If you’re looking for the perfect exfoliant, look no further than your kitchen table. Malic acid, found in crisp apples and tart glasses of wine, is a wonderful mild exfoliant. Although the word acid may present as something a tad too aggressive, experts insist that malic acid is perfect for sensitive skin.
What is malic acid?
Malic acid is part of the beloved alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. According to Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD, your body produces malic acid naturally, but adding a few extra drops to your skincare regimen can result in a variety of benefits. Dr. Schlessinger added that malic acid is generally derived from unripe fruit, most often apples. Not only is malic acid an exfoliator, but it also boasts humectant benefits and helps balance both the skin’s pH and the pH of skincare products.
What’s the history of malic acid?
If malic acid is any indication, an apple a day may keep skin imperfections away. Dr. Schlessinger said malic acid was originally extracted from apple juice in 1785. That sour sensation you feel in the back of your mouth when you bite into a tart apple is all to do with high concentrations of malic acid.
What is malic acid good for?
Malic acid can wear many hats, it appears in various products, but it’s best known for acting as one of the more mild exfoliants. New York, NY dermatologist Julie Russak, MD explained that it’s a gentle AHA because its molecule size is larger than most, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin quite as deep. Thanks to the slow absorption rate, a product with malic acid in it creates a gentler treatment, which is great for people with sensitive skin, noted Dr. Russak.
This AHA exfoliates dead skin cells at the outermost layer of the skin, said Dr. Schlesinger, which helps brighten the skin, minimize the appearance of any discoloration, and keep pores clear.
How does malic acid work?
According to Dr. Russak, malic acid “exfoliates the skin by breaking down desmosomal bonds between epidermal skin cells and therefore speeding up cellular turnover.” This process helps improve skin texture, fine lines, and wrinkles while brightening the skin. Los Angeles, CA, aesthetician Nerida Joy explained that malic acid eats away at dead cells without any harsh physical effects that sometimes come with other exfoliants. The ingredient also has a buffing effect on the skin, so Nerida fondly refers to it as a “surface regenerator.”
How to use malic acid
According to Dr. Schlessinger, if you’re just using malic acid, you can use it twice a day since it’s a more gentle exfoliant. He suggests that if your skin can tolerate it, you should combine malic acid with additional stronger AHAs for better results. Dr.Schlessinger added that it’s essential to follow up the use of malic acid with sunscreen because it can make your skin more susceptible to damage.
What are some great malic acid products?
Dr. Russak said malic acid is an ingredient you’d like to see in skincare for rosacea, acne, and melasma-prone skin due to its gentle nature and balanced pH. If you’re eager to start seeing the benefits of malic acid, Dr. Schlessinger has a few favorites. To improve discoloration or dull skin without the help of harsher ingredients, he recommends Epionce MelanoLyte Tx Brightening Lotion.
To exfoliate and unclog pores, Dr. Schlessinger recommends SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask. For dry, mature skin in some desperate need of exfoliation, he suggests adding Eminence Organics Naseberry Treatment Cream to your routine. According to Dr. Schlessinger, Glo Skin Beauty HydraBright Pro 5 Liquid Exfoliant provides professional-looking exfoliating peel results but is gentle enough for all skin types.
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