Most skincare obsessives know their way around the more well-known formulas, but phytic acid is an under the radar ingredient that helps with brightening.
When it comes to acids in skincare, it can be a complicated learning process. There might be some teething problems figuring out your salicylic from your glycolic and your hyaluronic from your mandelic acid, but are there lesser known acids that most people don’t know about and are just as effective?
Two words – phytic acid. Sound familiar? Thought not, but even though you’ve probably never heard of it, it’s actually already used in a lot of existing skincare products that you know and love, but it’s an acid on the rise as a leading ingredient.
What is phytic acid?
Phytic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is derived from grains, legumes and rice. “Unlike most AHAs, it doesn’t have specific exfoliation effects, but is used in skincare for its antioxidant effects” says Dr. Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55.
Which acids are similar to phytic acid?
“Phytic acid is similar to glycolic and lactic acid.” says Dr Mahto. “These other two acids are stronger and work by causing a chemical exfoliation in the skin. Phytic acid is the gentlest of the three and causes little exfoliation or irritation to the skin. When phytic acid is combined with glycolic acid, this produces a powerful combination in products, such as toners or peels, for maximum benefit.”
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What skin types is phytic acid best for?
Most skin types should be able to tolerate phytic acid, but there are a few skin types it may provide numerous benefits for. “It’s often found in skincare made for skin brightening or reducing pigmentation but is suitable for acne-prone skin. When used in isolation, it can be used on sensitive skin types, too.” adds Dr Mahto.
What are the benefits of phytic acid?
“The benefits of phytic acid include decongestion of the skin, skin brightening effects, reduction of free radical damage and pigmentation in the skin” says Dr Mahto. Often used in tandem with other acids too, phytic acid often boosts their effectiveness.
The best phytic acid skincare products:
Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
Sarah Chapman Liquid Facial Resurfacer
A powerful combination of phytic, acid and multi-fruit acids team up to slough away dull, dead skin cells and stimulate cellular renewal. Meanwhile, vitamins C and E leave you with a brighter, fresh complexion.
Paula’s Choice Defense Antioxidant Pore Purifier
If an antioxidant powerhouse serum could be bottled up, it would be this. Paula’s Choice’s Purifier contains salicylic acid, phytic acid and a whole host of antioxidants to protect skin against the damaging effects of pollution.
Mene & Moy Phytic Acid Cream
This moisturiser combines 8% glycolic acid with 2% phytic acid to even out skin tone. Here, phytic acid also promotes the production of melanin to help with hyperpigmentation. The cream works best for those with mature skin, uneven complexions and sun-damaged skin.
Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment
This liquid exfoliant contains fruit enzymes and 10% AHA to dissolve dead skin cells and leave skin feeling smoother. It also contains tea extract and home to prevent irritation.
Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Face Serum
Vitamin C, niacinamide, phytic, glycolic and lactic acids all come together in this exfoliating facial serum. It works to improve skin texture while also working as a shield against environmental aggressors.
Main image: Getty images and courtesy of brands.