Facial Acids: How to Introduce Retinol and Acids Into Your Skincare Routine


Your skincare routine deserves a boost and using facial acids is the easiest way to rev it up. The use of facial acids on the skin, in safe concentrations, works by exfoliating the dead skin. It can further remove possible hyperpigmentation and tan. If products utilise the right acid then it can bring about anti-ageing benefits.

You can deal with many skin concerns easily and safely by incorporating facial acids into your skincare regime. These types of concerns can relate to environmental damage, diet, as well as the natural ageing process. But, do not let the word ‘acid’ in facial acids scare you from giving this popular skincare trend a try.

Facial Acids and the Ageing Process

Facial acids are sometimes called Chemical Peels. These products are applied to the skin in order to obtain desired results. In general, the skin endures the brunt of various environmental factors like sunlight (specifically UV rays), pollutants, and harmful chemicals in the water and air on a daily basis. Other factors such as unhealthy diet, lack of necessary vitamins, and hormonal imbalance also impact skin health. Overall, these external and internal factors bring about changes in the regularity of the processes carried out by the skin and also in its texture. 

The result? The skin can become darker, dull, dry, or develop marks, spots, and acne. To add to all of these factors, the skin’s natural shedding process for the dead skin cells is interrupted. It begins to form a layer, which can result in the skin looking less supple and less youthful.

The ageing of the skin cells is another factor that causes unwarranted changes in the skin’s smoothness with fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin developing. Facial acids can help to combat these issues and we’ll show you how.

What Are Facial Acids?

Facial acids are chemical solutions that are formulated specifically to be used on the skin.

Fact: They may also be referred to as chemical peels or facial peels.

They usually come in varying concentrations, which usually ranges up to 30% to 40% acidity. The higher the concentration of the facial acid in the solution, the stronger the effect it is going to have on the skin.

The most common function of facial acids in cosmetology and skincare is to dissolve the dead skin cells. These tend to have accumulated on the skin and need removing efficiently and safely. Overall, the effects of exfoliating with facial acids are much more visible than physical exfoliants that are meant to be scrubbed on the skin.

Woman peeling away the results of a chemical peel/ facial acids.

What happens with facial acids?

The acidity of the peel detaches the built-up dead skin cells and keratin from the skin layers. Furthermore, it removes the top layers of the skin proficiently. This results in the skin feeling softer, smoother, as well as appearing and feeling plumper. Also, skin can even look more radiant.

Other results that work towards the improvement of the skin’s health can be positive. However, this does depend on what type of facial acid you use. In fact, facial acids can help improve circulation, reduce pigmentation of different types. It can even make the skin appear more young-looking and glowing.

The time duration for which a facial acid takes starts around five minutes. However, some may last up to 30 minutes. With successive sessions, the skin becomes more tolerant of the acid and can bear it for longer periods without being irritated easily.

Important: A patch test is mandatory to verify the skin’s suitability to a facial acid. Especially, before applying it to a larger area.  

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What Are The Benefits Of Using Facial Acids?

Facial acids come in many forms. However, each type comes with certain skin benefits listed below.


The dead skin cells that have built up on the skin and making it look dull and dark can be exfoliated easily.

get summer ready: model exfoliating her face with brown scrub.

Skin Brightening with Facial Acids


he thorough exfoliation achieved using facial acids brightens up the complexion and skin tone.

Removes Tan and Hyperpigmentation

UV rays increase melanin production in the skin causing the skin to develop a tan, dark spots, freckles, etc.  The use of facial acids can lighten these by removing the top, damaged layers of the skin.

Induces Collagen and Elastin

Collagen and elastin are important components that support skin structure. With this in mind, facial acids can be used to enhance their productivity in the skin and thus, improve the skin’s smoothness and flexibility.

Skin Hydration

Chemical peels can add hydration to the skin as well and make it look radiant from within.  The skin’s suppleness can return by exfoliating away any dead or dry skin cells.

Treat Acne with Facial Acids

The use of certain facial acids can unclog pores as well as exfoliate dead skin cells. Blackheads and whiteheads can be eliminated with regular peels whereas the occurrence of Acne can be reduced with regular peels.

woman applying product/possible facial acids to acne.

Lighten Acne Marks

Acne, in its beginner stages, can leave behind hyperpigmented marks on the skin. It’s said that using facial acids can effectively lighten and eventually fade these marks.

Anti-ageing with Facial Acids

Including facial acids into your skincare routine on a regular basis can tone the skin. It also works to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This results in skin that can appear youthful and plump.

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What Are The Different Types Of Facial Acids?

Primarily, facial acids belong to four major categories:

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Also termed as AHAs, these are the primary exfoliants when it comes to facial acids. They exert their effects on the top layers of the skin as they are well adept at removing the dead skin cells, debris, and excess keratin sitting on the skin.

They brighten up the complexion and also help in lightening superficial pigmentation caused due to sun damage, acne, etc. Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and mandelic acid.

Beta Hydroxy Acids

BHAs are oil-soluble facial acids and can seep beyond the superficial skin layers. They can penetrate up to the dermis level and aid in the process of unclogging pores.

Initial levels or grades of acne such as blackheads, whiteheads, and pustules can be treated with BHAs. Applying BHAs regularly can bring the excess oil production of the sebaceous glands under control.

A few examples of BHAs are salicylic acid, tropic acid, and trethocanic acid.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid naturally exists in skin cells. It is a natural humectant that retains moisture in the skin cells and keeps the skin plump and supple. 

As the skin cells age, the hyaluronic acid levels in the skin deplete. This then causes the skin to appear dry, dull, and with fine lines and wrinkles. It’s recommended that using topical application of this acid keeps the skin hydrated, youthful-looking, and healthy.

Retinoic Acid

A derivative of Vitamin A, retinoic acid is in skincare for its anti-ageing benefits. It improves skin texture and firmness by stimulating collagen and elastin. It also helps fight sun damage effects and reduces the appearance of large pores.

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How to Choose the Best Ones for Your Skin

Choosing the right facial acid depends on the skin problems that you wish to target. It also depends on the overall results that you wish to achieve. So, we have highlighted the key benefits of different facial acids so that you can choose the best one for your skin.

woman applying oil / facial acids to her cheek with a dropper.

Glycolic Acid

This facial acid penetrates easily into the skin and renders noticeable results even at a 10% concentration.  It helps to keep the skin glowing, removes tan, improves the skin’s texture, alleviates dryness, lightens blemishes, as well as making your complexion brighter.

Salicylic Acid

the ordinary salicylic acid solution bottle with white dropper.Salicylic acid helps bring down the levels of natural sebum produced by the oil glands in the skin. Therefore, it is commonly used to treat oily and acne-prone skin as it helps unclog pores and remove whiteheads and blackheads.

People with rosacea, keratosis pilaris, and milia can also use salicylic acid. This type of acid has anti-inflammatory properties.

Lactic Acid

Get smooth and firm skin by incorporating lactic acid into your skincare routine. Its use and popularity are why it is often an ingredient within night creams and lotions. It is perfect for various skin types, especially mature skin as it is full of plenty of anti-ageing benefits.

Suggested Article: Anti-Ageing Skincare Routine For Mature Skin.

Azelaic Acid

Used to treat moderate grade acne, azelaic acid causes thorough pore cleansing and reduces inflammation. It is effective in killing the acne-causing bacteria and through doing so it decreases the chances of acne developing in the future.

Hyaluronic Acid

This acid suits every skin type. It can help regain the natural contours of the face by plumping up the skin. It also helps to fill in fine lines as the hydration levels and elasticity increase.

Retinoic Acid

This type of facial acid is excellent for anti-ageing as it boosts collagen production in the skin. It also helps to tackle sun damage that builds up with age and improves skin cell turnover, which decelerates as you age.

Suggested Article: How to Use Retinol on Sensitive Skin.

woman having oil applied to face.

Kojic Acid

This facial acid particularly targets darkness and hyperpigmentation on the skin. It reduces the melanin production in the skin, which is responsible for imparting the skin with its colour. However, when used in excess, it can lead to darker spots or patches forming on the skin.

Mandelic Acid

This AHA exerts similar effects like glycolic acid on the skin, however, it is a gentler acid to use. So, people with sensitive skin can use this facial acid to reap the benefits of an AHA.

Trichloroacetic Acid

A high concentration of this facial acid is used to treat acne scars, specifically of the ice pick typeThe acid helps to fill in the deep, pinprick like scars caused by acne and even out the skin texture.


Extreme sun damage, deep wrinkles, and even precancerous growths can be treated with Phenol. It is a very strong acid that generates deep exfoliation.

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