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January 02, 2024
Many of those with sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea often feel apprehensive when they hear the word "acid" in skincare ingredients. They tend to believe that all "acid" substances are irritating and should be avoided. The truth is, not all ingredients with the word "acid" are harsh for the skin. In fact, some of them are star ingredients used by dermatologists to treat and improve sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea!
Today, let's delve into two of these ingredients——Lactic Acid and Azelaic Acid.
Lactic acid, derived from milk, is a gentle and hydrating type of alpha-hydroxy acid that naturally occurs in our bodies, and is one of the main substances in the skin's natural moisturizing factor (NMF). Unlike common beliefs, not only does lactic acid gently exfoliate, it also possesses powerful properties in improving sensitivity, eczema, and rosacea issues!
In skincare products, lactic acid gently exfoliates the skin. Since it is larger in molecule size, it only works on the surface of the skin and does not cause irritation.
Do sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea-prone skin need exfoliation though? The answer is YES!
As we age, the speed and efficiency of the cell renewal process significantly decrease. In our 20s, it takes approximately 14-21 days for cell turnover, gradually increasing to 28-45 days in our 30s, 45-60 days in our 40s, and even 90 days or more in our 50s and 60s. When aging dead skin cells accumulate on the skin's surface and become progressively harder and uneven, the skin becomes dry, rough, and dull. This thick layer of dead skin cells can also trap excess sebum, dirt, and even bacteria and inflammation, exacerbating issues like sensitivity, eczema, and rosacea. Additionally, the accumulated dead skin cells send signals to the skin, causing the mother cells deep within the epidermis to stop dividing and generating new cells. This ultimately slows down the natural regeneration and renewal process of the skin as a whole, weakening its overall function and making it even more challenging to improve conditions like sensitivity, eczema, and rosacea！
But isn't scrubs better for sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea than acid? Definite no!
Firstly, the back-and-forth friction during physical exfoliation has a high chance of irritating already inflamed skin. Secondly, it may remove healthy skin and cause micro-tears that are not visible to the naked eye, whilte damaging the skin barrier and significantly reducing the skin's ability to retain moisture and protect against bacteria and allergens. Therefore, scrubs are in fact absolutely not suitable for sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea.
In other words, when it comes to exfoliation for sensitive, eczema, and rosacea-prone skin, lactic acid is actually the top choice!
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To improve fine lines and wrinkles, it is necessary to approach it from multiple angles. Lactic acid can help diminish these frustrating lines through four different channels:
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Research has shown that lactic acid not only has the power to brighten skin and fade hyperpigmentation, but also significantly improves melasma (also known as hormonal spots or liver spots, thanks to its effectiveness in approaching pigmentation from four aspects:
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Lactic acid is a type of humectant. This means that its unique structure and properties not only prevent the skin from drying out, but also help bring a significant amount of water into the skin, and hydrate skin cells！
In addition, factors such as aging, excessive cleansing, and the use of foaming cleansers can make the skin increasingly alkaline; when the skin becomes alkaline, the barrier becomes compromised, leading to dryness, sensitivity, and even exacerbating inflammatory conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. Lactic acid helps regulate the skin's pH value, thereby improving the skin's ability in retaining hydration and reducing water loss.
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Research has shown that lactic acid exhibits antibacterial properties and reduces inflammatory responses. This not only helps alleviate sensitivity and redness issues, but also improves conditions like eczema, rosacea, acne, and even psoriasis, which are all essentially inflammatory skin conditions.
Ceramides are one of the most important moisturizing components of the skin. When there is a deficiency of ceramides in the skin, the skin barrier function is easily compromised, leading to inflammation, acne, dryness, and water loss.
Research has confirmed that lactic acid effectively increases the levels of ceramides in the skin's stratum corneum, thereby improving the skin barrier function and reducing water loss. When the barrier is healthy, the skin is also better able to resist allergens and bacterial invasion. This means that using lactic acid can make the skin more hydrated, plump, and firm, reduce dry lines and fine lines, while helping to improve even sensitivity and inflammation issues.
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Azelaic Acid is a skincare ingredient that naturally occurs in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Not only does it possess many remarkable skincare benefits, it also has a pH value that falls within the slightly acidic range of 4.5 to 5.5, which perfectly matches the pH of healthy skin. For this reason, it is commonly used by dermatologists as an effective ingredient for treating sensitivity, eczema, rosacea, and acne.
In essence, sensitivity, eczema, rosacea, and even acne, are all the result of skin inflammation. Azelaic Acid can effectively reduce inflammation issues via three angles:
Apart from inflammation, the redness that comes with sensitive, eczema and rosacea-prone skin is often a result of an overactive defense mechanism in the skin. Some receptors in the skin inherently function as danger sensors that detect environmental threats, and while they generally aid in resisting bacterial or allergenic attacks, when in overdrive, they can lead to sensitivity and rosacea flare ups. Niacinamide helps balance and bring these receptors back under control, fundamentally improving issues related to sensitivity, redness, rosacea, and eczema.
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As one of the main ingredients used by dermatologists to treat rosacea and acne, niacinamide has powerful anti-microbial, antibacterial and anti-acne properties:
Niacinamide is not only good for fighting inflammations, bacteria, allergens and acne. In fact, it is also highly effective in fading pigmentation and brightening skin!
Niacinamide can improve the disorderly growth of skin cells within the hair follicles by inhibiting the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes. This not only helps maintain clear pores but also reduces blackheads and whiteheads, and as a result, the pores will appear smaller and tighter!
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