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Do all “acid” ingredients have the same function in our cosmetics?

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Do you know why acids are used in cosmetic formulations?

Let’s find out!

Have you ever wondered what is the function of the acids inside your dermatological products or cosmetics? Do you think all of them are there to “melt” your face like we see acids been used for in the movies and TV shows?

Let me tell you that they have diverse functions and most of them can be very mild substances.

First, we must understand that most of the cosmetic and dermatological acid active ingredients are organic acids. This type of acid has a carboxylic acid group in the molecule (COOH), and they usually are not as acidic, or “strong”, as inorganic acids like sulfuric acid (H2SO4) or hydrochloric acid (HCl). Although many of the acids used in cosmetics are there for the exfoliating effect, they can be used for completely different reasons, like hydration and brightening effect.

Check this table with the most common acid like active ingredients present in cosmetics and dermatological products, and their INCI “name” so you can find them on your product’s ingredient list.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid = AHA // Beta Hydroxy Acid = BHA // Poly Hydroxy Acid= PHA

Did you find all the "acids" you use on your skincare routine?

I hope this short article was useful for you and that from now on you will be able to identify all the "acids" in your products!

If you didn't find an acid substance that you use on the list, have any question or want discuss more, do not hesitate to contact me!

And don’t forget to always apply sunscreen when exposing yourself to sunlight!!

Artur Stramari de Vargas

EMOTION Master student 2021/2023

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