Get to Know Your Skincare Acids

2 comments by Michelle Li

Lately, we’ve seen the rise of more skincare acids landing in K-beauty. There’s a reason why so many of us are falling in love with them. But as much as we all are, I’m sure there are also a lot of you who are scared to try it, especially if you have sensitive skin (me included!) Not going to lie, it does sound scary. There seems to be so many cautions that we might want to put off using acids altogether but let’s not forget the benefits it has! 


First, let’s start out with chemical exfoliants - AHA, BHA, PHA and recently even LHA has come about. To say it simply, AHA and PHA are great if you have a dry and/or sensitive skin type to slough off flaky and dry patches. BHA and LHA are able to reach deeper into the skin to help unclog and minimise the appearance of pores. But there's also another acid, Vitamin C ✨ High in antioxidants which not only strengthens the skin and protects against environmental stressors but it’s also a great brightening ingredient. It’s able to fade sunspots, age spots, acne scars and other forms of hyperpigmentation. Lastly, retinol has increasingly become a hot topic. Retinol can be quite an irritating ingredient which is why you’ll often find it paired with soothing ingredients in K-beauty. Retinol is amazing at skin cell regeneration as well as increasing collagen production. It’s a huge prevention for many skin concerns - think aging, acne, hyperpigmentation!

These are just the most common acids and their benefits to name a few. Of course, they come with a lot more benefits! So instead of having the fear of missing out, I thought I would give you all the tips when using acids so you aren’t worrying about skin becoming red and irritated. After this, I’m sure you will be more inclined to try it out 😉

Start Slow and Low

Beauty of Joseon Revive Eye Serum: Ginseng + Retinal

The best way to prevent irritation is to always start slow AND with a low percentage. It’s also a good idea to do a patch test first (find out how to here). It may be tempting just to choose a product with the highest percentage but it can do more harm than good. Start with a low percentage and gradually build your way up. This is the same with how many times you use it too! Begin with using it 1-2 times a week and making sure your skin isn’t irritated or breakouts come about before increasing. Don’t be confused with purging though! It may happen if you haven’t used acids before. But purging should just be very small breakouts and aren’t super inflamed either.

Careful When Mixing

COSRX Refresh AHA BHA Vitamin C Daily Cream

Remember acids should not be used together. Using them together can sensitise the skin, especially if you already have sensitive skin. By using it at the same time, it can weaken the skin barrier which causes loss of hydration, brings about acne and it’s inability to protect itself from environmental stressors. But what if we want to get all the benefits? Thankfully, K-beauty skincare products have combined them together in one product. A gentle formula is created yet you still get the effectiveness! 

Acids at Night Except Vitamin C 

By Wishtrend Vitamin A-Mazing Bakuchiol Night Cream

Another tip to remember is to try your best to use acids at night. If your skin can handle using it in the morning, just make sure to apply sunscreen, and it’s just as important to reapply too! Again, this ensures your skin doesn't become irritated. There is one acid ingredient exception to this rule and that’s with vitamin C. Studies have shown that using vitamin C in the morning, along with sunscreen actually protects the skin even better from UV rays. If you can further protect your skin more than sunscreen itself just with vitamin C, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to use it in the morning! 

Beauties, Extra Care Here

One more tip to add for our Beauties who are going through their pregnancy journey or are currently nursing, retinol and chemical exfoliants should not be used during this time. Though, vitamin C is totally okay if you would like a brightening glow!


I hope this rundown and the caution you should take gives you a better understanding of acids and how to use them! Just remember that all skin types are different so each ingredient may be more beneficial for you than the other. Be patient and treat your skin with care for the best results 💕

Thanks for reading and good luck Beauties!  


  • Michelle

    Hi Delilah,

    So happy that you found this article helpful!

    Thanks for reading 💓

  • Delilah Basabas

    Thanks for the informative article and gives me good reference on what acid to use.

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