Sugar and Acid in Skincare

Sugar and acid? It isn’t all bad for you if you aren’t eating it. Skin experts have long known the benefits of these ingredients in skincare so let’s dispel some of the lingo associated with skincare to help us understand what sugar or acid works best for each skin type. AHA- Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of natural acids found in foods. Alpha hydroxy acids include citric acid (found in citrus fruits), glycolic acid (found in sugar cane), lactic acid (found in sour milk), malic acid (found in apples) and tartaric acid (found in grapes). Various alpha hydroxy acids are applied to the skin (used topically) for moisturising and removing dead skin cells, for treating acne and improving the appearance of acne scars, for refining the appearance of photo-aged skin, and firming and smoothing skin. So how does it work? Alpha hydroxy acids work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. They can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness. Personally, I prefer this type of exfoliation as opposed to the grainy or scrubby type which for me always ends up with broken veins or touches of redness. PHAS- Polyhydroxy acids are ingredients such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. They’re supposed to be as effective as AHAs, but cause less sensitivity. Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are chemically and functionally like AHAs. The significant difference between them and AHAs is that gluconolactone and lactobionic acid have larger molecular structures, which limits their ability to penetrate the skin, resulting in less potential for sensitising side-effects, this reduced absorption however is not thought to hamper their effectiveness.

Every sensitive skin type can tolerate PHAs even atopic and those prone to rosacea. Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally in our own skin, as we age it depletes and our skin loses the ability to preserve moisture, resulting in the visible loss of firmness and plumpness. Hyaluronic acid provides the ability to replenish moisture that is crucial to having younger-looking, supple skin. As well as being present in dermal fillers many cosmetic and cosmeceutical companies have included it in their products. I am a huge fan. So now that the science bit is over we can look to products that contain these magic ingredients.


Exfoliating Enzyme Nimue- €53 This gentle detaches the dead skin by breaking down the skin on the top most layer. It refines the skin texture and leaves the skin ready for optimum product penetration. Available in Coco Ballincollig.  Alpha-H Liquid Gold, €36 – Contains Glycolic and is dubbed the “overnight facial” this is perfect for lazy girls as you just apply it to your skin after you cleanse and it does all the demanding work while you sleep. It is suitable for pigmented, ageing or acne prone skin and contains 5% Glycolic. For the best in PHA look to Neo Strata for their Bionic cream, €49 which contains 12% PHA and can be used daily. It is perfect for irritated skin post microdermabrasion and is also available in an eye cream €48, available in Minihans. Pestle and Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum €43 is an Irish brand that is multi award winning. The Pure Hyaluronic serum has a low molecular weight. This means that the hyaluronic acid is easily absorbed because of its small molecule size and can penetrate deeper into the skin, faster, promoting collagen creation, and aid in tissue repair, as well as help the deeper layers of the skin to retain moisture. Available in Sam McCauley.

HA Intensifier €90, by Skinceuticals utilises a high concentration of key ingredients.  These ingredients work together to provide surface hydration, encourage the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid and prevent the degradation process. So not only are you replenishing but you are also inhibiting loss. These skincare hero ingredients are not only suitable for use on the face but also on the body.


Many body creams and lotions contain fruit acids and target these types of concerns on areas like knees elbows and keratosis pilaris (the bumps you get on the back of your arms). From the collarbones down normal exfoliation with a scrubs is also great but keeping your skin soft and supple means also putting back lost moisture.

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