Succinic Acid for Skin: Why It’s Great + How It’s Used

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on September 25, 2023
succinic acid for skin
⏱️ 7 min read

When it comes to skincare, everyone is always on the lookout for the next big ingredient that promises to transform and repair their skin. And we’re guessing you probably haven’t heard of succinic acid – yet!

This ingredient is considered to be the next holy grail skincare ingredient, so in this article, we’ll explore what succinic acid is, its benefits, and the best products on the market to incorporate into your skincare routine. Let’s get started!

What Is Succinic Acid?

Succinic acid, also known as butanedioic acid, is a compound derived from amber or sugar cane – similarly to glycolic acid, actually. But the big difference between these two acids is that succinic acid isn’t known for exfoliating, but rather for hydrating and soothing properties

It naturally occurs in various plants and animals, and even in our human bodies. Structurally, it’s very similar to our skin’s own lipids so it helps control and balance excess sebum production.

This, paired with its non-irritating properties, makes it great even for acne-prone and sensitive skin. In fact, this ingredient is so multifaceted any skin type can use it!

It’s primarily used for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but it’s also a powerful antioxidant, making it effective in combating free radicals and reducing hyperpigmentation, dryness, and even fine lines and wrinkles.

what is succinic acidImage source: Freepik

What Can Succinic Acid Do for Your Skin?

For such an under-the-radar ingredient, succinic acid actually does a lot! Let’s see some of the most prominent succinic acid skin benefits:

Acne and Blemish Treatment

Succinic acid is great for reducing inflammation, controlling excess oil production, and killing acne-causing bacteria, while remaining gentle on the skin. So one of the most notable benefits of succinic acid for the skin is its effectiveness in treating acne and blemishes.

Helps Soothe Skin

Because of its calming properties, succinic acid can help soothe irritated skin and reduce skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. It even has analgesic properties as well, meaning it can help relieve at least some of the discomfort.

Skin Brightening and Even Tone

Another advantage of succinic acid for skin is its ability to brighten the skin and even out the skin tone.

This compound prevents the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for dark spots and hyperpigmentation, so by reducing its production, succinic acid helps to fade existing discoloration and prevent new spots from forming, resulting in a more even complexion.

Anti-Aging Properties

Succinic acid also has great anti-aging benefits. It’s an antioxidant so it helps to neutralize free radicals that contribute to premature aging, while also stimulating collagen production, which is essential for skin’s elasticity and firmness.

So by incorporating succinic acid skincare in your routine, you can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and achieve a more youthful complexion.

Hydrates the Skin

Being so similar to the oils our body naturally produces, succinic acid is a very effective hydrator. It helps soften and hydrate the skin and pairs great with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid which increases their effects.

How to Incorporate Succinic Acid Into Your Skincare Routine

Since this ingredient is still a hidden gem among the mainstream skincare trends, not a lot of people have caught on to the succinic acid benefits just yet.

This means that product choice isn’t as large. Still, it can be found in various skincare products, as a supporting acid, given its non-irritating properties.

Ideally, it’s best to look for succinic acid in a lightweight serum as the molecule is too small to be able to effectively penetrate through heavy creams and oils.

The ingredient can be used daily – either in the morning, at night, or twice a day. But always make sure to follow the instructions your product comes with, especially if you’re using succinic acid spot treatment.

Also keep in mind that you will need to be patient and consistent to see the results because succinic acid, like most topical skincare ingredients, takes time to work. In general, full benefits usually aren’t seen until four to six weeks of consistently using the ingredient.

Best Succinic Acid Products on The Market

When it comes to choosing succinic acid skincare products, there are several options available on the market.

Essentially, you can incorporate this ingredient into pretty much any step of your skincare routine, so here’s a list of skincare products that can help you incorporate succinic acid in skin care:

Succinic Acid Cleanser: ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Energising Marine Cleanser

This gentle cleanser removes daily grime, makeup, and impurities whilst balancing out the skin. Thanks to the combination of ferulic acid, lactic acid, and succinic acid, it helps brighten and smoothen the skin’s texture over time.

The deep cleansing action helps reduce excess oil and minimize the visibility of pores but doesn’t strip the skin of its essential moisture.

Succinic Acid Essence: Facegym Skin Changer 2-in-1 Exfoliating Essence Toner for Face

Essences are often left out of skincare routines, but this step can make a huge difference – especially if it also helps stimulate skin cell turnover.

Facegym Skin Changer 2-in-1 Exfoliating Essence Toner contains 2% succinic acid which helps target blemishes, pores, and dark spots, giving you a radiant skin appearance, while also hydrating and nourishing the skin along the way.

Succinic Acid Serum: Perricone MD Acne Relief Calming Treatment & Hydrator

This product is a lightweight formula containing succinic acid as well as niacinamide and squalene which helps lock in moisture and increase the effects of these two amazing ingredients.

The product is designed to help support the skin’s natural processes, but also keep the acne-causing bacteria and impurities at bay.

Succinic Acid Serum for Acne: Cetaphil Gentle Clear Triple-Action Treatment

If you are fighting acne and you want a succinic acid spot treatment that can be used every day and is made specifically to target your acne breakouts, then this one from Cetaphil is a great option for you!

It’s exfoliating, non-comedogenic, and smoothing with a combination of active ingredients like salicylic acid, succinic acid, niacinamide, and zinc, which are all incredible ingredients for targeting acne while successfully catering to sensitive and blemish-prone skin.

Succinic Acid Spot Treatment: The Inkey List Succinic Acid Spot Treatment

Another effective but gentle succinic acid spot treatment is from The Inkey List.

This spot treatment has gained love not only because of its effectiveness in targeting acne but also due to its green color which makes it great for wearing under makeup to neutralize and cover up the redness.

The color is obtained from a natural chlorophyll plant pigment and combined with the strength of succinic acid, salicylic acid, and sulfur powder, this product works for both clearing and camouflaging breakouts!

Succinic Acid Cream: Rael Beauty Miracle Clear Barrier Cream

This cream from Rael Beauty is a great moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin, as it’s lightweight and hydrating without feeling greasy.

It also works for sensitive skin since succinic acid is not as strong as some other anti-acne acids can be, while still delivering noticeable results and improving the skin’s texture.

Succinic Acid Night Cream: FaceGym Cheat Mask Resurfacing Overnight Treatment

This overnight treatment works similarly to a night cream instead of a typical face mask, and it’s infused with bio-succinic acid and lactic acid for glowing skin.

It can reduce the size of pores, smooth fine lines and improve the skin’s moisture barrier, so grab this mask if you want to achieve the look of a great night’s sleep.

Succinic Acid Exfoliator: [SKIN&LAB] Porebarrier Clear Pad with 2% Succinic Acid

These exfoliating pads from SKIN&LAB are pre-soaked with 2% succinic acid (and other beneficial ingredients) so they’re a very convenient way of exfoliating and hydrating at the same time!

They’re dual-sided with a rough and smooth side, which are meant to be used as steps 1 and 2 – the first one removing all excess sebum and dirt and the smooth one depositing additional essence-like properties.

What Can Be a Succinic Acid Alternative?

When it comes to professional treatments, you can look into chemical peels. They are fully customizable to fit your skin needs so they too can target any issue succinic acid can. In fact, some chemical peels can even incorporate succinic acid alongside other more powerful acids like AHAs or BHAs.

As for non-professional options, another great ingredient with similar properties is niacinamide – which also helps soothe skin, improve moisture loss, and reduce excess sebum production. You can find more information (and product recommendations) about it here.

Let’s Sum Up

Succinic acid may not be on everyone’s radar just yet, but this ingredient is so multifaceted it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the next holy grail ingredient. And thanks to its many benefits it honestly should be.

It certainly has the potential to transform your skincare routine and help you achieve healthier, more radiant skin. So why not give it a try and see if succinic acid is the missing piece in your skincare routine!

Cover image source: Freepik

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