Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Exploring acids in cosmetics by Sophia DeVito
We have all heard that using cosmetics with acids in the summer is a big no. Many people have been told it can cause sun damage and do more harm than good. What if this is a myth? What if using acids during the summer months can help your skin? Many people are starting to realize that using glycolic acids and AHA can help protect your skin from the sun.
Let’s talk a little about acids that are commonly used. AHA is a popular acid in the cosmetic industry. AHA or alpha hydroxy acids are a group of molecules that can be used to exfoliate the skin for a fresh and refined look. It’s often used by those who want to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and have an overall younger-looking complexion. Glycolic acids can be used by everyone. It is a higher researched acid. It’s known for its ability to hydrate the skin but it also works by penetrating the skin to improve its overall appearance. Lactic acid is glycolic acid but the molecules are larger. Lactic acid takes a longer time to show results. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A. It gets added to skincare products to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to boost our natural collagen production creating plumper and more youthful-looking skin. While there are tons of other acids, these are the more commonly used ones in the cosmetic industry.
What does makeup do to your skin over time?
First, let’s begin with the myth out there that says acids used in cosmetics in the summer can damage the skin. Irena Jokšienė, the founder of ODA, a popular cosmetic company in Lithuania, says it’s suspected that it started from the inappropriate use of products with acids. The use of multiple products mixed with acids and direct sun exposure without sunscreen can increase the sensitivity of the skin. However, doing things like a chemical peel can have a photoprotective effect on the skin. Photoprotection is a biochemical process that helps organisms cope with molecular damage to the skin. Humans have developed this process to avoid UV damage to the skin. It’s a pretty cool process.
ODA was created by Irena to help restore the condition of healthy skin and regulate its systems. She has been involved in the production and manufacturing for over 10 years. “Acid cleanses the skin, clears up acne and speeds up the absorption of any other active ingredients in the products, it triggers the skin to work,” says Irena.
There are benefits to using acids in the summer. Even if you live in places like Florida where the UV index reaches 11 some days, you can still use products with glycolic acid without worry. Irena suggests staying clear of getting procedures like chemical peels during the hottest months if you permanently reside in areas like Florida. Chemical peels are organic-based procedures done to help restore the skin and remove any various skin defects. Defects such as scars, pigmentation, dark spots, acne, etc. They can be very beneficial when done properly and regularly.
While AHA doesn’t protect your skin from the sun itself, they do help it. Irena says, “AHA strengthens and regulates the processes on which protective skin functions depend.” AHA products also increase the skin's absorption of Vitamin D, an essential vitamin. The acid increases the skin's permeability and the absorption of the skin's active ingredients of other higher weight molecules. An American study found that products that contain 5% concentration level of lactic or glycolic acid, created reliable protection against the sun. This study also found that 48 hours after use, there was a 20% decrease in their skin inflammation and redness.
Products containing acids can help prevent acne, avoid skin pigmentation, and protect from unwanted sun exposure. And while they can be used in the warm months, I wouldn’t apply them right before you go to lay on the beach. Be smart about the products you are combining. If you aren’t sure, check with a local esthetician. I recommend using sunscreen if you plan to be out in the sun, but don’t be afraid to keep using your favorite AHA acids in the summer. They’re here to help, not harm.