So when we think of putting acids on our face we immediately think about burning, scarring, disfiguration and a whole bunch of other horrific things. That’s not the kind of acid you’re going to ever want in your skin routine and also not the kind of acid I’m talking about. To get everyone caught up let me do a brief overview of what an acid is exactly.
Let’s start by explaining the pH scale. The pH scale is basically a spectrum that measures the amount of free hydrogen in a solution. It ranges from 1-14 with 7 being the middle point and the place on the scale where water falls. So an acid is any solution that falls below 7 on the pH scale and a base is anything that falls above 7.
Our skin has a thin acidic film of protection called the acid mantle (or moisture barrier) that performs best at a pH of between 4 and 5. This pH is a sweet spot where the moisture barrier does the best job of protecting skin and locking in moisture. This is the fleekiest, glowiest, healthiest pH our skin can be. Here you’ll be supple, moisturized and be the least acne-prone.
Most traditional soaps and even some premium cleansers do not perform well at such a low pH so they're formulated at 6 pH or higher. So every time we wash our face with this we disrupt the pH of our moisture barrier by sending it up too high. The barrier usually adjusts itself back to normal within about 15 minutes, but the more we wash with these harsh soaps, the longer it takes to restore itself. Overdo it and the barrier will be completely destroyed and self-repair can take days! By adding acids to your regimen, you aid your skin's natural chemistry and help to restore that balance immediately.
Kojic acid is produced during the fermentation of rice for the production of sake. It came to popularity in the Asian skin care market due to its lightening and anti-aging abilities. This acid is super effective for fading dark marks and hyperpigmentation. The Aini Organix Papaya Brightening Serum uses this ingredient for smoothing and evening tone.
AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids)
AHAs are organic acids with an -OH group attached to the alpha position of the acid. Some common AHAs used in skincare formulations are glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, and sometimes citric acid (I’ll explain what I mean by that later). These acids have so many great benefits when used in skincare. Because they cause mild peeling, they can reverse the signs of aging as well as fade dark marks and stretch marks. Check out the Aini Organix Harrar Body Polish for a solid AHA body product to combat trouble areas. .
AHA’s appear very commonly in nature and can be found in these natural sources
Lactic Acid – soured milk or buttermilk, molasses, yogurt, honey, or bilberries.
Tartaric Acid – grapes, berries, currants, passion fruit, honeysuckle, and red wine.
Malic Acid – apples
Gluconic – sugar cane or corn (the smallest molecule of all AHA’s, therefore the strongest and most irritating.)
Glycolic acid- common fruits and vegetables
BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids)
Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. This BHA is famous for it lipophilic (dissolves in oil) nature that makes it able to penetrate clogged pores and reduce sebum production. Salicylic acid is an oily skin miracle worker. A natural source of this acid is Willow Bark Extract ( a key ingredient in our Green Tea Cleansing Water)
While primarily classified as an AHA, some formulations of citric acid are BHAs, too. Rather than even out your skin’s pH levels, this type of citric acid is primarily used to dry out excess sebum and clean out dead skin cells deep in your pores. Citric acid occurs naturally in the oil of all citrus fruit such a lemon, grapefruit and lime. The acidity is too high and can be damaging if you use the juice from these fruit directly on your face.
Safety precautions of Acids
Remember I said the sweet spot for healthy skin falls somewhere between 4 and 5. So if you’re constantly dragging down your skin’s pH with these super acidic products, you’ll eventually disrupt your pH and find your skin reacting negatively to your products. Not to mention, the higher the concentration, the greater the possibility of an acid burn. That’s a scar NOBODY wants to deal with.
There’s also speculation that these acids can increase photosensitivity in skin cells, which could possibly increase the risk of skin cancer. Always use an spf when using these sorts of products. It will protect your skin cells and aid in the fading of dark spots. I even suggest applying the acids in the evenings to avoid having the highest concentrations on your face