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The Acid Test

If the previous year has taught us anything, it's that acids have become a major buzzword in the beauty industry. With so many of them doing so many different things, it's easy to become overwhelmed. Here's our no-nonsense guide to the ones making the biggest impact on skin.

The Basics 

Our skin has a thin, protective layer on its surface, referred to as the acid mantle. The pH level of our skin refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. On a scale of 1 - 14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline, 7 would be considered neutral for your skin. When it comes to acid-bases products, they will be working at levels closer to 3 and 3.5, so it's important to do your research. 

Ascorbic Acid (aka vitamin C) 
Vitamin C is not made in the body, so it's something that can only be taken in by the body, or applied topically. It's huge news in the beauty community right now, because it literally helps form our tissues, bones, blood vessels and of course, skin. It's also a powerful antioxidant, making it a winner in serums and creams that can be layered during the day or night. Soon after adding Vitamin C to a skincare regime, skin is brighter, more even and feels firmer. 

Capital Buy 
Pharmagel Eye Firmé Eye Gel. Give the delicate under-eye area a firming Collagen boost while keeping it protected with soothing Allantoin and anti-inflammatory Echinacea. 

Hyaluronic Acid 
Hyaluronic Acid molecules are able to carry 1,000 times their weight in water - which is why products containing the 'miracle' ingredient have bombarded the high street over the past five years. There are numerous Hyaluronic serums on the market, and they are most often used after cleansing, and before moisturising, so as to boost the moisturisers' hydrating properties and keep skin softer and smoother for longer. Often described as a 'smart' nutrient, Hyaluronic Acid adjusts its moisture absorption rate based on humidity, resulting in perfectly balanced and hydrated skin, wherever you are. 

Capital Buy 
BeautyPro Thermotherapy Warming Goil Foil Mask with Hyaluronic Acid & Q10. Use this when a major boost of hydration is needed. The self-warming properties of this 20-minute mask enable the ingredients to penetrate more easily into the skin, leaving it hydrated and smooth. Also, a very similar, man-friendly version is Barber Pro's Skin Renewing Foil Mask. 

Retinol (aka vitamin A) 
Retinol is what keeps skin looking youthful and plump and comes highly recommended by cosmetic doctors. Put simply, if you were to recommend one addition to your clients' skincare, it would be Retinol. 

Increasing the production of collagen - the primary component of the body's connective tissue - and elastin - the component that literally allows our skin to stretch and bounce - Retinol is also brilliant at fighting signs of ageing and sun damage. Known for being very fast-acting, it's important to look at the strength of the Retinol in the products you're recommending. It's definitely something that will require a layer of moisture on top when applied overnight, as it can cause dramatic dryness all over the face, particularly in already dry areas. 

Capital Buy 
HOF Retinol Vitamin A Night Cream. It's light, non-greasy and penetrates immediately. Or, add a few drops of HOF Retinol Anti-Aging Facial Oil to your existing moisturiser to boost it's effectiveness. 


No clue about the differences between Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)? Read on. 

The most common AHAs? 
Glycolic Acid: Celebrity facialist Caroline Hirons calls Glycolic 'a beast of an acid' and it's easy to understand why. The molecules are tine, meaning the ingredient can penetrate far deeper - which also means it can cause more irritation if you overdo it. Glycolic Acid gets right into the pores, decongesting them, getting rid of dead skin cells and repairing the look of skin that has been affected by ageing and sun damage. However, Glycolic Acid isn't always recommended when treating darker skins - instead you might be better working with Mandelic or Lactic Acid-based products. 

Lactic Acid: A milk-derived acid, and a bigger molecule, Lactic Acid is more gentle as it sits on the surface of the skin. It's known for leaving skin feeling smoother, softer, refreshed and ready to absorb any products that follow. Great for those with rosacea or sensitive skin. 

Mandelic Acid: This is the one to recommend for those with acne because it's anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It has the largest molecule of all the AHAs, meaning it's ideal for using over a longer period. 

So, what's the fuss with BHAs? 
When it comes to skincare, if you see BHA on a product, it will be Salicylic Acid, something that has long been a go-to for those with problem skin, thanks to its ability to exfoliate without causing irritation, redness or dryness. It's a great ingredient to use little and often, as its effects build up over time. While AHAs loosen the bonds that hold debris in your skin, BHAs actively penetrate the pores to remove whatever junk is there. In short, BHAs are often recommended for oily and acne-prone skin as they are oil-soluble, while AHAs are water-soluble and recommended for those with dry and sensitive skin. When it comes to applying either, they always come after cleansing and toning but before serums and moisturisers. 

Capital Buy
Pharmagel Beta-C Dual Action Moisturiser. Perfect for normal/oily skin this is a luxe cream formulated with Salicylic Acid (BHA) and Vitamin C to erase and repair sun damage and signs of ageing. 

For a full range of skincare: