I take my skincare very, seriously. More so in the last year because the signs of aging and sun damage are compounding. I thought what I was using was a good regime until I started reading everything I could find on the subject. Today I’m sharing some of the best skincare acids for midlife skin that are making a difference for me.
Acids may sound like a scary thing to put on your face but they’re real game-changers and are some of the best ingredients you can add to your skincare at midlife. Here is the alphabet soup of acids I now use in my skincare regime.
Also known as Retin A or Retinoic Acid. I’ve used Vitamin A on my skin in one form or another for the last 30+ years. Healthline reports that “topical retinoids stimulate collagen production, making them effective at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They can also help to even out skin tone by fading age spots.”
It works and I can’t imagine a complete skincare regime without a retinoid product. There is no end to the number of great over-the-counter retinoids that Healthline breaks down here. I now get my Vitamin A as part of a formulation specially made for me by Curology.
Vitamin C is a terrific anti-oxidant that helps brighten the skin and fade uneven pigmentation. The L-ascorbic acid form is the most common but it’s often unstable so it’s formulated with ingredients to keep it from oxidizing. If you have sensitive skin, you can read here about some vitamin C derivatives that may be gentler on your skin.
You can spend a fortune on vitamin C serums but there are plenty of affordable ones available. I’ve tried many and my current favorite is this Glow Factor by MAELOVE. I started using this SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic until I discovered the MAELOVE has an almost identical ingredient list at less than a quarter of the price. It’s so affordable, I also use it on my neck, chest, and the back of my hands.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Salicylic Acid (BHA)
These are both exfoliants to help clear out our pores and remove dead skin from the surface. I love this Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial AHA + BHA Mask. It’s not for the faint of heart because it burns like the dickens when it’s on, but it’s amazing at cleaning out my pores. It almost feels like a vacuum got in there and removed all the gunk.
Birdies talks here about AHA vs BHA with two board-certified dermatologists and shares an easy- to follow guide to figure out the differences plus how to choose the right option for your skin.
My dermatologist introduced me to this one to help calm down my rosacea. It’s also reported to help fade dark spots and the erythema you can get from old blemishes or eruptions on the skin. She gave me RX strength 15% Azelaic Acid which works like magic. When I’m not having a particularly bad rosacea outbreak that needs the big guns, I use a 10% over-the-counter version.
Here are some I’ve tried:
- I loved The Ordinary Azelaic Suspension 10%. Interestingly this is a Canadian brand but you can’t buy this product in Canada. It’s just $7.90, which is a steal and super easy to add right after the Vitamin C.
- This Paulas Choice 10% Azelaic Acid is very nice, and a touch more expensive at $36. I honestly don’t know which I prefer so I’ve kept using the less expensive one and save my money for other products.
I discovered this acid when I was looking for a safe, easy, peasy way to lighten the dark spots on the back of my hands. The first one I found was this Naturium Topical Acid 5%, which is the strength recommend as effective at fading dark spots. Two months ago I began applying several drops to the backs of my hand, morning and night. I’m just starting my second bottle and beginning to see results so this is a keeper for me.
Naturium calls Hyalauronic the ultimate hydrator. Hyaluronic acid’s topical benefits read like a laundry list of skin care goals: Moisturizing, plumping, softening, glow-inducing—the list goes on. All of these benefits stem from hyaluronic acid’s humectant properties, which help keep skin supple and healthy.
It can currently hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. I am currently using this MAELOVE B5 Hydrator Gel and love it. The price is right and it goes on easily with no smell.
Of course, now I’m curious and ordered the Naturium Quadruple Hyaluronic -Acid Serum 5% which contains “very low, low, medium and high molecular weight pure hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate the skin on multiple levels for maximum, skin-plumping moisturization”.
Face acids that should not be used together
I am not an expert by any means but these are the ones I know not to combine-
- AHA and Retinoids are both exfoliants and can be too harsh to layer. I use one in the am and one in the pm.
- Vitamin C and retinoids are best when used at different times of the day for the same reason.
- Vitamin C is a big no-no with AHA and BHA because they’re both strong and could irritate your skin.
- Azelaic acid is safe to be used with all other acids.
- Hyaluronic acid plays nicely with retinol and vitamin c, and all other acids.
- Tranexamic Acid is also safe to use with other acids.
Instyle magazine has a pretty extensive write up on skincare ingredients you should and should not mix.
The best skincare acids for wrinkles and skin over 50
- Tretinoin, also known as Retinoic Acid is at the top of the list and is the gold standard for reducing wrinkle depth, increasing collagen production, and fading dark spots. Retinols are weaker versions of retinoic acid and can achieve similar but less effective results. It also causes less peeling and is more easily tolerated by your skin.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids have shown effectiveness at treating photoaging, reducing wrinkles, clearing pores, and improving skin elasticity, tone, and hydration. They’re exfoliants that work by sloughing off the outer layer of dead skin, revealing fresher new skin. The larger molecule, the gentler they are on your skin because they don’t penetrate as deeply. These include from largest to smallest-
- Hyaluronic Acid is not your ordinary acid. It’s a powerful humectant that visibly reduces dryness by bringing moisture to the surface of your skin. It’s a sugar molecule found in our skin that helps bind water to collagen and visibly plumps out skin. I have to admit, I love them all! They’re best layered on before your moisturizer and can be added on throughout the day.
- Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that fights free radicals in your skin, helps fade brown spots and brighten your complexion. The best ones are formulated with ingredients to stabilize the highly unstable L-ascorbic acid. My favorites include Skin Ceuticals C E Ferulic (pricey), and Glow Factor by MAELOVE.
What acids have you added to your skincare routine?