Ingredient Deep Dive: A Few Key Things To Know About Malic Acid in Skincare

If you regularly incorporate alpha-hydroxy acids in your skincare, you’re likely familiar with formula favourites like glycolic and lactic acid, which appear in many of today’s popular exfoliating products. 

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However, if your skin struggles to keep up with these heavy hitters, or you’ve been looking to try something new, we’d like to give a little well-deserved attention to another member of the AHA family: Malic Acid.

What is Malic Acid? Quick Facts

This skincare ingredient might be one of your new favourites once you find out precisely what it can do for your skin! Here are a few essential facts about this lesser-known but equally excellent skincare ingredient. 

Fact #1: Malic Acid Is Derived From Fruit

Our body naturally produces Malic acid, which can also be found in various fruits, including berries, cherries, and pears. As an ingredient, its primary source is unripe fruit, and in particular, apples. The name Malic Acid comes from the word “malum,” Latin for apple. 

Besides skincare, Malic Acid can be found in other beauty formulas, including hair products, nail treatments, and body lotions. 

This fast-acting mask from La Prairie works hard to instantly smooth skin and add a luminous glow thanks to a blend of Malic Acid, Glycolic Acid, and Lactic Acid.

Fact #2: Malic Acid Focuses on Gentle Exfoliation

Similar to other alpha-hydroxy acids, Malic Acid is classified as an exfoliant because it works to break up the bonds between dead cells on the skin’s surface. 

However, it is unique compared to its other counterparts because it has a larger molecular structure, meaning it acts less aggressively when applied topically. For this reason, experts say it’s less likely to irritate and can be an excellent choice for sensitive skin.

This effective, yet gentle mask from Juvena banishes congestion and stimulates collagen levels in skin with the perfect blend of exfoliating acids.  


Fact #3: Malic Acid Benefits All Skin Types

Another reason to love Malic Acid is that it’s incredibly versatile! Some key benefits it provides as an ingredient are promoting pH balance and hydration in the skin, brightening a dull complexion, preventing breakout-causing congestion, and addressing signs of ageing by encouraging cellular turnover and reducing the appearance of fine lines. Some studies even indicate that it can help diminish acne scarring.

This bi-phase exfoliating formula from Murad effectively rejuvenates skin while leaving it feeling soft and smooth, thanks to a blend of exfoliating acids. 

Fact #4: Malic Acid Pairs Well With Other Actives

If you’re someone whose skin tolerates exfoliant acids well, it’s worth noting that there’s no need to give up your tried and true AHAs. 

When combined with Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, or others, Malic Acid can enhance the exfoliation effects, providing additional polishing on the skin's surface. You can also get great results using it alongside other super ingredients like Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid, supporting their benefits and providing a few of its own.

Combining the benefits of physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation, this iconic product from Dermalogica leaves skin glowing, smooth, and radiant.

Fact #5: Malic Acid Is Easy To Add to Your Skincare Routine

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and this advice may also apply to Malic Acid. Thanks to its gentle properties, healthy skin can tolerate Malic Acid in small doses daily or even twice daily, depending on what other active ingredients you may be using simultaneously. 

Just be sure to treat it like any other exfoliant and decrease usage if you notice negative adverse such as redness, itching or irritation. 

Malic Acid is just as beneficial for your body as it is for your face - this softening scrub from Dermalogica uses Malic Acid in a warming formula for smooth skin from top to toe. 

Malic Acid Benefits for Skin: The Bottom Line

This gentle AHA is one that you can include in your skincare routine to firm skin, lighten dark spots, and smooth away congestion. It’s especially effective when combined with other exfoliating acids for fast results without irritation! Malic acid is ideal for all skin types and is a must-have in your skincare routine.

Or, if you’re trying to create a skincare routine in the first place, try our skin analysis. You’ll get a detailed result about your skin type, plus a free mini-routine of the skincare products that we think are best for helping you reach your skin goals!

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