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

Posted by Lucy Hitchcock on
Different types of exfoliating skincare acids and who they're best for
If you've read our Skincare Diaries: Part 1 'Exfoliating Acids in Skincare- what you need to know' then you understand AHAs from your BHAs.
We have shared information on the three most universally touted alpha and beta –hydroxy’s that you are likely to come across on your journey into acid discovery. In this blog post, we are going to share the different types of exfoliating skincare acids and who they will work best for.

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Derived from sugar cane, Glycolic is an AHA with the simplest and smallest structure of its kind and arguably the most powerful. Its low molecular weight can easily penetrate the skin with effective results, alongside exfoliating abilities that help shed dead skin cells, leaving the newer, brighter layers on show. The small molecular makeup of Glycolic increases collagen production and leaves you with radiant and firm skin. 

Best for: Normal, Combination or Oily skin. 


Originally sourced from milk, Lactic acid is known to be more gentle than Glycolic. With a larger molecular make up it has a milder impact on the skin and is perfect for brightening sensitive complexions.  

Synthetic versions offer better stability for a vegan – friendly alternative and is less likely to interfere with the PH of your skin than its stronger counterparts. 

Best for: Sensitive skin


Salicylic acid is a form of BHA that work on pores, acne prone skin and blackheads. Working on a deeper level, this anti-inflammatory agent can be found in almost every expert spot treatment and products 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 causes of breakouts. 

Best for: Oily and blemish-prone skin


The Acid Expert

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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.


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. Mandelic acid reduces the production of sebum, making your face a shine-free zone and helps aid your skin to age-well.

Best for: Spot-prone yet sensitive skin 


Sourced from apples, Malic acid is one of the gentler acids out there and an essential in your skincare regime. Touted for its brightening abilities, Malic acid has a larger molecular makeup than Lactic and Glycolic, decreasing its penetration of the skin and making it therefore, a less intense option. At Luneia, we love to team it with Vitamin C for a double brightness boost. 

Best for: Skin that lacks radiance 


Antioxidant rich and an ingredient that lessening signs of sun damage, this fruit-derived acid is the perfect addition to take your exfoliation game to the next level. 


Best for: Oily and more blemish-prone skin 


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With larger molecules than their alpha-hydroxy counterparts, these acids 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. 

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

Azelaic Acid

Derived from yeast, 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. 


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. 

Let us know which you think is best for you skin type by connecting with us on our Instagram @luneia 

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