All About Skincare Acids

July 21, 2023

Why exfoliate?

Skin exfoliates naturally by shedding its outer layer. Sometimes it needs a helping hand; factors such as the natural ageing process, or a compromised skin barrier can leave skin uneven and bumpy, or skin that is prone to breakouts or dryness. Adding acids into your routine helps speed up the skin cell renewal process to leave fresher skin cells underneath. This leaves a great base for other products to work effectively.

Skin is left smooth and glowing. 

 What are acids?

The world of acids can be confusing. Here's a quick guide to what they are and what they do.

Acids are chemical exfoliants, rather than the physical grainy exfoliants found in traditional facial scrubs. When used at the correct levels, acids give a more gentle and even exfoliation without dragging and stressing the skin.

By removing the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, acids can gently unclog pores so skin will feel smoother, look brighter and your skin tone will look more even. 


How often can I use acids?

Great skin takes time and needs gentle care. Heavy use of acids can strip the skin and cause dryness or sensitivities. We always recommend patch testing before using a product for the first time, especially if your skin can be sensitive. 

Gently does it…

The acids found in VOTARY products are at the optimum levels for daily use without causing your skin to become sensitive. They are supported with effective plant oils and botanical actives to help achieve healthy skin. Decide what your skin actually needs and gradually introduce that product into your routine over a few weeks. The exception to this is Radiance Reveal Mask which is stronger and should be used less frequently.

 Types of acids we use at VOTARY

Glycolic, Lactic, Malic and Mandelic Acids are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), a group of natural and synthetic ingredients which work to evenly exfoliate skin resulting in fresher, smoother skin. In our plant oil bases, they work brilliantly to gently reveal brighter, glowing skin.

Glycolic acid

Effectively penetrates the skin’s surface to dissolve dead skin and reveal the fresher skin which lies beneath. It has proven results in tackling signs of sun damage like hyper-pigmentation. Think of it as your brightening, glowing friend. 

 Find it in: Brightening Hyaluronic Serum

 Lactic acid

One of the best exfoliators for sensitive skin. It works gently to stimulate cell turnover and improve skin texture. It also works well on dehydrated skin.

Find it in: Radiance Reveal Mask and Daily Apple Toner

Malic acid

A great exfoliator for gently resurfacing the skin to promote smooth, fresh skin.

Find it in: Daily Apple Toner and Brightening Hyaluronic Serum

Mandelic acid

A fat soluble AHA. It’s a great option for oily skin and is antibacterial. With its larger molecular structure, mandelic acid doesn't penetrate the pores so deeply making it a good option for sensitive skin types.

Find it in: Radiance Reveal Mask

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). It is a clever, natural exfoliant derived from the wintergreen plant. Salicylic acid penetrates the outer layers of the skin (the epidermis) and breaks down the excess sebum which has caused the skin cells to clump together. These layers of the skin are sloughed off and shed. They literally flake away. Blocked pores gently unclog and skin is calmed and soothed. Salicylic acid helps reduce scarring and redness once the blemishes have disappeared. It encourages new, fresh skin to emerge. Perfect for breakout prone skin. 

Find it in: Super Glow Mask, Blemish Rescue Oil


VOTARY products to help reveal soft, glowing skin

Radiance Reveal Mask is formulated with a powerhouse duo of mandelic and lactic acids. A highly active resurfacing mask to exfoliate evenly to help reveal your very best skin. Because acid exfoliation can sensitise skin, we have included a proven calming complex of natural plant extracts. This mask helps improve texture, even out pigmentation, reduce fine lines, decongest pores and prevent breakouts. It’s a multi-tasking, must-have hero! 

(Percentage used in VOTARY formulation: 2% mandelic acid, 5% lactic acid.)

How to use: Smooth over a clean face, avoiding the eye and lip area. Leave on for 5 - 15 minutes then remove with a VOTARY Face Cloth and warm water. (Some tingling may occur and this is normal.) Ideal as a weekly mask, but can be used more frequently. Discontinue if irritation occurs. 

Brightening Hyaluronic Serum unifies skin tone and restores radiance to dull skin. Hyperpigmentation is rebalanced, and skin looks more even and luminous. Glycolic acid (we use both lab-sourced and naturally sourced from sugar cane) gently exfoliates to reveal a fresh dewy complexion. It is supported by hyaluronic acid to deliver intense hydration. Potent plant extracts play their part too – bilberry fruit extract provides antioxidant protection for the skin, helping to support the skin’s barrier function and calm any areas of sensitivity. Brightening Hyaluronic Serum also contains lactic acid (from bilberry), citric acid (from orange and lemon), and malic and tartaric acids from sugar maple.

How to use: Smooth a few drops over your face after cleansing and before your moisturiser. When introducing any acid into your routine do it gradually to avoid overloading your skin. Suitable for daily use.

Blemish Rescue Oil is a targeted treatment to be applied directly to spots and can be used multiple times daily. The Salicylic Acid in it works to unblock pores and to remove compacted skin. Additionally, tamanu oil is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial and helps keep everything super clean and accelerates healing. Blemishes heal with minimal marking or scarring and fresh, soft, smooth skin appears more speedily.

(Percentage used in VOTARY formulation: 2%)

How to use: After cleansing, apply one drop to blemish and gently rub in. Leave to work its magic for a few minutes and then follow with your usual routine. Can be used twice a day.

Super Glow Mask is fantastic on skin which is a little congested or ashy, and is perfectly balanced to deliver luminosity. It also includes lightweight watermelon and passion fruit oils to cleanse and give dewy radiance, and avocado and peach oils.

(Percentage used in VOTARY formulation: 2%)

How to use: After cleansing, smooth a layer of Super Glow Mask to your face and neck. Relax for 5 - 10 minutes and remove with a VOTARY Face Cloth and warm water. Follow with your usual routine. Can be used weekly, or more if your skin enjoys it!

And then there's Hyaluronic Acid, which is a bit different

Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient found naturally throughout the body. It’s a natural humectant, which means it’s able to attract moisture and retain it. It helps keep your skin hydrated and plump and doesn’t exfoliate like the acids mentioned above. Hyaluronic Acid can help to maintain a healthy skin barrier as it creates a protective layer over the skin that also reduces moisture loss. Because of its ability to hold so much moisture it gives skin a lovely plumping effect.

Hyaluronic acid is perfect for daily use and can be found in these VOTARY heroes!

Night Star SerumBrightening Hyaluronic Serum, Super Seed Serum, Hyaluronic Self-Tan Drops

Intense Overnight Mask, Super Seed Nutrient Cream, Nutrient Cream Light, Natural Glow Day Cream

Good to know

If you are using acids in your skincare, we also recommend using an SPF daily.  It’s crucial whatever skincare ingredients you use, but it’s particularly important if you are using any kind of exfoliating formulas. Fresh, new skin needs to be protected from potential UVA and UVB damage.