When it comes to skin ageing, research suggests only a small portion of it is caused by genetics, while the rest of it is due to environmental factors. While I strongly believe we are what we eat, youthful and glowing skin has a lot to do with our skin care regimen as well.
Fine lines, hyperpigmentation and dehydrated skin are part of our natural ageing processes that can be beautiful and rewarding as well (how lucky are we to get smile lines around the corners of our lips, right?), but let’s admit it, we’d all prefer to delay them as much as possible.
We can achieve incredible results by encouraging skin cell renewal through the use of alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids and enzymes, but which of them is the best? It all depends on your skin type and the issues you want to address.
Glycolic acid (AHA) penetrates deeply, prevents fine lines and hyperpigmentation
Glycolic acid penetrates the skin and loosens the ‘glue’ that keeps dead skin cells attached to new skin, causing our complexion to look dull and slowing skin cell renewal. It also helps skin retain moisture and produce more collagen, improving its elasticity, making it suitable for mature and dry skin.
When choosing an AHA-based product, we need to pay attention to the pH value of the product and the acid concentration. The lower the pH, the more effective the product will be, but it is also more likely to cause irritation. We usually look for a pH below 4 and a concentration between 7 and 10 percent.
- Dull complexion
- Hyperpigmentation and sun damage
- Dry and mature skin
- Fine lines
- Acne reduction
- Scar reduction
Salicylic acid (BHA) fights acne and clogged pores
Salicylic acid is oil soluble, making it very suitable for oily skin types and helping it penetrate through sebum build-up, which is why it is commonly used in products intended for acne-prone skin and why it deep-cleanses pores efficiently. It cannot, however, penetrate as deeply into the skin as glycolic acid does. It also helps prevent inflammation of the skin and is antibacterial, increasing its effectiveness against acne.
Look for products with a pH value below 3,5 and a salicylic acid concentration between 1 and 2 percent.
- Oily skin
- Unclogging pores and removing blackheads
- Preventing pimples
Enzymes are safe for sensitive skin
Enzymes that are derived from fruits such as papaya and pineapple are gentler than acids and penetrate only the top layers of skin. They do, however, soften the skin and are gentle in removing dead skin build-up. Enzymes are ideal for sensitive skin or as an addition to AHA ad BHA treatments, but for seriously transformational results, go for the acids.
- Sensitive skin
- Softening the skin
- Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel – Contains fermented pumpkin enzymes to deep-clean pores and remove dead skin cells.
- Pixi Glow – contains 5% glycolic but has a relatively high pH (around pH 5), making it gentle and suitable for daily use.
- Alpha-H Liquid Gold – contains 5% glycolic acid and has a low pH to maximise effectiveness.
- Michael Todd Organic Lemon AHA + DMAE Toner – contains a wide spectre of AHAs, including glycolic, lactic and malic acid, as well as salicylic acid in the form of black willow bark. Sugar cane and maple sugar extracts promote additional exfoliation.
Serums And Moisturisers
- Oskia Renaissance BrightLight serum – formulated to fight hyperpigmentation and dark spots with ingredients such as passion fruit and grape AHAs, as well as pumpkin and papaya enzymes.