AHA such as glycolic acid, BHA such as salicylic acid and PHA such as lactobionic acid: chemical peels that remove dead skin cells from the face, gently clean pores and lighten pigmentation spots and acne scars became an integral part of our skincare routine. This year, they are joined by another super ingredient that is said to specifically help with acne: Succinic Acid.
What Makes Succinic Acid So Special?
Succinic acid is also called amber acid. Amber? Isn't that the brownish-yellow gemstone that is said to have healing properties? In fact, amber is a fossil resin that leaked from coniferous trees millions of years ago and hardened within a very short time. Thus, although amber has fossilised, it remains an organic material.
Dr Golnaz Delir, a specialist in dermatology and venereology at the Kuzbari Centre in Vienna, knows about the special properties of succinic acid: "Succinic acid, called succinyl acid or butanedioic acid, occurs naturally in amber, but is also present in many plant juices such as rhubarb or tomatoes. It is also a metabolic intermediate in the citrate cycle and occurs in the urea cycle. It is not foreign to the body and is therefore used in numerous topical therapies and creams."
And this is not without reason: succinic acid - similar to salicylic acid - not only gently clears the skin of dead skin cells thanks to its mild peeling effect but is also "suitable as an energy booster for cells", says Dr Delir. Besides, succinic acid "inhibits microorganisms such as bacteria", which is why it is an effective active ingredient, especially in the treatment of acne.
The Properties of Succinic Acid at a Glance:
- Mild peeling effect
- Unclogs pores
- Antimicrobial effect
- Supports cell renewal
- Has an antioxidant effect
- Protects against free radicals
- Restores the pH balance of the skin
- Very well tolerated
Use of Succinic Acid: Concentration and pH Value
It is well known that acids only work optimally as chemical peelings on the skin when they are contained in a product in an effective concentration on the one hand and when the pH value of the product is adjusted in such a way that acids can evolve ideally on the other hand.
So what’s the case with succinic acid?
"In the literature, the skin-improving effects, depending on the applied concentration as well as the pH value, can be shown in this case at a concentration of 4 % to 5 % and a pH value of 3. At active ingredient concentrations below 1 % and a pH value higher than 5, efficacy is doubtful," explains Dr Delir.
Products with Succinic Acid
In the cosmetic field, the skin-improving properties of succinic acid are gaining more and more importance. The US company The Inkey List launched its Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment, which reduces inflamed acne. The treatment contains 2% succinic acid derived from corn combined with 1% salicylic acid and 0.4% hyaluronic acid. Blemishes are reduced, excess sebum is removed, and the formation of new skin impurities is prevented.
The Biotec Skin Energising Night Cream by the British skincare brand Elemis with succinic acid and a bio-energy complex of encapsulated copper and zinc supports and maintains cell renewal. The cream strengthens the skin's natural barrier overnight and ensures a radiant, revitalised complexion when you wake up.
The US cosmetics brand Perricone MD relies on the power of succinic acid combined with lactic acid in its Blemish Relief Calming Treatment & Hydrator. The treatment removes bacteria that can cause blemishes and soothes the skin's appearance. Niacinamide supports the healing of inflamed pimples.
When Using Acids: Don't Forget Sun Protection!
Chemical peels remove dead skin cells and reveal new, soft skin. As the new skin is susceptible to light, a product with an SPF of at least 30 should be your daily skincare companion.