In my forays throughout the K-beauty bloggerverse, I’ve come across some really useful posts on skin acidity which has drastically changed my individual skin regimen. Two of the most detailed and powerful pieces on this subject can be found on Skin & Tonics and Snow White and the Asian Pear’s blogs.
I’ve written this post for those who want a quick and easy guide to why acids, which acids, and how to use acids.
Our skin is naturally acidic, with a pH range of between 4.0-6.0, the average being 4.7. This acidic level is beneficial for our skin. The acid level stops the growth of harmful bacteria and organisms which would otherwise grow on our skin. (You can read more about the acid mantle and the moisture barrier in Skin & Tonics excellent post here).
This means that many of the cleansers that we use daily damage our skin as they disrupt the acid mantle. The majority of cleansers have a pH of 7.0 to 10.0, which compromises the acidity of our skin and disrupts the moisture barrier formed by this acidity. This leaves our skin dry, irritated, red, sensitive, and acne-prone. This is true even of high pH cleansers that claim to be “gentle” and “pH balanced.” Note that most cleansers do not list their pH levels on their labels.
I became thoroughly convinced of the importance of a low pH cleanser when I stopped using a “gentle” cream cleanser (pH of 7.0), replacing it only an oil cleanser and a low pH cleanser. Prior to stopping the high pH cleanser, my skin was outrageously dry. I was blaming it on the winter, but my skin was becoming ridiculously dehydrated to the point where I was reapplying my sleeping pack multiple times overnight and still waking up with parched skin. Once I switched to a low pH cleanser, however, my dryness calmed down tremendously, and my skin became less sensitive.
Low pH cleansers I have used and would recommend:
- Cerave hydrating cleanser
- SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (Holy Grail for many beauty bloggers).
Upon further research I next learned that apart from helping you to maintain a healthy moisture barrier, that our skin benefits a great deal from the use of applying acids to our skin. Topical acids chemically exfoliate your skin, causing your skin to slough off old cell layers and replace them with new and healthy cells. AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) are excellent for dry skin, BHAs (salicylic acid) really helpful for reducing and getting rid of acne and Vitamin C for lightening scars, evening out and brightening your skin tone. All of these acids are also effective for pore minimizing. They are the only products that can actually clinically claim to minimize your pores with efficacy.
These are the products that I have been using that came recommended by other beauty bloggers:
- Mizon AHA&BHA toner,
- OST Vitamin C from Wishtrend (use promo code 193336110 to get $5 off your order),
- Mizon 8% AHA peeling serum, and
- Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid
I’m impressed by all of these products. They’ve improved my skin very quickly and I have seen a lot of difference in a short amount of time. I’ve linked mostly to Amazon above, but the cheapest place to find most of these products is RoseRoseShop which ships from Korea.
HOW (TO USE)?
Snow White and the Pear has an extremely detailed and helpful post on how to use your topical acids here, but here’s my quick and dirty version.
Your acids should go on bare skin, meaning as soon as you dry your face after having washed it. All your acids should go on before you begin any hydrating steps (toner, serum, essence, emulsion, cream etc.) And you want to apply your acids in the order of the product with the lowest pH first. Wait 20 minutes in between each step because it takes that long for the acids to lose their effectiveness.
The following is the order most people suggest:
- Cleanse face with oil cleanser and foaming cleanser. Dry face.
- Apply the Mizon AHA BHA toner to force the pH level of your skin down, a critical step to allow the acids to work more effectively. You can apply it to your face directly with your hands or use a cotton pad.
- Apply a few drops of the Vitamin C serum. Wait 20 minutes.
- Apply a few drops of the BHA liquid. Wait 20 minutes.
- Apply a few drops of the AHA serum. Wait 20 minutes.
- Continue with rest of skin care regimen.
In all, since I got rid of my high pH cleansers and started using acids as part of my regimen, my skin has shown a great deal of improvement. Incorporating acids and being more well aware of the pH level of the products you use are steps that I would recommend everyone to add to their skincare routine. The move has only improved my skin, and not worsened it in the least.
Note: This post contains affiliate links which go towards the maintenance of the blog.