6 Acids To Look For in Your Skin Care Products

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Woman browsing through skincare products

Many people equate the term “acid” with harsh chemicals that damage the skin, but this is definitely not true!

There are so many acids out there that not only come from natural sources, but also bring the skin numerous benefits.

From the hydrating properties of hyaluronic acid to the exfoliating properties of alpha hydroxy acids, here are six acids to look for when seeking out new skin care products.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is found throughout the human body, with your skin cells actually producing it themselves in order to stay hydrated. 

This acid is a powerful humectant, which means that it is able to draw in moisture from the air and hold on to it, basically acting like a magnet for moisture. In fact, hyaluronic acid is capable of holding up to 1000 times its weight in water. It is also able to adjust this depending on humidity, which can change with the seasons. 

This unique property makes hyaluronic acid a fantastic ingredient for hydrating the skin. Research shows that applying hyaluronic acid to the skin is directly linked to an increase in skin moisture and smoothness, as well as a decrease in the visibility of wrinkles.

In addition to this, hyaluronic acid also has antioxidant properties, meaning that it can help to protect the body from free radical damage, which is caused by everything from pollution to sun exposure.

You are probably thinking…

If the body already produces hyaluronic acid, why does it need to be applied topically?

Well, while your body produces plenty of hyaluronic acid during your younger years, this changes as you age…

The older you get, the less hyaluronic acid your body will produce, which is partly why mature skin is so prone to dryness and wrinkles. Not only that, but the rate at which the hyaluronic acid already in your body degrades speeds up as you grow older

Illustration of different layers of skin

Fortunately, applying hyaluronic acid topically is an easy way to get around this.

Wondering if hyaluronic acid is safe to be used by all skin types?

Yes. Since your body already has plenty of hyaluronic acid within it, this gentle ingredient is easily accepted by the skin, and will not cause any irritations.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids, also referred to as AHAs, are water-soluble acids most commonly used for their exfoliating properties

When applied to the skin, AHAs dissolve away the outermost layer of dead skin cells, leaving your newer and fresher skin cells to shine through. When used over time, AHAs can really help to keep the skin better hydrated, while increasing smoothness and firmness.

AHAs have a few other benefits too, most notably when it comes to increasing collagen production, evening out the skin tone and thickening the epidermis.

Never seen the term alpha hydroxy acid on your skin care labels before?

This is because there are actually quite a few AHAs out there, and these will be listed with their individual names on ingredient lists.

Here are some of the most popular AHAs:

  • Glycolic Acid – one of the most popular, as well as the most researched, of AHAs, glycolic acid, which comes from sugar cane, not only exfoliates and hydrates the skin, but also “teaches” the skin how to better hydrate itself. In addition to this, research shows that glycolic acid, when used at a concentration of 5%, can improve the skin’s firmness and elasticity, while reducing signs of sun damage
  • Lactic Acid – derived from milk, lactic acid works in a similar way to glycolic acid. However, its molecules are larger, meaning that it does not penetrate into the skin to such an extent, making it ideal for those who have sensitive skin
  • Citric Acid – comes from citrus fruits and boasts antioxidant as well as exfoliating properties. However, due to its low pH level, citric acid can often end up irritating the skin
  • Malic Acid – derived from apples, malic acid is best used with other AHAs in order for it to be effective, since it has quite large molecules and cannot properly penetrate into the skin
  • Tartaric Acid – many plants produce tartaric acid, including bananas and grapes, with this AHA featuring quite a large molecule size, meaning that it is best combined with other AHAs. However, the pH level of tartaric acid is great for the skin, and it can help the skin to better receive the benefits of other AHAs 

While each of those AHAs can be derived from natural sources, the majority of skin care products will contain synthetic versions of these acids.

Why not just use them in a natural form?

Because the synthetic versions are much easier to stabilize and formulate into long-lasting products. You are also guaranteed more consistent results with a synthetic ingredient over a natural ingredient.

Beta Hydroxy Acids

While beta hydroxy acids, also known as BHAs, also exfoliate the skin, they differ from AHAs in a few different ways…

Unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil-soluble, meaning that they are able to penetrate through the skin’s oil glands and exfoliate them too.

For that reason, BHAs are best suited to those with oily skin, as a BHA will be able to clear out and unclog the pores, clearing away excess oils.

In addition to this, BHAs also have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties, which is why they are such an effective treatment when dealing with acne

The most popular and commonly used BHA out there is salicylic acid. This acid comes from the bark of the willow tree, and is extremely effective at clearing out the pores. Not only that, but salicylic acid also helps to maintain the skin’s pH level, boost collagen production, and increase the rate at which the skin absorbs other ingredients.

The downside?

It can be quite drying on the skin, making it important to moisturize after use.

If you would like to enjoy the benefits of salicylic acid, but would like the ingredient in a more natural form, give willow bark extract a try.

As mentioned above, salicylic acid comes from willow bark. While the extract may not be as potent as salicylic acid itself, it still has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Vine Vera 6 Acids To Look For in Your Skin Care Products willow bark

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Also referred to as ALA, alpha lipoic acid is an enzyme that is naturally found in every cell in the body, helping each cell with energy production.

When it comes to skin care, ALA acts as an antioxidant, but brings with it some unique benefits:

  • Repairs damaged cells – it first tackles the free radicals in the cell membrane, before moving in to neutralize the free radicals within, while also preventing pro-inflammatory chemicals from activating
  • Antioxidant regeneration – ALA helps the body to produce more antioxidants itself
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – reduces redness, calming the skin and evening out the skin tone
  • Regulates the production of nitric oxide – this then boosts blood flow to the skin, which not only gives the skin a natural, vibrant glow, but also helps to reduce the appearance of dark circles

ALA is an extremely potent ingredient, and can be quite sensitive to sunlight. For this reason, keep your ALA usage to night times rather than during the day, and make sure that the product containing it features dark and opaque packaging to reduce the product’s light exposure.

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid refers to vitamin C, which does so much when it comes to the skin.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and in addition to being able to neutralize free radicals, just like all other antioxidants, vitamin C has some other fantastic skin-boosting benefits as well.

Vitamin C plays a significant role when it comes to the production of collagen and elastin. These are both structural proteins that give your skin its firmness and elasticity. While your body produces these naturally, the rate at which it does so declines with age, making it important to speed this back up if you want to maintain a smooth and tight complexion.

Vitamin C is also able to protect the skin from UV-induced damage.

Did you know that the amount of vitamin C in your skin decreases when your skin is exposed to UV light?

By boosting this back up, you will be giving your skin an extra form of protection against the sun.

And no, vitamin C cannot replace your sunscreen, but it is a fantastic ingredient to use alongside a sunscreen.

If all of that was not enough…

Vitamin C is also able to help with dry skin.

Illustration of normal skin versus dry skin

How?

By increasing the rate at which barrier lipids are formed. These are the compounds that make up your skin’s natural protective barrier, and prevent the moisture in your skin from evaporating into the air.

By strengthening this barrier, your skin will be able to retain moisture much more effectively, resulting in a softer and smoother complexion.

Finally, vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties. This is why it is a popular ingredient when it comes to tackling acne

When looking for vitamin C in skin care products…

Keep in mind that there are multiple derivatives of the vitamin available, meaning that you may find any of the following listed on an ingredients list:

  • L-Ascorbic Acid – the purest form of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid brings you all of the above-mentioned benefits, but can be quite irritating to the skin due to its potency
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate – more stable and gentle than L-ascorbic acid, but does not penetrate the skin to the same extent
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Palmitate – boosts collagen production just as effectively as L-ascorbic acid, but without any of the irritating side effects

Retinoic Acid

Also known as tretinoin, retinoic acid is a form of vitamin A.

When it comes to skin care, you have likely heard of vitamin A being mentioned quite a few times before…

This is because this is one of the only ingredients out there that has been clinically proven to help reduce the visible signs of aging, from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots and sagging skin.

How does it do this?

By boosting collagen production, speeding up cell turnover and unclogging pores, meaning that it can even make a huge difference when it comes to treating acne.

How long does it take for these effects to become apparent?

It can happen in as little as four weeks.

Unfortunately, many people tend to stop using retinoic acid in under two weeks…

Why?

Because this ingredient does cause a few side effects, such as redness and peeling. It is important to fight through this, because your skin will end up growing more tolerant of the ingredient after a couple of weeks.

To help your skin adjust, make sure that you start off with the lowest dose, slowly working your way up to the recommended amount. It is also advisable that you do not use retinoic acid every day. Instead, start with twice a week, and, again, build this up slowly over time

Just like with vitamin C, there are several vitamin A derivatives out there, from retinol to retinyl palmitate.

However, before your body can actually put those derivatives to work, it has to first convert them into retinoic acid.

By using retinoic acid itself on your skin, no conversions are needed, meaning that the ingredient can get to work much quicker and more effectively.

The downside?

Due to its potency, retinoic acid, unlike many of the other vitamin A derivatives, is only available through a prescription, so you will need to speak to your doctor or dermatologist if you want to start incorporating this ingredient into your skin care routine.

As you can see from the above list, the term “acid” does not need to frighten you…

There are so many skin-boosting acids out there that can really help to improve the health and appearance of your complexion, so don’t be afraid to expand your skin care regimen to include more of them.

Post your comment

125 comments

  1. Posted by Lanie Kay, at Reply
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    All of the acid types gets confusing so thank you for this article.

  2. Posted by wyn hughes, at Reply
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    Excellent product

  3. Posted by Cynthia Gray, at Reply
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    I like all the information you bring. I learned how my skin works and what helps protect it. All the acids that promote beautiful skin. Like what I learned and hope to get to try this new eye cream.

  4. Posted by Mary W, at Reply
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    Great article. I learned many new things.

  5. Posted by Joyce McDaniel, at Reply
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    Love your products and would love to win this.

  6. Posted by Lori P, at Reply
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    Good tutorial. Thanks for this.

  7. Posted by Amy Marshall, at Reply
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    Good article about these 6 acids for the skin!

  8. Posted by Patti Jarvie, at Reply
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    Great info ! Thanks !

  9. Posted by Kimbre Music, at Reply
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    I’ve heard of hyaluronic acid , but I had no idea it had such amazing benefits. Sounds like a great product…I will have to try it!

  10. Posted by Jamie Smith, at Reply
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    Great information!

  11. Posted by Sandy Mathis, at Reply
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  12. Posted by Jamie Smith, at Reply
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    I can’t wait to try your serum!!💕

  13. Posted by Tracey L, at Reply
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    So many different kinds of acids! Great informative post! Thanks so much. There were tons of things that I didn’t know!

  14. Posted by Janet M, at Reply
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    Thanks for your clear explanations. I would love to try your contour eye firming cream.

  15. Posted by Judy L. Paczkowski, at Reply
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    I would LOVE to win this product. Not only do my eyes need it (I’m 66), I love your products but just cannot buy them as often as I would like. I hope I’m a winner!

  16. Posted by Debbie Brick, at Reply
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    Your articles are so informative, I learn something new every time I read them.

  17. Posted by Susan P., at Reply
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    I love hyaluronic acid in serums. I didn’t know about some of the others, so thanks for the info.

  18. Posted by Melanni C., at Reply
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    I love these products!!!

  19. Posted by Teresa Bivings, at Reply
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    Your article was very interesting I would love to win

  20. Posted by Chris Casarez, at Reply
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    excited to try this out

  21. Posted by lynne, at Reply
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    I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the opportunity!

  22. Posted by Bonnie Lake, at Reply
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    ThisSoundsLikeAGreatPrizeToWin!!HopeIAmLuckyEnoughToWin!!!

  23. Posted by patricia caradonna, at Reply
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    I never realized that acids can be beneficial to the skin. Thanks for the informative article.

  24. Posted by Kathleen Sturgis, at Reply
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    I love eye products. At almost 68 years of age, I am constantly fighting the fine lines around my eyes.

  25. Posted by Gabrielle, at Reply
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    I really appreciate the info on ascorbic acid and will be looking into adding it into my skincare regimen.

  26. Posted by Debbie Edgar, at Reply
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    Learn something I didn’t know

  27. Posted by shannon fowler, at Reply
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    i really didn’t know how the acids helped. This really breaks it down great!

  28. Posted by Sandy Reis, at Reply
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    Please I would love to win your products.I am older nd my skin need lots more care and nourishment,I would love to try yours.Thank you

  29. Posted by belinda bell, at Reply
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    This sounds like it would be amazing for my skin

  30. Posted by Janet, at Reply
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    AHA, a very natural acid 💞💞💞

  31. Posted by Kathy Pierce, at Reply
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    I would like to try Vine.vera products, love the reviews!

  32. Posted by Patty wright, at Reply
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    Wow! I didn’t know there were so many different kinds of acids.

  33. Posted by Sheila F, at Reply
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    Great review and theve certainly been reporting the benefits of these ingredients the last few years…nice that they have put them together in a quality cream💋

  34. Posted by Barbara Fehmel, at Reply
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    this is a product I really need, the lines are already there on my face waiting to be cued.

  35. Posted by Amber W, at Reply
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    I absolutely love hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and retinol! All three have helped my skin so much.

  36. Posted by Liz Kilcher, at Reply
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    great info

  37. Posted by Debarah McCarley, at Reply
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    I have used Vine vera products and I love them!

  38. Posted by samantha thomas, at Reply
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    Great information. I neglected my skin care routine growing up but now that im in my 30’s I’m starting to regret that decision and am trying to find a good routine

  39. Posted by Corry L, at Reply
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    Very informative review. Love Vine Vera products! Thank you!

  40. Posted by ANNETTE Fisher, at Reply
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    I learned a lot on acid,thank you for the tips. I always use hyaluronic acid but now I also want to try the vitamin A.

  41. Posted by ANNETTE Fisher, at Reply
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    Thanks for the education

  42. Posted by teena sierson, at Reply
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    At my age of 61 I really could use this for my skin

  43. Posted by Jennifer H., at Reply
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    I learned new info about Vitamin C.

  44. Posted by Anne C, at Reply
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    Informative! I never knew there were so many different kinds of beneficial acids to look for in a face product.

  45. Posted by Bev Sayers, at Reply
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    Would very much would love to try your products. I am entering your contest! Fingers crossed (and I do love cabernet)!

  46. Posted by Jennifer, at Reply
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    I did not realize how many acids there were, I have heard of them all but never really thought about them or their differences and uses. Thanks for the article.

  47. Posted by Terry Crider, at Reply
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    I just bought some of your products today at the Virginia State Fair. I am excited to try them.

  48. Posted by Terry Crider, at Reply
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    I just bought some of your products today at the Virginia State Fair. I am so excited to try them! I hope to win more!

  49. Posted by Rebecca Pierson, at Reply
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    This was very informative about ingredients, thank you!

  50. Posted by Tracy, at Reply
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    This was very informative! I did not know this!

  51. Posted by kim mignella, at Reply
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    love it!

  52. Posted by Medic7845, at Reply
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    Hoping this works.

  53. Posted by Anne S, at Reply
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    Great information. Nice to know some acids are good for your skin!

  54. Posted by Dana, at Reply
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    very detailed and informative

  55. Posted by Chris Heaton, at Reply
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    thanks for the article

  56. Posted by Gabrielly, at Reply
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    I didn’t know how the acids helped. Thanks for sharing.

  57. Posted by julie Redden, at Reply
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    Thanks so much for teaching me about the different kinds of acids for my skin

  58. Posted by Margaret Smith, at Reply
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    Very informative article.

  59. Posted by Corey, at Reply
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    I have heard great things about this product. My wife would love to win this so she could test it.

  60. Posted by Lisa, at Reply
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    Very helpful, I like hyaluronic acid since I have dry skin.

  61. Posted by dawn, at Reply
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    i hope win the prize be nice thing to win

  62. Posted by lisa reid, at Reply
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    Love the fact this is a natural gentle product

  63. Posted by Lisa Female Reid, at Reply
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    Love the fact this is a gentle product that leaves your undereyes hydrated while firming. I have never heard of this brand but I am going to seek it out.

  64. Posted by Abigail Gibson, at Reply
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    Thank you for sharing this awesome and informative article.

  65. Posted by Parmesta Armstrong, at Reply
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    Informative article

  66. Posted by Beatrice P, at Reply
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    I would love to try this for my sensitive skin.

  67. Posted by Jack Riddle, at Reply
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    Awesome!

  68. Posted by Barbara Lima, at Reply
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    I’m getting older, I need more Hyaluronic Acid!

  69. Posted by Jon Heil, at Reply
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    Thanks for the chance to win and try

  70. Posted by JANEEN, at Reply
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    Would love to try these products esp any kind of firming eye creams which I really could use

  71. Posted by Cheryll Powning, at Reply
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    Great information. I already use some of these acids with lasting results.

  72. Posted by Joi Stein, at Reply
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    Would love to try this out!

  73. Posted by Marilyn Holt, at Reply
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    I had no idea about Hyaluronic Acid in our skin and this gives me a whole new way to look at taking care of my skin.

  74. Posted by Richard Hicks, at Reply
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    Did not know so much science about the skin

  75. Posted by Jennylyn Gross, at Reply
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    interesting and informative

  76. Posted by Michael Woods, at Reply
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    Very educational article.

  77. Posted by Ivelisse Woods, at Reply
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    It’s interesting to learn about the benefits of good acids

  78. Posted by lynne, at Reply
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    Informative article. Thank you!

  79. Posted by Lisa Bourlier, at Reply
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    Very useful info!

  80. Posted by Hester, at Reply
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    It would be a welcoming addition to my regiment!

  81. Posted by a rose, at Reply
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    awesome!

  82. Posted by Frances Carty, at Reply
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    This article was very helpful and informative.

  83. Posted by Kate Morris, at Reply
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    The graphic shows there is more going on with my skin than I ever imagined.

  84. Posted by Theresa Moore, at Reply
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    Sounds heavenly! My face needs your products!

  85. Posted by Christina Gould, at Reply
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    I’ve heard of Alpha Hydroxy Acids, but I didn’t know the rest of this stuff. Thanks for posting!

  86. Posted by Amanda, at Reply
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    Great blog!!

  87. Posted by Melinda R., at Reply
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    Very educational/informing. Gotta stay looking young :3

  88. Posted by paige chandler, at Reply
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    I will be sharing this info. Thanks

  89. Posted by michelle weaver, at Reply
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    Nice post! Very interesting.

  90. Posted by Bev Schnitzler, at Reply
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    thank you for the info! i knew some of this but you gave more info than i had

  91. Posted by Amy Webber, at Reply
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    This looks like a really good product

  92. Posted by Kimberly Bryan, at Reply
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    Great article! I enjoy learning new things.

  93. Posted by joanne lowery, at Reply
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    your products are amazing, I have never tried this one however. Would be thrilled and grateful. thanks for the chance to win. I like the info you provide, good to know how our skin works and what our skin response to.

  94. Posted by Victoria Scott, at Reply
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    What an excellent guide! Thank you!

  95. Posted by Brenda Disimone, at Reply
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    Thanks for the informative article !

  96. Posted by Joseph holub, at Reply
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    Very informative thanks

  97. Posted by Renee Bell, at Reply
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    Very informative article, luxurious product.

  98. Posted by Melanie, at Reply
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    Great information.

  99. Posted by Cheryl wong, at Reply
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    Thx for the informative article

  100. Posted by Gal Colleen, at Reply
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    Very interesting to say the least

  101. Posted by Alicia Hewitt, at Reply
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    Thank you for the info!

  102. Posted by Donna Crawford, at Reply
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    Cant wait to try this.

  103. Posted by Young M, at Reply
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    Thanks for the advice. 🙂

  104. Posted by Kathy Switalski, at Reply
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    Very nice.

  105. Posted by Danny G, at Reply
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    great info..awesome product

  106. Posted by locajun1, at Reply
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    Would love to try this product, and compare it to what I already have.

  107. Posted by Nelson L, at Reply
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    Please pick me.

  108. Posted by gloria patterson, at Reply
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    A lot of great information that I saving to review again. Have been a fan of Hyaluronic Acid for a few years. I have quit and always go back to it because it really helps my skin feel hydrated

  109. Posted by Tina, at Reply
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    Thank you for teaching me how to care for my skin!

  110. Posted by Shanice, at Reply
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    Very informative 💜🤓

  111. Posted by John H., at Reply
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    I didn’t know all of this.

  112. Posted by Connie McCullough, at Reply
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    I’ve used Vine Vera products before and never been anything but pleased. The products are too expensive for me to buy regularly, but certainly worth the price. This article is very informative.

  113. Posted by Therese, at Reply
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    I think this product looks good.

  114. Posted by kathy pease, at Reply
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    Thanks for sharing this great info.

  115. Posted by Kim Tanti, at Reply
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    If this cream is all you say it is I could sure use it. I am not a great sleeper.

  116. Posted by Marci, at Reply
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    Very nice information

  117. Posted by donna porter, at Reply
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    I really enjoyed the article. I had no idea there are so many acids.

  118. Posted by Kerry Paul, at Reply
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    I did not know how Hyaluronic Acid worked. This sounds like it may exactly what I was looking for!

  119. Posted by Aubrey Scott Daniels, at Reply
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    Great information! Thanks for sharing

  120. Posted by Buddy Garrett, at Reply
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    Thanks for the very informative post. I assumed all acids were harmful to skin.

  121. Posted by Andrea p., at Reply
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    I just learned so much! Thank you!

  122. Posted by Geri C, at Reply
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    This is a great article. Thank you for it.

  123. Posted by Eileen Boyce, at Reply
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    I would love to try the eye cream.

  124. Posted by Eileen Boyce, at Reply
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    I would love to try the eye cream. thankS

  125. Posted by Kristen H., at Reply
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    Thanks for letting people who read this article know what types of acids to look for in skincare products depending on what they would like the skincare products they purchase to do for their skin. I found it to be very helpful and will definitely come back to it in the future if I am in the market for skincare products.