Acids are used in many skincare products, from anti-acne products to toners. So, which ones will work best for you and your skin’s unique needs? While there are several beneficial acids, two of our Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts’ favorites are salicylic and glycolic acids. Each plays a valuable role in skin care, and knowing the essential differences will help you achieve clinic-level visible results from the comfort of your home.

What Is Salicylic Acid

Two types of hydroxy acids are most commonly used in skincare: AHAs and BHAs. You can find both in various cleansers, toners, and moisturizers. However, they work very differently. Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid). BHAs penetrate deep into the hair follicles of your skin and work on drying out excess oils and dead skin cells. Salicylic acid breaks down the connections between the cells to unclog pores and is often applied to combination and oily skin to minimize sun damage and control/prevent acne.1 In lower concentrations, salicylic acid may also be used to help calm sensitive skin.

What Is Glycolic Acid

Unlike salicylic acid, glycolic acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). Made from sugar cane, it is a highly effective exfoliator, making it an excellent option for treating various skin concerns. Glycolic acid also contains antimicrobial properties, which may help minimize acne breakouts. The unique thing about glycolic acids is that it has tiny molecules. The size of these molecules allows them to penetrate the skin easily. Once glycolic acid enters the skin cells, it stimulates collagen and loosens the bond between old, dead skin, making it easier to slough. Off 2. The result is fresh, glowing, youthful-looking skin. When searching for a glycolic acid product to incorporate into your skincare regimen, we recommend starting with something like the KateCeuticals(tm) Resurfacing Overnight Peel. An at-home clinical-grade overnight peel, it’s expertly formulated with proven anti-aging ingredients Retinol, Glycolic Acid, Niacinamide, and vitamin E to address the comprehensive signs of aging, improving luminosity, fine lines, and skin texture in just one use.

An Overview of Their Benefits

Still a little unclear about the benefits of these two acids? Use the guide below as a starting point when determining which to use.

When Should You Use Salicylic Acid

Because Salicylic acid is a BHA, it works on the skin’s surface and inside the pores. Here are some of its most common uses.

Acne: Salicylic acid’s natural anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties make it helpful in treating blackheads and acne. This acid works to exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and balance your skin’s oil production, all of which help minimize breakouts. The Kate Somerville EradiKate(tm) Acne Gel Cleanser and Acne Mark Fading Gel are formulated with Salicylic Acid to help break the persistent acne cycle while restoring a healthy skin barrier. Our all-over Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment lotion is also an effective blemish banisher.

Oily Skin: Salicylic acids are oil-soluble, making them an excellent ingredient for combination and oily skin use. Its lightweight nature balances the skin’s natural oil production without clogging pores. This leads to fewer blemishes, bumps, enlarged and clogged pores.

Redness: BHAs have natural soothing properties that are gentle enough for sensitive skin prone to irritation, visible redness, and rosacea. Regular application of this ingredient can reduce visible redness and irritation.

When Should You Use Glycolic Acid

An effective exfoliator, glycolic acid is the most famous AHA for a reason. You can find this in a few forms, such as glycolic acid serum, toner, or face wash. Here are its most commonly sought-after benefits.

Mild Hyperpigmentation: AHAs like glycolic acid can effectively treat mild cases of hyperpigmentation, which can help to produce a more even skin tone.

Enlarged Pores: We mentioned that glycolic acid contains some of the most petite molecule sizes of any AHA, so it can easily penetrate the skin. By loosening the bonds of dead, aged skin cells from the surface of your skin, your complexion will appear more youthful and your pores smaller.

Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Glycolic acid contains exfoliating properties and hydrates the skin. Both of these properties help firm the skin, soften it, and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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