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Different types of exfoliating skincare acids and who they're best for

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Different types of exfoliating skincare acids and who they're best for
So, if you've read our Skincare Diaries: Part 1 'Exfoliating Acids in Skincare- what you need to know' then you know your AHAs from your BHAs - now let's get to work on the specifics. Here’s a rundown on the three most universally touted alpha and beta –hydroxy’s that you’re likely to come across on your journey into acid discovery. In this blog post, we're going to share the different type of exfoliating skincare acids and who they're best for.

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Derived from sugar cane, Glycolic is an AHA with the simplest and smallest structure of its kind but arguably, the most powerful. Its low molecular weight means it can easily penetrate the skin with super effective results, alongside next level exfoliating abilities that help shed dead skin cells, leaving the newer, brighter layers on show. Thanks to that small molecular makeup, collagen production is increased, meaning you can say hello to radiant, plump and firm skin. 

Best for: Normal, Combination or Oily skin. 


Originally sourced from milk, Lactic acid is Glycolic’s gentler little sister. With a larger molecular make up meaning a milder impact on the skin, it’s perfect for helping to hydrate and brighten more sensitive complexions. 

Synthetic versions offer better stability and make for a vegan – friendly alternative, whilst being less likely to interfere with the PH of your skin than it’s stronger counterparts. 

Best for: Sensitive skin


Acne and blackhead sufferers – this one’s for you. Salicylic acid is a form of BHA that really gets to work on pores, rather than just addressing more surface concerns. Working on a deeper level, this anti-inflammatory agent can be found in almost every expert spot treatment and is a godsend for oily skin. Being oil-soluble themselves (unlike their AHA counterparts), Salicylic acids have a deeper access to the skin that allows them to work on de-clogging pores, removing sebum and oil -all MAJOR causes of breakouts.

Best for: Oily and blemish-prone skin


The Acid Expert

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Now, you’ve figured when you should be using your Lactic rather than Glycolic, but you want to know more… you dream of being able to suggest a niche acid-based product on the girls’ WhatsApp to reaffirm your status as “the skincare queen” of the group. We’ve got you. Here are some of the lesser-known AHAs on the market that can really supercharge your routine when paired with one of the main acid attractions.  Think of them as what a large glass of wine is to your Sunday night bubble bath… the bath’s great on it’s own, right? But that glass of ice-cold rosé makes it a whole lot better. 


Spot-prone skin sufferers, listen up. Mandelic acid, derived from bitter almonds, accelerates cell turnover whilst exfoliating away dead skin, making fine lines and dull complexions a thing of the past. Not only a leader in anti-aging, Mandelic acid actually reduces the production of sebum, making your face a shine-free zone. 

Best for: Spot-prone yet sensitive skin 


Sourced from apples - remember what your mum told you about an apple a day!? - Malic acid is one of the gentler acids out there, but an essential in your regime all the same. Touted for its serious brightening abilities, Malic acid has a larger molecular make up than Lactic and Glycolic, decreasing its penetration of the skin and making it therefore, a less intense option. Here at Luneia, we love to team it with Vitamin C for a double brightness boost. 

Best for: Skin that lacks radiance 


Antioxidant rich and your go-to for lessening signs of sun damage (although, never skimp on the SPF!) this fruit-derived acid is the perfect addition to take your exfoliation game to the next level. And you thought lemons and limes were only useful for your G&T… 

Best for: Oily and more blemish-prone skin 


Now, if you REALLY want to impress your friends…  

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Meet the next generation of acids. With larger molecules than their alpha-hydroxy counterparts, they – you guessed it – have a gentler approach with less risk of irritation. With all the benefits of their stronger alternatives, PHAs work slowly on the surface and are great at strengthening the barrier of all skin types. The most common types known by industry insiders are gluconolactone, lactobionic and maltobionic, so they’re a great place to start your Google search. 

Best for: Just about everyone, especially those with sensitive skin. 

Azelaic Acid

By this point, you’re basically an expert on acids, but Azelaic is definitely one to have on your radar. Derived from yeast (okay, it doesn’t sound that sexy… we know, but bare with us), Azeliac acid is proven to be of huge help to rosacea and acne sufferers, largely due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Suitable for use both day and night, just make sure you pair with your favourite moisturiser to minimise any dry patches. 

Best for: Acne and Rosacea sufferers. 


Let us know which you think is best for you skin type by connecting with us on Insta! And make sure you check out our Radiance Ritual face mask which contains a potent blend of glycolic & salicylic acids. These acids are gentle liquid exfoliants and work in tandem to simultaneously improve the skin’s surface and its pore lining.

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