Skincare Secrets: Acids

Facial acids are the unsung hero of modern skincare. I started using acids around 3 years ago, and they have, without a doubt made the biggest difference to my skincare, more so than any other product. I suffered from teenage acne, PCOS symptoms on my face all the time including those horrible red bumps that come up under the skin but never seem to become a proper spot, as well as general bumpiness and uneven texture. I also lived my teenage years and early 20's by overstripping my skin with the products I was using (until I learnt better! Let me know if you want a full step by step breakdown of my full skincare routine). I've ended up changing a lot about my skincare in the last 3 years and all I can say is thank goodness I did, otherwise I'm pretty sure there wouldn't have been much left of my face by now!

In and amongst all of that, I discovered the power of acids and I kid you not when I say, they have literally changed my relationship with my skin forever. My skin nowadays is visibly clear, smooth, bright and I have a much more even complexion.

Here's the breakdown of what you need to know if you're thinking of trying acids.


There are 4 main types of common face acids (there are others but these are the ones you're most likely to come across). Each acid will act as an exfoliant but they each have their own unique properties, so you'll want to choose one or two based on your concerns.

  1. Salicylic - essentially it's the spot buster. If you tend to breakout, have blackheads or whiteheads or combination-oily skin, this is a good one for you. As well as the general exfoliating treatment of all acids, salicylic is good for pretty much cleaning out pores, so you don't get the build up of oil and dirt in the pore, and therefore no spots! If you currently have blackheads or whiteheads and you're thinking of starting to use salicylic, I'd suggest getting a good facial first and having your facialist do a full steam and extraction for you to give you a good headstart.
  2. Glycolic - I call this one the all-rounder. It's pretty much the best one for evening out skin texture, gently resurfacing the skin and giving you that bright glow. Use it morning and evening for the best results.
  3. Hyaluronic - hydration alert! Hyaluronic acid has become much more common in high street skincare in the last year or two. It is absolutely amazing for providing top level hydration to the skin. If you tend to have dry skin, or are worried about fine lines and wrinkles, this one will immediately help to plump out your skin, giving you a youthful glow.
  4. Lactic - this is the barn door opener. Lactic acid essentially helps other products to penetrate the skin more deeply and effectively. Whereas the other three above have specific properties that make them great to use, this one is good if you don't have any specific skin concerns, but you have a serum that you want to get the full benefit of. Apply the acid first and follow with your serum for the best results.



  • Acids are exfoliants. They will remove layers of dead skin so you shouldn't use a physical, grainy exfoliator as part of the same skin routine. Use either/or only.
  • They come in different strengths starting from very mild to strong (you won't get the really strong stuff over the counter; a dermatologist would need to prescribe it for you). Start off mild and work your way up - most acids start at 2% and dermatologist prescribed ones are typically 50-60% acid. So don't worry that your face might fall off, I promise it won't!
  • Don't use more than one acid per routine. I.e. incorporate one type of acid into your morning skincare, and one in the evening. You could use the same on for both but don't use more than one per routine.
  • Most acids are available at affordable prices on the high street or at mid-price range. Check out the links below for some suggestions.


Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pads (salicylic) - £5.85 - available here  PIXI Glow Tonic (glycolic) - $29.00 - available here Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Acid Pads - £2.95 - available here Nip+Fab Teen Skin Fix Cleansing Pads (salicylic) - £6.66 - available here B. Hydrated Hyaluronic Acid - £3.95 - available here Makeup Revolution Hyaluronic Fixing Spray - £6.00 - available here Eucerin Dermopurifyer Oil Control Toner (lactic) - £9.49 - available here