How can you tell if your acne prone skin is too sensitive for acids?

How does your skin react after using an acid? Tingling, irritation, a red or burning sensation, and an overall tight feeling? If so, these are indications that your acne-prone skin may be too sensitive for acids, suggesting a compromise in your skin barrier function.

The skin barrier operates optimally when it maintains a slightly acidic pH (between 4.5 and 5.5). Within this pH range, beneficial bacteria thrive, while harmful bacteria are inhibited. Using products with a similar level of acidity helps sustain this optimum pH, keeping the skin balanced and healthy.

Acids in skincare require a specific pH to be effective. A higher pH diminishes their efficacy, while a lower pH can lead to severe damage to the skin. This critical pH level is known as the acid dissociation constant or pKa. For some acids, the pKa values are as follows: Lactic: 3.86, Glycolic: 3.83, Mandelic: 3.41, Malic: 3.40, Salicylic: 2.97 

While some acids have a pH closer to the ideal skin pH and are less irritating, all acids can cause some degree of damage to the skin barrier. However, with proper use, the skin barrier repairs itself between applications. Overuse, on the other hand, prevents adequate repair, leading to increased inflammation and irritation with each application. If the skin barrier is already compromised, nearly any application can result in irritation.

Acids offer significant benefits for various skin issues, including acne, pigmentation, and minor scarring, but only when used correctly. The key advice is simple: avoid overusing acids and incorporate a skincare plan that focuses on hydrating and repairing the skin barrier alongside acid use.

Our 28 Day Skin plans utilise a combination of 2% Salicylic acid, Liquorice Root Extract, and Niacinamide to aid in skin barrier repair. Additionally, we consistently follow up with our Skin Repair Serum, which includes 5% Niacinamide, 2% NAG, 1% zinc, and an amino acid complex, ensuring that the skin is left happy and well-cared-for after acid application.

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