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Which Acids to Try For Your Skin Type

MIRA BEAUTY • updated Mar 22, 2021
Which Acids to Try For Your Skin Type

Customize your skincare routine with these acids

Beauty is a science, and there’s no better way to combine the two than with the best acids in skincare. Ferulic, Lactic, Glycolic, Salicylic. There’s so many to choose from, and we understand that it can get a bit overwhelming. What’s the difference between AHA’s and BHA’s? Why is Hyaluronic Acid named that way when it doesn’t exfoliate, but hydrates and nourishes? We’ll answer these questions by telling you all about the best acids for your skin type - helping you exfoliate and nourish without the risk of irritation. Not all acids are created equal, and you need to personalize your skincare routine to discover the best ones that you have chemistry with. Pun intended. Find your new favorite acid skincare products for your skin type on MIRA BEAUTY!

Dry skin

Hyaluronic Acid

Hydro Boost Gel Cream by Neutrogena
Source: Neutrogena

Well, duh. Hyaluronic Acid is the hydration hero that every skincare routine for dry skin needs, with the ability to carry 1,000 times its own weight in water to flood your face with moisture. Don’t let the “acid” in the name fool you, either… as this substance is naturally found within the body and extremely gentle on your skin. There’s basically zero risk of irritation, even on those with skin conditions like psiorasis or rosacea, and a guarantee of smooth, supple, and sparkling skin. Hyaluronic Acid is commonly found in the most hydrating skincare products, like the Hydro Boost Gel-Cream by Neutrogena. This hydrating moisturizer is packed with plenty of Hyaluronic Acid to intensely moisturize the skin, reduce dry patches, and restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier… locking in moisture to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated for days. While Hydro Boost is definitely made with dry skin in mind, this gel-cream moisturizer uses the power of Hyaluronic Acid and Olive Extract to be mind-blowingly moisturizing on all skin types… and MIRA guests agree that Hyaluronic Acid is everything. Why do you need it for your skincare routine for dry skin? 91% say that Hydro Boost is hydrating and brightening, while 96% call it lightweight!

Glycolic Acid

T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum by Drunk Elephant
Source: Drunk Elephant

Exfoliation is essential for unclogging the pores, and acids are generally used for this process. However, those with excessive dryness understand the struggle of finding the best skincare ingredients that won’t cause further flakiness and irritation. The last thing you need in your skincare routine for dry skin is to strip essential moisture, and you can have your hydrating toner and apply it too with Glycolic Acid skincare products. What makes it so good for dry skin? Let a dermatologist tell you. “Of the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight,” Kenneth Howe, M.D told Glamour. That small molecular weight means “it's easy for it to penetrate your skin and be super effective,” and will sweep away all the dead skin cells with minimal risk of irritation or dryness. One of the best Glycolic Acid products for your dry skin? T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum by Drunk Elephant. It’s basically a late night party that features not only Glycolic Acid, but also Tartaric, Lactic, Citric, and Salicylic. They all work together to gently remove dead skin cells while improving tone and texture. Basically every skin issue is addressed in this Drunk Elephant skincare product, with Cactus Extract to soothe redness and sensitivity, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer for hydration, Virgin Marula Oil to create a youthful glow and more. Just listen to the MIRA reviews, with 94% of guests saying that T.L.C is hydrating and evens out skin tone.

Oily skin

Mandelic Acid

SUPERTONER Exfoliating Acid Solution Toner by GLAMGLOW
Source: GLAMGLOW

Your skincare routine for oily skin is going to be nuts about Mandelic Acid, which may or may not be a bad joke about how this alpha-hydoxy acid (AHA) is derived from almonds. Like all AHA’s, it deeply exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells, promote cell turnover, brighten and fade dark spots. What sets it apart, however, is that it’s much gentler on the skin than other acids of its kind… due to the fact that it has larger molecules that do not penetrate as deeply. Trust us, for oily skin that’s only one bad ingredient away from a breakout, Mandelic Acid is your new best friend. It’s also ultra-effective at removing excess oil from the skin without causing redness or stripping the good kind of sebum! SUPERTONER Exfoliating Acid Solution Toner by GLAMGLOW features Mandelic Acid, among many others, to exfoliate, clarify, and unclog pores for your most refined and radiant complexion. 100% of MIRA guests say it’s pore-minimizing and good for acne, and you’ll see why Mandelic Acid is the perfect ingredient for your skincare routine for oily skin.

Salicylic Acid

Clear Complexion Foaming Salicylic Acid Cleanser by Aveeno
Source: Aveeno

Anybody who deals with breakouts and excess oil knows the power of Salicylic Acid, and this ingredient had major influence last year. It was one of the top skincare ingredients of 2020, as this ultra-strong BHA (beta hydroxy acid) deeply penetrated people’s pores to exfoliate and remove oil, dirt, and dead skin - unclogging and treating Maskne breakouts. Not only will existing pimples disappear basically overnight with the right Salicylic Acid skincare products, you’ll also notice a reduction in sebum production and inflammation… two of the biggest downfalls with oily skin. There are countless Salicylic Acid cleansers, toners, and serums to choose from, but one of our personal favorites? Clear Complexion Foaming Salicylic Acid Cleanser by Aveeno. This face wash uses the acne-fighting ingredient to balance tone and texture while eliminating blemishes, and the MIRA reviews love this under $10 skincare product. 95% of the community says that Clear Complexion is pore-minimizing and brightening, while 92% say that it evens out skin tone. Try it for your skincare routine for oily skin!

Combination skin

Lactic Acid

Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment by Sunday Riley
Source: Sunday Riley

Combination skin is exactly what it sounds like - dry in some areas, and ultra-oily in others. What kind of acid can nourish every inch of your face without irritation? Lactic Acid. This acid is an essential in your skincare routine for combination skin, as it’s both an exfoliant and humectant that’s basically Glycolic Acid’s gentler cousin. Lactic Acid will remove dirt, blackheads, and oil, in addition to thickening the skin for less fine lines, wrinkles, and breakouts. It differs from Glycolic Acid in that the molecules are larger and don’t penetrate the skin quite as effectively - however, you’ll get younger, fresher, and more hydrated skin in no time! Start your skincare routine for combination skin with the Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment by Sunday Riley, which is formulated with Lactic Acid to hydrate and exfoliate the top layers of the skin to smooth texture while reducing fine lines and blemishes. You’ll even get a boost of brightness with Licorice and Lemongrass, and soothing effects from Prickly Pear Extract!

Malic Acid

Pro Collagen Marine Cream by Elemis
Source: Elemis

An apple a day, remember? That’s why your skincare routine for combination skin needs Malic Acid derived from apples. It’s gentle enough to bring practically zero risk of side effects - especially on your sometimes dry, sometimes oily skin - yet still exfoliates to perfection for a brighter, smoother, and more refined complexion. It easily banishes blemishes and fades dark spots, especially when used alongside other AHA’s like Glycolic and Lactic acids, and balances the skin’s pH while pulling double-duty as a hydrating ingredient. Not bad, right? Pro Collagen Marine Cream by Elemis gives you a fix of Malic Acid - alongside powerful marine and plant actives to cleanse, hydrate, and nourish your combination skin like never before. A clinical study showed that this cream improves hydration by up to 248% (!) in just 1 hour while reducing fine lines in just 2 weeks, and your combination skin won’t be able to get enough!

Mature Skin

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer by Dr. Dennis Gross
Source: Dr. Dennis Gross

Imagine an all-powerful antioxidant that fights off free radical, blue light, and other environmental damage to prevent and repair skin aging. That’s Ferulic Acid. Your skincare products for mature skin need to feature this acid, which does everything from reduce fine lines and wrinkles to fade dark spots for a youthful glow. One of our favorites? Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer by Dr. Dennis Gross. The main ingredients in this retinol cream are an anti-aging dream - with Ferulic Acid to provide antioxidant protection against sun damage and boost the effects of other vitamins, and ECG Complex™ (Ellagic Acid, Collagen, and Gallic Acid) to reduce dark spots and wrinkles while protecting against harmful free radicals. People of all ages and skin types can benefit from this Ferulic Acid-infused moisturizer, but it’s especially good for mature skin - with 93% of MIRA guests with this skin type who approve of the Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer and say it has incredible anti-aging properties.

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% solution by The Ordinary
Source: The Ordinary

All you need to know is that Ascorbic Acid is just a fancy, water-soluble version of Vitamin C - your favorite brightening and anti-aging powerhouse that will bring your mature skin back to life. Say goodbye to fine lines, dark spots, dullness and other signs of aging with the Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% solution by The Ordinary - an incredibly simple yet effective serum that gives your complexion a youthful glow up. Or even just banishes pimples, because we all know that even those with mature skin still get them. “I have some hyperpigmentation and texture on my forehead and right cheek from acne, and this has done wonders,” one MIRA guest writes about this product… and 90% say that it evens out skin tone and relieves redness. You love your Vitamin C, and your new Ascorbic Acid products will be everything in your skincare routine for mature skin.

Shop all the best acids for your skin type on MIRA.