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Fulvic acid: is it the gentle answer to better skin?

We give you the lowdown on this transformational ingredient with the power of vitamin C but without the irritation

Fulvic acid, once relegated to the realms of agriculture and soil science, has recently taken the skincare industry by storm, promising the same radiance-enhancing, skin protecting abilities as vitamin C, without the risk of irritation. From serums to moisturisers and cleansers, fulvic acid is touted as a game-changer in the pursuit of flawless skin. But what exactly is fulvic acid, and does it live up to the hype?

What is fulvic acid?

Found in soil, rocks and water, it forms as organic matter decomposes, releasing potent nutrients and minerals essential for plant growth. However, don’t let these unglamorous origins put you off, as in skincare it acts as a powerful antioxidant as well as a humectant, meaning it helps to attract and retain moisture in the skin.

What does it do?

Multifaceted benefits including hydration, antioxidant protection, and anti-inflammatory properties, make fulvic acid a great addition to your skincare routine. One of its key functions is its ability to enhance the delivery of nutrients to skin cells, promoting cellular turnover and regeneration.

“It’s being used in skincare for its brightening properties and ability to protect from environmental pollution and sun damage, as well as for its antioxidant and soothing properties,” says Medical Director of Vie Aesthetics and EV Expert, Dr Ionnis Liakis. This leads to a brighter, more youthful complexion, as well as improved texture and tone.

Which skin types does it suit?

Fulvic acid's versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of skin types. For those with dry or dehydrated skin, it helps to replenish moisture levels and restore suppleness. Similarly, mature skin can benefit from fulvic acid's ability to stimulate collagen production and combat the signs of ageing, while its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in soothing irritated or sensitive skin.

“Due to its milder touch, fulvic acid is seen as a gentler alternative to vitamin C for sensitive skin, “says Dr Liakis, “while anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help to calm breakouts and reduce redness in acne prone skin.”

Fulvic acid is also recommended by doctors for medical purposes: “It’s used to alleviate the discomfort associated with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, to help itchiness, cracking and soreness,” says Dr Liakis.

Is it safe?

Fulvic acid is generally considered safe for topical application. However, as with any new skincare ingredient, it's essential to perform a patch test before adding it into your routine, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Although fulvic acid is derived from natural sources, check that products are formulated and tested by reliable skincare brands to guarantee efficacy and safety.

Are there any side effects?

In most cases, fulvic acid is well-tolerated with minimal risk of side effects. However, mild irritation or sensitivity may occur, particularly if there are pre-existing skin conditions or a compromised skin barrier. Therefore, it's best to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase frequency and potency as your skin adjusts. Avoid combining fulvic acid with other potentially irritating ingredients, such as retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids, without consulting a dermatologist first.

How is it used?

Incorporating fulvic acid into your skincare routine is relatively straightforward–it can be found in serums, moisturisers, masks, hair products and even cleansers. It can be used on its own in a skincare product but as Dr Liakis says, “it pairs well with vitamin C and a good sunscreen for enhanced efficacy.”

For best results, cleanse skin thoroughly before applying fulvic acid-based products. If using a serum or moisturiser, gently massage a small amount onto the face and neck, avoiding the delicate eye area. Allow the product to absorb fully before layering additional skincare products or makeup.

Products to try

The Inkey List Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser
Fulvic acid derived from mineral-rich Nordic Beauty Peat is combined with vitamin C-rich kakadu plum to exfoliate and illuminate the skin, while liquorice root extract deals with hyperpigmentation and aloe vera soothes and calms.

Ful.Vic Health Fulvic Face Cream
This age-defying peptide rich face cream contains fulvic acid, Moroccan argan, vitamin E and Alpha Lipoic Acid to protect, hydrate, plump and rejuvenate the skin.

Oio Lab Fulvic Ionic Mineral Face and Scalp Toner
A multi-tasking mist to nourish and revitalise skin and scalp while promising to support a healthy, diverse skin microbiome, and providing a shield against environmental stressors.

Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director

Dr Ioannis Liakas is a shining gem in the aesthetics world. Prior to becoming an industry leading practitioner, he worked...

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