Acid ingredients have become the go-to for face care brands and skincare aficionados alike, as they offer multiple benefits for most skin types. For those new to acids, they may sound like the last thing to put on your skin, however fear not as we’re here to share our top tips and fail-safe combinations for all skin types.
Firstly, Saint Iris is one of few brands that looks at skin holistically, and whilst face care brands have been using acids for a long time, we’ve utilised the power of acids for transformative results on face and body.
Either naturally or synthetically derived, acids have an ability to noticeably resurface the skin, brighten, and longer term treat pigmentation and unevenness. They have for this reason gained a strong following, however the recent rise in mono-dosing and high percentage acid products have led to an increase in people experiencing the skin barrier problems.
At Saint Iris, we carefully balance acids in our formulas to bring gradual and irritation-free skin wellness results. The acids we use and recommend are:
PHA (Polyhydroxy acid) / Gluconolactone is a naturally derived ingredient that has multiple skin care benefits, and frankly we can’t get enough of it, in fact we’ve used it in all our aqueous formulas! Here is why:
- Gluconolactone acts to attract water molecules to hydrate the skin as well as gently exfoliate, giving skin plumpness and an overall better texture and tone. Hence even the drier skin types benefit from using it.
- PHA also acts as an antioxidant to strengthen and protect skin’s barrier, and help to neutralise free radicals. Used regularly, it helps to stimulate cell turnover and create healthy, resilient skin.
- It has healing powers and antimicrobial properties, making it perfect for city dwellers as well as to treat skin prone to acne or hormonal imbalances.
BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) / Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble exfoliant with the ability to penetrate deeper into pores to help shed dead cells and clear out debris. We use BHA derived from the Willow Bark that is also high in tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and minerals, all of which help soothe the skin and aid in cell regeneration, allowing for a more youthful, refreshed skin tone - but without stripping or drying out skin.
Salicylic acid is a perfect way to elevate your body care, and whilst scrubs or similar mechanical exfoliants (tasked to physically change skin’s appearance) have been around for a long time, it’s becoming more evident that acids treat skin more effectively and kindly - so put down the abrasive coffee beans and shell scrubs and opt for our express face + body treatment with Purity Paste.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) - Despite its name, this acid doesn’t exfoliate, instead it plumps by attracting water molecules and helps create volume. It’s an effective water-retaining hydrator that improves the appearance of fine lines, softens and gives skin that lit-from-within effect. Hyaluronic acid works well paired with salicylic acid, as formulated in our Serenity Salve lotion, as this combination cancels out any signs of dryness and irritation whilst locking moisture into the outer surface of the skin and ensuring the protective barrier is strengthened - making it perfect for all skin types.
Plant oil acids - Slightly different to the other acids, the essential fatty acids (EFAs) help to decrease trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and offer antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits. They act as building blocks in the skin cells, strengthening the skin's surface layers for a smoother and healthier complexion. You can find EFAs in all our products, and we balance them to suit drier and oilier skin types, to provide the nourishment skin needs throughout all seasons.
Ellagic acid - Our Merry-Berry Plump is highly potent in ellagic acid, a natural and gentle alternative to hydroquinone (sans the irritation), to brighten and repair skin damaged by environmental stressors, e.g. UV rays and pollution. We use this effective group of ingredients to help protect and treat skin affected by hyperpigmentation and discolouration, making it perfect for those looking for a youthful and outdoors-y lifestyle.
Enzymes vs Acids: You may also have used enzymes as exfoliators, and we love them for their ability to improve the skin’s texture. Here is how the two compare:
While both exfoliate at the chemical level, they do so in a slightly different way. Enzymes are small molecules found in fruits (we use fermented pomegranate sourced from by-products of food and juicing productions) that break down the protein in dead skin cells. They remove dead skin cells and smooth the surface of the skin, but they don't promote cell turnover at skin’s deeper layers. On the other side, acids penetrate deeper into the skin and accelerate turnover for all your skin cells, not just the dead skin on skin’s surface. We’ve combined the two for a sustained, longer-term skin wellness, and the most evident result can be experienced with our serum Wake-Up Droplets which offers multiple surface and deeper skin benefits - across all age groups.
Stronger is not always better
Although trendy, there are many skincare acids we’ve decided to not use in our formulas as they have a greater effect on skin’s barrier, including irritation, dryness and oil imbalance. For that reason, we don’t use AHA acids (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) e.g. Glycolic acid, and Azelaic and Mandelic acids which are typically used to treat acne-prone skin, as these acids can lead to skin irritations.
Another widely used acid is Ascorbic acid, a synthetic type of Vitamin C that is used to brighten skin. We have opted for a gentler and natural version of Vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside) that is also more stable, and we’ve turned to Adriatic Mountain Daisy active - rich in allantoin and betulinic acid for the brightening benefits; both can be found in our serum Wake-Up Droplets.
A few acid fails to avoid:
- Retinols with AHA / BHA acids. If your skincare routine already includes retinol, the strong exfoliating acids can dry out skin and cause further irritation. Instead try to alternate between the two, and remember that less is more when it comes to these powerful ingredient groups.
- Retinols with Vitamin C. Whilst Vitamin C protects skin from environmental aggressors and retinol repairs and rebuilds skin, they are best used at opposite times of the day or on alternate days to minimise skin irritations. We have opted for ingredients rich in Vitamin A - a natural alternative to retinol that suits all skin types.
- Glycolic with salicylic acid. Used together they may cause irritation and compromise skin’s barrier. For an effective yet gentle resurfacing and cell turnover, try our Purity Paste which combines Gluconolactone (PHA) and Salicylic acid with cedar and kaolin particles to effectively (and safely) bring clearer and more even complexion.
- Niacinamide (B5) with BHA, when combined they have no effect and can instead cause redness. Used separately, both ingredients can help improve skin texture and treat acne-prone skin.
- Overuse of acids. Opting for single ingredient “booster” products with high dosage acids, or DYI / kitchen ingredients may be fun however they’re not easy to pull off safely. Instead, think long term and seek out products with balanced formulas that offer wider skin care benefits - without trade offs.
Get in touch for any skincare advice and product tips, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or LiveChat with us via our website.