If you’ve ever felt like running for dear life at the mere mention of the words ‘Acid Peel’ then I’m here to set the record straight.
Yas Queen… back away from the ledge because the acids that I’m referring to won't have you looking like a zombie extra from the movie World War Z. In fact, despite its connotation, many ‘acids’ used in skincare don’t actually make your skin peel at all and should absolutely be a staple inclusion in your weekly skincare routine.
Take AHA’s and BHA’s for example… you may be noticing them popping up in all types of skincare from cleansers, to moisturisers, serums and spot treatments. They are chemical exfoliators derived from natural substances such as sugarcane, citrus fruits, apples and milk to name a few.
They work by breaking down the lipid matrix secreted by the skin; a cement-like bond that holds dead skin cells together, encouraging the skin’s natural shedding process. Basically, AHA’s and BHA’s make your skin ‘act’ younger by speeding up the entire metabolic cycle of the skin so that on the surface it will look super smooth and totally glowing with hydration… GORG!
So what exactly are AHA’s & BHA’s?... I’m glad you asked!
AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acid; an umbrella term used for a class of acids mostly derived from fruits but can also be made from nuts and milk! As I mentioned earlier, AHA’s work by dissolving the ‘glue’ that cements the dead skin cells together, allowing them to slough off more efficiently.
There are a handful of different types of AHA’s used for skin management including Malic, Mandelic, Tartaric and Citric acids, each with their own unique characteristics but two others reign supreme when it comes to popularity:
Glycolic Acid: Derived from sugarcane, this is one of the most commonly used AHAs in skin care. It’s small molecular size and high water solubility means that it has excellent skin penetrating capabilities making it a powerful ally in the fight against wrinkles, scarring and other skin conditions such as actinic keratosis (scaly skin patches caused by sun damage) and hyperkeratosis ( a condition that occurs when a person’s skin becomes thickened in certain places, usually as a result of inflammation, a protective response to pressure or a genetic condition).
Glycolic Acid also works as a tyrosinase inhibitor meaning that it can suppress the formation of melanin helping to reduce hyperpigmentation, and giving the skin a brighter appearance however all these superpowers don’t come without a downside. Although Glycolic Acid is the strongest of all the AHAs, it’s also the most irritating so not a great choice for sensitive skins.
Lactic Acid: Another commonly used AHA but this time derived from dairy products. Think about that ‘tangy’ hit you get every time you take a mouthful of yoghurt or Cleopatra and her famous ‘Milk baths’ (that story is no myth!)... the girl was totally clued-up because she knew that the Lactic Acid in the fermented milk would give her skin some seriously smooth hydration.
Unlike Glycolic Acid though; Lactic Acid’s large molecular structure means that it is slow to penetrate into the skin, sidestepping the initial shock reaction caused by other acids. Being less irritating makes it the perfect choice for a sensitive skin and being a proven skin conditioner, Lactic Acid boosts the skin’s Hyaluronic Acid levels, increasing hydration and strengthening the skin’s natural protective barrier. It’s also a definite go-to option for anyone suffering eczema, psoriasis or sensitivity caused by acne.
BHA stands for Beta-Hydroxy Acid; an umbrella term for a class of acids derived from wintergreen leaves, willow tree bark or sweet birch bark. BHA’s work similar to AHA’s in dissolving the glue that cements dead skin cells together but the big different is that BHA’s are ‘oil soluble’ which allows them to also penetrate into the skin through the sebaceous follicles, cleaning out oily or blocked pores by breaking down the keratin plugs and slowing down the accumulation of oil and dead skin build-up that blocks them.
There are only a few BHA’s used in skincare. Betaine Salicylate derived from sugar beets, Salix Alba, a very mild BHA extracted from willow bark and finally Salicylic Acid; the most commonly used and strongest BHA, also derived from the bark of the willow tree but can also be found in fruits and vegetables.
Salicylic Acid: Being lipolytic (oil soluble), Salicylic Acid is a much better choice for anyone suffering from acne or clogged pores. The p-bacteria that causes acne loves to party in oily, suffocated environments. Not to gross you out or anything honey but if you have blocked pores and an oxygen deprived skin surface you are hosting the perfect breeding ground for little p-bacteria babies. They are literally getting jiggy with it all over your skin! Salicylic Acid oxygenates the skin by cleaning the pores from the inside out, flushing the surface with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that will help to break the acne cycle and shut that party down… lightbulb moment… YAS!
How do you incorporate AHAs and BHAs into your skincare routine?
If you have sensitive or acne skin: Try incorporating a low dose of AHA + BHA into your skincare routine once or twice a week. Australian Skin Institutes AHA Power Exfoliator uses a custom blend of both Glycolic and Lactic Acids to gently but effectively remove dead skin cells and encourage healthy skin metabolism. Applied as a mask for, this formula is infused with calming Chamomile so your skin will be kept soothed while the acids get to work.
For something with a little more kick, order up an ASI Pro Peel for sensitive skin. Formulated with premium professional strength ingredients, the sensitive skin formula contains 10% Lactic Acid to improve skin texture, stimulate collagen production and reduce hyperpigmentation and age spots while delivering a super boost of hydration without causing irritation.
If you want that super smooth, dewy glow: Definitely incorporate the AHA Power Exfoliator by ASI into your skincare routine at least twice or three times a week. Top this up with a daily application of Vitamin C Serum every morning… FYI, this serum doubles up as a make-up primer and feels sooo silky smooth!
Super charge your smoothness by adding in an ASI Pro Peel for youthful skin once every couple of weeks. The powerful formula contains 25% Glycolic Acid so it’s totally NOT recommended for sensitive skins or AHA first time newbies (try the sensitive skin ProPeel instead) but is definitely a winning choice for all other glow-luving kweens… omg. so. Obsessed.
If you prefer some anti-aging results: Then definitely start with adding the ASI AHA Power Exfoliator twice a week. Use Vitamin C Serum every morning under your daily moisturiser and Vitamin A Corrector every night. This routine alone will give you amazing anti-aging results by removing dead skin build-up, lightening hyperpigmentation and sun-damage and generally brightening the skin tone as well as encouraging the skin's metabolism to work faster, boosting collagen and elastin production to give you a firm and plump fine lines and wrinkles.
Add an ASI Pro Peel once a week or a few days before a special occasion for the ultimate anti-aging boost. This formula contains both 10% Lactic and 10% Glycolic and comes packaged with everything you need to give yourself a professional peel at home.