How does your skin feel after using an acid? Tingling and irritated? Red or burning sensation? Feeling generally quite tight?
These are signs your acne prone skin is just too sensitive for acids because your skin barrier function is compromised.
Our skin barrier is most effective when skin is generally slightly acidic (a pH of between 4.5 & 5.5). At this pH level beneficial bacteria are encouraged and generally harmful bacteria are inhibited.
Using products with similar levels of acidity neither increases nor decreases this optimum pH level and keeps our skin balanced and healthy.
Acids require a certain pH to be effective in skincare. A higher pH than this and they become less effective, lower than this and they begin to severely damage skin. This "certain pH" is the acid dissociation constant or pKa. The pKa values of some acids are Lactic: 3.86, Glycolic: 3.83, Madelic: 3.41, Malic: 3.40, Salicylic: 2.97 🤓
Some acids have a pH closer to the optimum skin pH and are less irritating, but all acids damage the skin barrier when used to some extent. This is ok because with correct use the skin barrier repairs between applications. With overuse however, the skin cannot repair and becomes more inflamed and irritated with each application. Likewise, if your skin barrier is already compromised almost any application can lead to irritation.
Acids are extremely beneficial for a whole range of skin problems, including acne, pigmentation and minor scarring but only when used correctly. The advice is simple don’t overuse acids and have a skin care plan that hydrates and repairs the skin barrier alongside your acid use.
Our 28 Day Skin plans use a 2% Salicylic acid + Licorice Root Extract + Niacinamide to help repair the skin barrier. Plus we always follow with our Skin Repair Serum (5% niacinamide, 2% NAG, 1% zinc, amino acid complex) to ensure the skin is left happy afterwards.