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How to Layer Acids in Your Skincare Routine

By Dana Manuel Share
How to Layer Acids in Your Skincare Routine
How to Layer Acids in Your Skincare Routine

Acids and chemical exfoliants can easily intimidate anyone who’s new to skincare. While putting acid on your face might seem dangerous, incorporating them into your regimen is actually one of the best things you can do for your skin, especially if you want to achieve a radiant and flawless complexion.

That being said, always practice due diligence when introducing anything new in your skincare. Wrong application can cause your products to be ineffective, or worse, leave you with irritated skin.

Here’s what you need to know about acids and how to layer them in your routine.

What are acids?

There is a variety of acids in skincare and each has its own set of benefits that cater to different skin needs. Here are some of the most common acids you might encounter.

AHAs and BHAs

AHAs, like glycolic acid and lactic acid, are great for exfoliating surface layer of dead skin cells, meaning it can help smoothen skin texture and even out the skin tone. BHAs, like salicylic acid, is best for fighting acne; decongesting and preventing clogged pores.

We Recommend:

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid PHP 990

COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid keeps acne at bay and deep cleanses pores for brighter and smoother skin.

The Ordinary. Lactic Acid 10% + HA will help rid skin of sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells. It has added hyaluronic acid to ensure skin is hydrated.

COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad are toner pads soaked in BHA and willow bark water to exfoliate dead skin cells without dehydrating the skin.


The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane PHP 638

Retinol is a powerful anti-ager that is clinically proven to build collagen, diminish fine lines, improve texture, and treat acne. Not to be confused with retinoid, which requires a prescription and is more potent (but can be more irritating and drying) than retinol.

We Recommend: 

The Ordinary. Retinol 0.5% in Squalane reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and improve skin tone and texture. Containing 0.5% retinol, this treatment can be used by sensitive skin types.

L-ascorbic acid

iUNIK Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum PHP 1,099

Also known as vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid is an antioxidant known for its brightening and glow-boosting properties. It brightens dark spots and protects skin from free radical damage.

We Recommend: 

iUNIK Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum contains 70% propolis and 12% vitamin C. It’s a brightening serum that also soothes irritated skin.

How to Layer Your Acids

AHAs and BHAs work incredibly well together in exfoliating and treating acne, sun damage, and clogged pores. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to use AHAs and BHAs alternately in your routine. If you don’t have particularly sensitive skin and want to maximize both acids, apply BHA first before AHA. If it’s your first time to use AHAs and BHAs, limit usage to once a week, then slowly build up to twice a week until your skin gets used to them.

When using vitamin C in the same routine, apply it after BHA and AHA, but wait for about thirty minutes to allow the acids to do their magic. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to use acids and vitamin C at different times. For example: use vitamin C in the morning and follow up with moisturizer and sunscreen, then use acids at nighttime.

Using retinol with AHAs and BHAs might cause skin irritation because these acids typically come in high concentrations, so your safest option is to use them alternately in your routine. Retinol can be drying on dry and sensitive skin types, so make sure to hydrate your skin by following up with a moisturizing cream.

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