Acids: Not As Scary As You Think

On Tumblr, I’ve been recently getting a lot of questions regarding Glossier’s use of acids in their products – as well as questions in general, & a lot of people wondering if acid in a product make it bad for your skin.

Guess what! That’s a myth. Acid sounds scary,  However – there are so many types of acids that you can use on your face; they’re all different & each one has a benefit! Acid is a word that’s been given many negative connotations, for real reasons. But! These aren’t the kinds I’m talking about.  If you pick the right “acids” to use on your face, chances are your skin will thank you. It might even seriously change your beauty routine in a positive way!

So! Here’s some education about some products I own that either contain acids, or are just acids in & of themselves.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%. 


This product is so, so, so good. It even made the cut for Into The Gloss’s May picks of the month. This acid works as a chemical exfoliant – it’s basically a chemical peel you can use at home, rather than get at your dermatologist’s office. That means that it’s a lot more gentle, more subtle – & less harmful to your skin. Yes, the lactic acid removes dead skin cells from your face – but it does so gradually, over time, so you never see any peeling skin – & never have to pick or scrub at your skin. It’s made my skin clearer, more transluscent, & even made my features more defined. What’s the HA? That’s Hyaluronic Acid – an acid that simply plumps & moisturizes your skin. In other words, it goes against any stereotype of acid you may have in your mind! Hyaluronic Acid is contained in serums (Glossier’s Super Bounce, for example) moisturizers far & wide (Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer) & yes, as add-ons to other acids. The 2% of Hyaluronic acid in this product helps prevent dryness & redness – even on my sensitive skin. I love this product so much that I’ll be moving up to the 10% version as soon as I’m out of this vial.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer 


Remember the HA (Hyaluronic Acid) I just mentioned in the product above? That’s right…hyaluronic acid is found in this innocent tube of moisturizer, too. &, according to Into The Gloss, this is most certainly not the only moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid. In fact, “chances are you’ve been using products chock-full of HA for years now without knowing it.”

That’s not a bad thing…at all. Actually, it’s good. Hyaluronic acid is a sugary molecule that’s actually found inside your body (mainly in connective tissues & in-skin’s structure). In your body, HA works to help your body retain moisture, as well as lubricate your joints.

On your face? Hyaluronic acid works to reduce redness, provide an extra shot of moisture that continues to deliver all day, (like I said, HA helps your body retain moisture – so it does the same for the skin on your face) & keeps your face looking plump & young.

Acid sounds like a scary word. But whatever skin care products you use, whether it’s CeraVe moisturizer from your local Walgreens, or a cream from La Mer – it’s more likely than not that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient – & that you’ve been using acids on your face for years without even knowing it! (& yes. They help.)

Sunday Riley U.F.O Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil

What I like to call my evil potion – the oil really is a green color, it’s not the bottle! –  that soothes, clarifies, & has a powerful yet comforting smell. 

That’s right – acid, found in an oil – u ually thought of as one of the most moisturizing products out there. Well, that’s not wrong. This oil is a “dry oil,” an oil that easily sinks into one’s skin, leaving it moisturized but not greasy (especially great for oily skin, but works amazingly well on me, too!). It contains 1.5% salicylic acid – this one you might be familiar with. Notorious for being used in products that serve as spot treatments (& often dangerously over-drying & painful if used in excess), salicylic acid is one of those original acids used to help acne & blemishes.

What’s amazing about this oil is that it contains salicylic acid, yes – but it also contains a variety of nourishing oils, like tea tree oil & black cumin seed oil, both of which cleanse & clear pores but don’t leave your skin parched as the Sahara Desert. The small percentage of salicylic acid combined with these clarifying yet nourishing oils makes it an ideal oil for oily/combo/troubled skin – but also amazing for someone like me, who comes across the occasional blemish & clogged pores – but can’t use different clarifying treatments as they’re too drying. I love using it at night, so all of its benefits sink deep into my skin as I sleep. Another reason to buy? It’s Harry Styles’ favorite. (But I bought it first. Justs saying.)

Drunk Elephant C-Firma™️ Day Serum


Vitamin C – one of the best things to use on acne scars, hyper-pigmentation, & dark spots. Vitamin C also brightens your skin & makes it look plumper & healthier. This serum, while containing Vitamin C (of course) also contains what DE calls their “Potent Antioxidant Complex.” This complex contains a whopping 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, & Ascorbic Acid & Vitamin E 1%, all of which work together to firm & brighten skin, as well as defending the skin against signs of photo aging, pollution, & other environmental stressors. (The Vitamin E is also an oil-type hydrator, hence the “oily”, not watery, consistency of this serum ). You can always trust Drunk Elephant with the latest, most complex, & most effective skin care chemistry, & this product is no different. The ingredients in the C-Firma serum work on your skin for up to 72 hours after application, sinking deep down so that even when you wash your face in the evening, C-Firma is still doing its job. This is a super-concentrated serum that contains a high percentage of acid – so it’s powerful! When first using, you may experience a little redness or irritation (I had a little of both) so Drunk Elephant recommends that you start out with diluting the product with something like Hyaluronic Acid, or just mixing it into your moisturizer. Either way? An amazing product that does excactly what it claims, & more.

The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution 

The Vampire Facial. 

AHAs – also known as Alpha Hydroxy Acids. AHAs are probably the most powerful acids I’ve personally used on my face, & they’re very beneficial, but you have to tread carefully. AHAs are found naturally in foods, as well as in your body – yes! acids are in your body & in what you eat, as well. AHAs are made up of several different acids: lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, & citric acid. Together, they work to remove dead skin cells from your face – what we call chemical exfoliation. That sounds really scary…but for someone with dry, sensitive skin (like me) chemical exfoliation is actually better for me than physical exfoliation! I don’t get microabrasions when I chemically exfoliate (I usually do if I use a sugar scrub, just one example of a physical exfoliant). Basically, AHAs are a great way to resurface, retexturize, & brighten your skin. They also decrease breakouts, & can help fade fine lines & wrinkles.

However…I did say you need to treat carefully with AHAs. This is because, if left on too long, they can burn your face. If used too often, they can seriously irritate your skin. You should be using an AHA product twice a week maximum. AHAs also increase your sensitivity to sun – so you must wear sunscreen when using an AHA (you should be anyway…but if you don’t, please do wear one when using an AHA product).

AHAs usually tingle or burn on your face when you apply them. That’s normal! They are penetrating your skin & removing dead skin cells, after all. However, if you have particularly sensitive skin, try to start slowly. Maybe you can dilute the product with a little water, or start off with a shorter application time. So – let’s move on to the first AHA product, The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

This is what I like to call the vampire facial. This stuff is blood red – & I mean blood red. Your face will look like a murder scene, but only for 15 minutes. Wash it off after that! 15 minutes is the maximum time this should be on your face, but if you’re nervous about hurting your skin, you can start out with 5-10 minutes! I started with 10 minutes, now use it for 15, & have no issues whatsover. Just be careful!

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial™

I saved my favorite acid product for last…it truly is my favorite one. Yes. It’s expensive. But it works more effectively (for me, at least) than the Ordinary’s peel (although if you want to try out an AHA without breaking the bank, give The Ordinary’s a go first! It is good…I just prefer Babyfacial).

This was the first AHA product I’d ever used, so the tingling sensation I previously mentioned was definitely a new (kind of funny – I couldn’t stop giggling) thing for me. Drunk Elephant’s site says to leave on for 20 minutes – but to start with 10 if you have sensitive skin – but as I’d gotten this as a sample, & been told by the Sephora skincare consultant to leave it on for 20, I went with the whole 20, unaware of the sensitive skin warning.

However – & this is a testament to the effectiveness yet gentleness of Drunk Elephant’s products – I had absolutely no problems immediately after removing, during the night, or the morning after. I just kept marveling at the smooth, soft texture of my skin. (My mama got annoyed at me because I kept coming up to her to say “LOOK!”) After two more tries with my sample in the next two weeks, I bit the bullet, & made the purchase.

The purchase was made in early March. I am nowhere near done with my bottle – & that’s because you only need 1-2 pumps, & aren’t supposed to use it more than twice a week. Since I alternate between the Babyfacial & some other AHA products like the Ordinary’s, sometimes I’ll go a week without it. My point is: the product lasts you a long time, it is air-tight, it is cruelty-free, fragrance-free, &, if you’re trying to decide on something to splurge on, I would tell you, out of all the things on my top shelf, to go with this one.

The Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, along with the mini sample of Virgin Marula Oil it comes with. It’s recommended you use a moisturizing product after using an AHA – it helps soothe your skin. The Marula Oil is a great one, but there’s many other cheaper facial oils that work just as well. 

And that’s it! That’s about all I have to say about acids. Basically…they’re a lot less scary than you think. They occur naturally in your body, & they can do a lot of things for the outside of your body, as well. Just make sure you do your research (like you should be doing with every product you put on your face or body!) & find what works best for you. &…if you’re going to use an AHA – WEAR SUNSCREEN! & then, enjoy your clearer, softer, more hydrated skin…all thanks to the variety of acids that may become a key part of your skin routine.


Sof ❤

  • If you want Babyfacial but don’t want to break the bank…here’s 20% off Drunk Elephant. That brings it down to $65…less painful.
  • As always, I’d love if you shopped with me at Glossier! If you want to try some of their products that contain acids, go for their Priming Moisturizer (mentioned here), which contains hyaluronic acid…& their Super Bounce Serum, which is a hyaluronic acid serum! Plumper, softer, more moisturized skin. 
  • These are affiliate links! I want to be always open & honest with you all. But by shopping with me at Glossier, you’re making it possible for me to get more products to review for all of you who might not know what to do for your face! 
  • As always, leave comments & questions! I love hearing from all of you.

11 thoughts on “Acids: Not As Scary As You Think

  1. have u tried the aha 30% and bha 2% solution (the red colored one)? I’m scared that the high concentration will be too much for slightly sensitive skin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i am so sorry!!! the article i initially published unintentionally left out the two AHA products i wanted to include. i’ve revised it now! they’re in there with some advice 🙂 i hope that helps


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