remove blackheads and other skin impurities.
A powerful anti-oxidant used for collagen building, and skin bleaching, citric acid exists in a variety of fruits and vegetables, most notably citrus fruits. Lemons and limes have particularly high concentrations of the acid. A skin rejuvenating AHA, Citric Acid, or Vitamin C, acts as an antioxidant as well as helps stimulate collagen fiber production within the dermis. Citric acid has astringent and antioxidant properties, and is a natural preservative that helps to adjust the pH of skincare products. Citric acid can also bleach unwanted skin discolorations that accompany the aging process. Some pure Vitamin C powder formulations boast skin rejuvenation and antioxidant properties.
Lactic acid comes from sour milk and is an ideal skin softener frequently used by dermatologists to cut through thick, rough skin. It works both as an exfoliator as well as helping to hold water within the skin. Lactic acid may be combined with other AHAs to boost product effectiveness.
Malic acid, an alpha hydroxy fruit acid, is a natural skin exfoliator. It is commonly used in skin care products to rejuvenate and improve skin conditions. Mandelic acid and malic acid are two alpha hydroxy acids increasingly used in skin care formulations where harsher acids or chemicals may irritate sensitive skin types. Malic acid can be found in apples, grapes, pears and bananas.
AHAs are safe when used with caution and according to directions. The amount of AHA in the product and the pH are the determining factors of a product’s strength and irritation you may experience. Remember, this is still an acid and too much can cause redness, irritation or burns. Medical strength AHAs start at a concentration of 8%. This is the baseline of where truly effective results will be noticeable.
If you use an AHA, pay attention to any reactions you have, and stop using the product immediately if you have any irritation at all. Reintroduce it slowly at lower concentrations or stop using it completely. It may also increase sensitivity to the sun, which increases your chances of skin cancer, so always wear sunscreen, cover your skin, or avoid direct sunlight when possible.
Amino acid peptides comprise the latest entry into the skin rejuvenation scene. Amino acids are the chemical units or “building blocks” of the body that make up proteins. Peptides consist of a small number of amino acids linked by a “peptide” bond. These bonds enhance cosmetic suitability and efficacy.
Collagen makes up 75% of our skin. As we age, the collagen- and elastin-producing cells known as fibroblasts, which keep skin tight and youthful, become less abundant and effective. One percent of the skin’s collagen is lost each year after the age of 40. This is where amino acid peptides come in, jump-starting lazy fibroblasts and encouraging new ones to return to the aging dermis.
Skincare treatments that contain amino acid peptides mimic the very end fragments that send out the distress signal to fibroblasts, chemically signaling skin to become firmer by stimulating collagen. Most amino acid peptides offer a non-irritating, non-drying, skin firming option for all skin types. And when formulated with other “friendly” anti-aging agents, can solve many of your skin rejuvenation needs.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
In cosmetics, the term beta hydroxy acid refers specifically to salicylic acid, which is used in some anti-aging creams and acne treatments. Beta hydroxy acids are simple organic acids found in nature or synthesized in the laboratory. They are somewhat different from alpha hydroxy acids in structure and mode of action. The difference here is called “lipid solubility,” aka a substance’s ability to dissolve in oil.
AHAs are water soluble, meaning they’re able to dissolve in water. BHAs, on the other hand, are lipid soluble, meaning they’re able to fully dissolve in oil (or fat). This distinction makes BHAs better at penetrating pores. If you have oily skin, frequent blackheads or whiteheads, then products containing BHA will be your best choice. But if breakouts aren’t your big skin problem, and you’re looking for help dealing with sun damage or wrinkles, consider AHAs instead.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
An antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell It is both fat- and water-soluble. Antioxidants are depleted as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests alpha-lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants and make them active again. In one small-scale study, high potency lipoic acid reduced mild-to-moderate wrinkles by up to 50 percent, whereas fine lines have almost disappeared. In another study, lipoic acid significantly improved the appearance of certain types of scars.
If further studies corroborate skin benefits of lipoic acid, it may become one of the mainstays of today’s anti-aging skin care. In fact, lipoic acid will be especially welcome in the family of proven wrinkle fighters because it is less irritating than tretinoin (Retin A, Renova) and hydroxy acids. It can be used, albeit in lower concentrations, in delicate and wrinkle prone area around the eyes.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C):
Also known as ascorbic acid, this antioxidant is known to aid cell repair and help to stop free radicals. When use topically, it may help reduce lines and wrinkles, promote healing, aid in the development of collagen, and can even increase your natural sun protection factor (SPF) to decrease sun damage. It is also a free-radical fighting anti-oxidant. It is no wonder that Vitamin C is a primary ingredient used to combat wrinkles and aging skin. Ascorbic Acid (or Vitamin C), is an essential nutrient found mainly in fruits and vegetables. The body requires it to form and maintain bones, blood vessels, and skin.
Used as an antioxidant in its L-ascorbic acid form, it can also have skin lightening effects in certain preparations. Ascorbic acid helps produce collagen, a protein needed to develop and maintain healthy skin and blood vessels. Ascorbic acid also promotes the healing of cuts, abrasions and wounds and helps fight infections. The Vivoderm Anti-Aging Mask and Anti-Acne Mask both contain Ascorbic Acid.
A powerful humectant that draws moisture to the skin. Dry, damaged skin with a compromised lipid barrier will flake off more rapidly, resulting in excessive peeling. This can leave the surface of the skin more susceptible to bacterial infections and environmental damage. The added anti-irritation technologies and hyaluronic acid help heal the lipid barrier, improving the health of the skin and minimizing unnecessary, excessive peeling – without sacrificing results.
Some acids may simply be included in your skincare as a preservative to keep the product fresh and to prevent spoiling. Not to be confused with Ascorbic Acid, Sorbic Acid is derived from the berries of the mountain ash tree and is an antimicrobial agent. Sorbic Acid has traditionally been used as a preservative for food and wine due to its ability to prevent spoilage caused by yeasts, fungi and molds, as well as some other bacteria. This unsaturated fatty acid is used primarily in the formulation of facial and eye makeup, skin care and hair products.
Stearic acid is the saturated fatty acid or waxy solid used as a hardening agent or lubricant. This acid helps make skincare creams and lotions “spreadable.” This ingredient can be derived from animals or vegetables. Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, such as coconut or cocoa butter.
Even More Acids
As you can see there are many, many types of acids and acid derivatives to be used in skincare. Here are a few other acids you might encounter in your skincare regimens:
- Alum: a chemical compound, usually used in crystal or powder form, it has strong astringent properties and is found in aftershaves, toners, deodorants and depilatory waxes. It is also sometimes applied to cuts to prevent or treat infection.
- Cyclic Acid: A new term for Hyaluronic Acid, a strong hydrating complex that holds 1000 times the water in skin.
- Ellagic Acid: Present in many red fruits and berries. This naturally occurring ingredient helps to inhibit the formation of sun and age spots. Ellagic acid has antioxidant, anti-mutagen and anti-cancer properties.
- Kojic Acid: is primarily used to lighten freckles and other dark spots on the skin.
- Linoleic Acid: Research points to linoleic acid’s anti-inflammatory, acne reductive, and moisture retentive properties when applied topically on the skin. Often referred to it as Vitamin F, it can be found in most vegetable oils such as safflower and grape seed.
- Panthothenic Acid: helps to increase moisture content in the hair and skin.
- Poly Hydroxy Acid: PHAs are really AHAs that do not penetrate quite as deeply into the skin. Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are two acids that lift tired, dead skin, but because their molecules are larger than the AHAs, they do not penetrate as deeply.
- Salicylic Acid: Made from the bark of the willow tree and classified as a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), it is medically used as an exfolliant and debriding agent and cosmetically used in some chemical peels and to treat many skin disorders, such as acne, dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis of the skin and scalp.
The Vivoderm Natural Skincare line uses the following acids: Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid and Sorbic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). They can be found in these products:
Body Butter: Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Zinc Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Facial Cleanser: Sorbic Acid
Intense Moisturizer: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Foot Cream: Stearic Acid and Sorbic Acid
Author: Rachelle Dupree
Vivoderm Marketing and Communications
The use of herbs as beauty product dates back to times beyond the 2500 B.C. and there is very strong evidence to show that the Romans, Sumerians, Egyptians Chinese and Greek have been using them. It has once again gained popularity in the cosmetic world. Each herbal facial mask has a different kind of benefit which can be cashed as per requirement. There are some which work well for pimples and some other which are good to remove black heads, white heads and acne. There are some which have natural cleansing properties. Most of the knowledge is a hand down information which has been tested by experts of skin problems. There are sea weeds which are very good moisturizers. Most of these herbal facial masks have been prepared after a lot of research on the herbs to find out the benefits.
Herbal Facial masks are helpful in rejuvenating the skin and to attain its lost glory. A facial mask has the ability to maintain the ph balance. A good combination of the herbs in an herbal facial mask improves the blood circulation and as a result there is better supply of oxygen. They not only work on revitalizing the skin but are known to be very good stress busters. Herbal facial masks address many other skin related problems other besides rejuvenating the skin. They tighten the skin pores for a smoother look. They also erase wrinkles and age spots along with treating pimples. Before any facial application it is necessary to cleanse the skin thoroughly and to open the clogged pores. Once the mask is removed face has to be washed toned and moisturize as usual. It is a good practice to read the ingredients before buying it as it is important to keep away from products with alcohol in them.
Herbal skin treatments are enjoying the popularity wave. There are a hundred thousand herbs around us that are teeming with beauty properties. Bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, parsley, licorice, mint- there are so many herbs that may help!
The frequency of herbal mask usage depends on the strength of its ingredients. It also depends on the skin type. Just like an herbal facial, an herbal facial steam is highly useful. Herbal steam composition is really easy to make. All you need to do is get hold of some herbs (the ones that are suitable for your skin type) and put them in boiling water. This herb immersed water does a lot good to the skin.
Sweet yarrow facial mask is a highly nourishing skin mask. Yarrow leaves are truly equipped with beauty properties. Yarrow leaves, yogurt and honey together make for a truly rejuvenating facial mask. Similarly, rosemary, jojoba and avocado are very helpful in treating sun damage. Chamomile is another wondrous herb. You can mix chamomile flowers with citrus fruit juice to make a truly soothing facial mask. Likewise lemongrass, French clay, honey and sage leaf may be blend together into a thick mixture. This mask helps to revitalize the facial skin. Lavender, flaxseed, oatmeal and rosemary also enhance inner beauty.
Lavender flowers, dandelion leaf and lemongrass are the three herbs that can considerably help to reduce oiliness. Likewise elder flowers, yarrow flowers, nettle leaf, rosemary, peppermint leaf, horsetail, chamomile and comfrey root are helpful in skin cleansing and toning. To open up blocked pores you may as well try lavender flowers, coltsfoot leaf and peppermint. The same set of herbs may also be used to moisturize facial skin. There is another valuable herb called lady’s mantle. The herb is known to work magically on irritation, itchiness and deep blemishes.
Herbal facial mask is a combination of selected herbs that helps to rejuvenate dead facial skin. An effective herbal facial is replete with all kinds of antibacterial and antifungal components. These components are fully charged to fight various skin disorders. Herbal facial masks are especially helpful to tackle damaged skin but a person with a fairly intact skin may use them to sustain the present skin quality.
Herbal facial mask is an excellent formula for skin nourishment. Such herbal face packs are widely used to treat patchy and pigmented facial skin. Herbal facial masks are adept at controlling melanin production. Some herbal facial masks act as effective cleansers. They help to remove all the dirt and contaminants that have embedded deep down into the innermost layers of the skin.
Chamomile extracts, diamond ash, rosemary, turmeric, sandalwood, comfrey leaves, neem, Aloe Vera, calendula, fuller’s earth and mint are the most common herbs known to work well on lifeless skin.
There is worth in spending money on herbal facial masks. These herbal masks are chemical-free and treat the facial skin very gently. There are many different types of herbal masks. You may browse through the herbal store shelf to identify the most appropriate one. Before making the final decision, go through the constituents that make up the mask. Make sure that the product that you are considering to purchase is actually what it proclaims to be.
A facial pack is very easy to wear. Before wearing the mask, clean the facial skin thoroughly with a good quality facial cleanser. A thick layer of facial mask must be applied all over the facial skin and neck. Post the application; gently massage the facial skin in circular upward motion. Allow the paste to dry up for approximately 20 minutes. Moisturize the facial skin. Your skin will feel fresh and smooth!
There is one thing that every one of us faces after some days of gap, and that is of dull and tired looking skin and we end up using harsh chemically based products, which make the situation worse. Good thing is that, there is no need to worry as you can have a glowing skin without the use of chemicals on your delicate face as it can be done through use of herbal facial masks.
Facial masks are a beneficial step for you and can be done weekly so as to owe you a bright, shiny and clear skin that you always wanted to have. You do not need to worry about your skin type as there is a facial mask for each and every skin type.
If you have a skin like this then the natural clay masks are the best for you as these will help you in unclogging the pores, remove excess oil and removing of blackheads without drying up your skin.
For such a good skin you can go for a facial mask of yogurt or banana that can cleanse your face and bring a glow to it.
For your dry skin you need a mask that can provide you with moisture. So you can go for a hydrating herbal facial mask which will regain your skin moisture and give you a soft and supple skin.
Even your dull skin can be treated with exfoliating herbal facial masks which consists of lots of fruits, vegetables and dry fruits so as to give you a clean, glowing face.
So use herbal facial masks and stay beautiful always, naturally.