Your ultimate guide to using facial acids for all skin types and concerns

Unleash your inner glow with these revolutionary skincare products.

Harper's Bazaar India

Skincare has come a long way from a time when scrubbing our skin raw with gritty walnut scrubs was considered cool. We now have a whole gamut of facial acids in a plethora of combinations and forms available at our disposal to help us achieve that radiating skin. 

Facial acids, at the very core, are exfoliants. They aid in speeding up the cell turnover process by removing the layer of dead cells that make our skin look dull over time. Different facial acids offer different levels of penetration into our skin—acids with smaller molecules go in far deeper while those with larger molecules work on the surface level—and serve a different purpose.

For instance, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) work hard to help you achieve glowy skin, beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) work wonders on acne-prone skin, newer poly-hydroxy acids are great for gentle exfoliation, ascorbic acid gives some good old vitamin C radiance, hyaluronic acid provide hydration, and retinoids give a boost of vitamin A to matured skin. 

While facial acids can be truly revolutionary for our skincare routines, we need to remember that every skin is different and what works for a person may not yield results for the other. Thus, it is important that we invest in facial acids that best suit our skin type and address our concerns. 

Here's our list of some of the best facial acids you can rely on to solve all of your-skin related woes. 


Salicylic Acid: Derived from willow bark and wintergreen leaves as well as produced synthetically, this wildly popular exfoliant helps remove dead skin cells, regulates sebum production, and unclogs pores. It's the ideal pick for those with oily, acne-prone skin. A BHA by nature, salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, heals hyperpigmentation and acne scarring, and reduces blackheads.

Glycolic Acid: This star facial acid helps slough off dead skin cells on your skin and is effective in treating fine lines, wrinkles, and breakouts. This one from the AHA family protects your skin from ultraviolet B radiation and reduces pores. It also targets hyperpigmentation and dark spots. 


Mandelic Acid: Like salicylic acid, this acid exfoliates dead skin cells and treats hyperpigmentation, but is significantly more gentle on your skin due to its larger molecule size. Mandelic acid also helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles and controls acne, making it a great option for people with dry and sensitive skin. Derived from bitter almonds, mandelic acid also nourishes the skin, promotes collagen production, evens out skin texture, and reduces the potential side effects of using acid acids for dry skin. ,

Hyaluronic Acid: Naturally present in our bodies and consistently decreasing as we age, this acid is vital in maintaining adequate hydration in our skin. This naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan and its derivative, sodium hyaluronate, works wonders in maintaining the skin barrier, moisturising, healing spots and scars, increasing skin elasticity and repairing tissue. It also has anti-ageing properties and prevents fine lines and wrinkles. It is not only a game-changing acid for dry and sensitive skin, but also for other skin types.


Most of us fall under this category and every person has different types of combinations between oily, dry, dehydrated, and sensitive zones of facial skin. Thus, unlike other skin types, combination skin type does not have a specific solution and it is best to take professional advice on the best way to mix different facial acids to target different zones of our face. For example, you could combine hyaluronic acid with glycolic acid or lactic acid for personalised results of exfoliation, hydration, skin barrier protection, and increased cellular turnover. 

Acids for specific skin concerns

There is a never-ending list of age-old and newly discovered facial acids that can respond to specific skin concerns and incorporating them into our routine can bring incredibly satisfying, let’s be honest, truly magical results. There are many other popular acids that target specific concerns like azelaic acid which works wonders for hyperpigmentation and persistent acne and Ellagic acid and Ferulic acid which lower oxidative stress for the skin. You can blindly trust Kojic acid to aid with reducing dark spots and discolouration and lactic acid can offer gentle exfoliation coupled with milky hydration.  

When it comes to benefitting from the magic of facial acids it is best to go low and slow. While we completely resonate with the excitement of including a new product in our skincare routine, it's important to err on the side of caution. Remember, incorporate facial acids into your routine with the mentality of a marathon, not a race.