This Underhyped Acid Tackles So Many Skin Concerns at Once—Here's What to Know

Honestly, I’d heard of succinic acid before, but I never really considered it when curating my lineup of acne fighters until now. I asked two dermatologists to share a bit more about it. First, what is it? Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, filled us in. “Succinic acid is a compound derived from amber or sugarcane that works as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hydrating ingredient while helping to balance sebum production,” she explains.

Board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD, FAAD, also says, “Succinic acid is considered a well-tolerated ingredient by most skin types. As with any new skincare product, consider doing a test spot if you have sensitive skin. Succinic acid may work best on oily or acne-prone skin because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.” Succinic acid is so gentle on acne that Garshick even touts it as an option for those with sensitive skin who can’t tolerate stronger acne-fighting ingredients. She also says it can be used in conjunction with other acne-fighting ingredients and won’t cause irritation.

Got dark spots after a breakout? No problem! Succinic acid can help with that too. “In terms of hyperpigmentation, succinic acid may modify the production or transport of melanin pigment in the skin, helping to correct or lessen the appearance of dark spots,” Camp adds.

Succinic acid isn’t just great for acne either. This ingredient is great for dehydrated or barrier-damaged skin. Camp says, “By helping skin retain moisture, succinic acid helps to fortify the efficacy of the skin barrier to protect skin from dryness and external stresses like pollution. When skin is hydrated, texture and the appearance of fine lines are improved. As an antioxidant, succinic acid can help neutralize free radicals that damage cellular structures—like DNA, lipids, and proteins—and contribute to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.”

I’m honestly overwhelmed by the amount of skin concerns this single ingredient can tackle. If you’re now looking to add it to your routine in some kind of way, keep scrolling. Camp and Garshick are sharing a variety of products with succinic acid that will work well with any skincare routine.

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