In this article:
- Learn the difference between AHAs and BHAs as well as what other skincare products you need to use with your skincare acids.
- Get an overview of the Cerave SA Cream as well as The Ordinary Salicylic Acid and Azelaic Acid.
- Discover all there is to know about each product’s texture, bang for the buck, and ingredients to find out whether it fits in your budget and your skincare routine.
Look, we hear you. Skincare can get really confusing. From glass skin to mirror skin to whatever skin trends, there seems to be no end to the list of glossy, shiny objects your face should look like.
As if that isn’t frustrating enough on its own, you have to put together a complex skincare routine just to achieve your goal skin. Even with a simple skincare routine, you’re already looking at around 4-5 steps.
But if you want those 4-5 steps to count, what you really need to put on your face is an acid that can smooth out your skin texture and even out your skin tone to give you that baby’s bum fresh look that every Korean skincare model seems to just wake up with.
Wait, Why Would I Put Acid on My Face?
The word acid might sound scary, but you really shouldn’t worry about putting them on your face. Unless, of course, it’s hydrochloric acid. But paranoia aside, acids are actives that are used for exfoliating skin gently. As acid melts away dead skin, it reveals new skin that’s softer, smoother, and more evenly colored compared to your old, dead skin.
Think of yourself as a snake that needs some help shedding its old skin.
Acids typically fall under the category of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA). The first one exfoliates the outermost layers of the skin, making it great for bringing out a more vibrant glow and removing premature fine lines. The second one is good for coaxing sebum out of the pores, a procedure that prevents acne.
Regular acid exfoliation followed up with a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and consistent use of sunscreen will help revitalize your skin. Emphasis on the with because improper use of skincare acids can lead to irritation, scarring, dryness, and a damaged moisture barrier.
Remember: Your skincare routine matters.
And take it from us, a damaged moisture barrier is the last thing you want your skin to have since that will make your skin more sensitive to damage and make you more breakout prone.
Here, we’ll be looking at three of the most recommended skincare acids on Reddit from the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction, the internet’s premier amateur dermatologist. Those acids are:
- Cerave SA Cream
- The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid
- The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Cream
Both the Cerave cream and the T.O serum are salicylic acids. These acids are classified as BHAs which is why you’ll often find them in acne medications. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the acid can calm redness and irritation on the skin caused by acne.
As for the T.O Azelaic Acid cream, it’s neither an AHA nor BHA but is a dicarboxylic acid that functions as an exfoliant (like AHA) while having the deep cleansing features of a BHA.
Cerave SA Cream 101: Purpose and Reddit Reviews
Cerave’s SA Cream is a salicylic acid cream designed for smoothing out bumpy and rough skin. It’s a little thicker than most salicylic acid products, which are typically formulated as toners or serums, because of the added lotion.
- What’s in the Cerave SA Cream? Salicylic Acid (2%), Cetearyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Hydrolyzed Hylauronic Acid, etc.
- What’s not in the Cerave SA Cream? Comedogenic ingredients, perfumes, allergenic ingredients. (Psst, that means perfect for sensitive skin.)
- How’s the bang for the buck? Really, really good. Cerave SA Cream comes in a 340g jar. It doesn’t get better at its price point. Since you’re using just a bit of it each day, one jar can last for months.
- How’s the texture? Also great! The Cerave SA Cream is formulated to be non-greasy so you don’t feel like you have an oil spill on your face.
Salicylic acid is known for its drying properties making the ceramides added to the formula a must-have. If you’ve never heard of them before, ceramides are fatty acids found on the outer layers of the skin’s cells because they hold your skin cells together, giving them that bouncy, soft feel you get when you press against your skin.
What Does Reddit Have to Say About the Cerave SA Cream?
“No single product has helped my skin as much as Cerave’s SA cream. I’ve used Cerave for over a year now, SPF moisturizer, “Cerave in the tub”, Night creams etc. I finally decided to try this out because after a year or so of using the SPF 30 and Cerave in the tub, my skin felt way better in terms of overall health, dryness etc., but I still had rough bumpy skin and acne. 2-3 days after using this in place of the slightly thinner (still thick) Cerave in the tub and my acne is gone aside from a little PIH and my skin looks and feels great.”
Get the Cerave SA Cream here.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 101: Purpose and Reddit Reviews
The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid Serum is a watery salicylic acid serum designed for clarifying skin. This is a great addition to your skincare routine if you don’t have an acid serum already. Because of its consistency, we recommend using it after you cleanse your face and before you add other products to ensure you get the maximum absorption of your serum.
- What’s in The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid Serum? Salicylic acid, Water, Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Water, etc.
- What’s not in The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid Serum? Fragrances, silicone, dimethicone.
- How’s the bang for the buck? Very good for a serum. At its price point, you get a 30ml serum. You can also opt for the 1 oz. bottle for a lower cost per ml.
- How’s the texture? Slimy, kind of like snail serum, but the stickiness disappears quickly since the serum evaporates and is absorbed into the skin. Note: There will be a lather-like foam as you rub it in but do not be alarmed.
T.O’s Salicylic Acid Serum works as an all-around active for smoothing your skin and evening out your skin tone. You might want to slowly introduce this into your routine since serums are a lot more concentrated than other formulations. You don’t want to risk a bad reaction.
What Does Reddit Have to Say About The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid Serum?
“I’ve been using it on my entire acne-affected area (chin and nose) 3 times a week so far. It hasn’t been long but so far results are good. Breakouts calmed down quickly and my skin seems happy with it. Fingers crossed we’ve got something that will help with acne, pores, and texture. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic which is oil soluble, which means that it can absorb into the sebum-filled pores and dissolve dead skin as well as removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, exactly what we want if you get spots and texture. ”
Get The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid Serum here.
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 101: Purpose and Reddit Reviews
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension is an acid suspension. This means that the product is formulated to help mix together ingredients that normally wouldn’t come together. In this case, the formula involves Azelaic Acid, an ingredient known for being effective in alleviating blackheads. It works well with Niacinamide.
- What’s in The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension? Water, Azelaic Acid 10%, Dimethicone, etc.
- What’s not in The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension? Fragrances.
- How’s the bang for the buck? Quite good. Each tube contains 30ml of Azelaic Acid suspension which can last anywhere from 3 to 4 months.
- How’s the texture? The texture can feel a bit thick and unspreadable, but it eventually absorbs into the skin as long as you keep rubbing it in.
T.O’s Azelaic Acid Suspension is a little different from other products in that its consistency makes it too thick for use before your serums but its purpose doesn’t make it a good last step given that moisturizers and occlusives typically go there.
What Does Reddit Have to Say About The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension?
“As someone with rosacea, I was really excited for this product to be released. Azelaic acid is supposed to work wonders (for some people) when treating redness. I’ve been on Metrogel and found that it didn’t really do anything amazing for me.
I think this product has definitely met my expectations! If you suffer from redness, you know how hard it is to find something that works (not to mention the money that goes into it). This product is priced really well, and I’m already sold after one day.”
Get The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension here.