Succinic acid is something you probably don’t know about. (To be completely honest, we had not heard of succinic acid until quite recently too). We are certain you’ll soon hear a lot more about this new buzzy ingredient. You might be wondering why? It is one of those rare unicorns of skincare, providing a range of benefits including powerful acne-fighting capabilities without causing irritation.
We asked professionals about this acid. Gretchen Frieling MD is a triple-board-certified dermatopathologist from the Boston area. David Petrillo is a cosmetic chemist and founder of Perfect Image. Mark Curry, cofounder and lead chemist at The Inkey List, explains exactly what succinic acids are and how they work. You should also keep an eye out for Mark Curry, this rising skincare star.
What is Succinic Acid?
Frieling explains that succinic acid is an antimicrobial chemical derived from sugar cane or amber, but it is also naturally present in plant and animal tissue. Be careful not to be confused by the term acid. Curry says it is not an exfoliating agent like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. Curry also notes that succinic acid should be considered in the same category as hyaluronic. It’s part what makes it so gentle for all skin types.
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Petrillo says that succinic acid will be more widely known as a skincare treatment for acne and anti-aging. Curry concurs, noting that succinic acids’ many benefits could eventually lead to succinic acid being as popular and effective as vitamin C and retinoids.
Succinic acid for skin: Benefits
Although it is often marketed as an acne-fighting agent (which it is effective at fighting blemishes), succinic acids is a multitasker.
- Antimicrobial properties: Curry claims that succinic acid can inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can cause various types of acne.
- Anti inflammatory properties: Succinic acids’ anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial for treating acne, particularly deep cystic acne. Frieling says that succinic acid is also beneficial for people who suffer from inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. It can calm the skin and promote wound recovery. She says that succinic acid can be used alone to treat these conditions but it can help with visible symptoms. Curry notes that the ingredient has analgesic properties, which makes it a good choice for helping to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by acne and other skin issues.
- Hydration properties: Frieling says that Succinic acid is structurally very similar to our skin’s lipids. It is an effective moisturizer. She also notes that it helps balance and control excess sebum production, which can be helpful for people with oily skin. Curry concurs, noting its ability to soften and condition the skin. Petrillo argues that these benefits can be even more enhanced when it is paired with Hyaluronic Acid.
- Antioxidant properties: the antioxidant properties and the ability to prevent free-radical-induced damages are two reasons succinic acid is an effective anti-aging ingredient.
- Accelerates cellular renewal: Frieling says succinic acid speeds metabolic processes that promote skin revitalization and, ultimately, can help increase skin firmness.
Side effects of Succinic Acid
There are none. Curry points out succinic acid’s inert nature and low risk of causing any problems. Petrillo describes it as “calming, soothing, hydrating and safe for sensitive skin”. To be safe, you can always start slowly or do a patch test on your inner arm.
How to Use it
It is best to search for succinic acids in light serums or treatments. Petrillo notes that the molecule is too small for it to penetrate heavy creams or oils. Be sure to follow the directions for use and application, especially if you’re using an anti-acne product.
The Best Products with Succinic Acid
Petrillo says it’s difficult to find products with succinic acid as the key ingredient. We are sure that there will be more. These are some suggestions from our experts that are worth your consideration.
- Elemis Biotec Skin-Energizing Night Cream
- The Inkey. Hydrator
- Zelens ZHYALURON Hyaluronic Acid Complex Drops
- Perricone MD Acne Relief Calming Treatment & Hydrator