Updated: Dec 12, 2021
Ingredients like glycolic acid are fine to use
"There are lots of ingredient myths," says Dija. "When I hear that Black people can't use glycolic acid, it's a whole load of tosh. Unfortunately, problems that arise around ingredients are usually down to user error — not the ingredient itself. I've seen lots of people using ingredients like glycolic acid incorrectly and thinking the ingredient is bad for Black skin." Dija says that if you have sensitised skin — Black or white — and you use glycolic acid, it is going to sting. "This is because you haven't looked at your skin condition and skin type, and judged whether that was going to be good for you." Try using glycolic acid once or twice a week in the evening (before moisturiser) until your skin builds up tolerance, and always wear SPF during the day, as exfoliating acids make skin sensitive to sunlight.
Another solution to getting to know acids? Dija recommends regular, gentle exfoliation to remove the build-up of dull, old skin cells and clogged pores using polyhydroxy acids(PHAs). They aren't as fast-acting as a glycolic acid and are less likely to cause irritation.