Have Younger Looking Skin with Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA's) are acids occurring naturally in foods such as apples, sour milk and sugar cane. Some examples of these acids are:

sugar cane

  • lactic acid from sour milk                
  • glycolic acid from sugar cane
  • citric acid from citrus fruit
  • malic acid from apples

How do AHA's Work?

AHA's help to dissolve the thicker dead cell layers of the epidermis. This helps to increase the cell renewal rate, and improves the skin's ability to hold moisture.

AHA'S are able to do this more effectively than a mechanical exfoliant, yet they are gentle to the skin.

Types of Exfoliation from AHA's

There are two forms of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical.

Chemical exfoliation occurs when using products that contain hydroxyl acids to dissolve the dead skin.

Manual exfoliation occurs when using a product with an abrasive in it where you mechanically scrub the face to loosen up the dead skin cells.    

Both are effective. In general the chemical forms are more effective than the manual.

Using AHA's for Skin Care

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are found in many skin care products:

  • cleansing creams
  • moisture lotion for dry skin
  • moisture lotion for oily skin
  • eye creams
  • liquid foundations
  • and specialty products

They will be most effective in the products that remain on the skin and not washed off like a cleanser. Acids need to be absorbed.

Over the counter sales of these acids cannot be more than 10%.

Higher concentrations can be had but only through trained cosmetologists and estheticians. Concentrations from 10 to 30% are usually found in chemical peels administered by a professional.

Even higher concentrations are available through doctors' offices, but along with that come skin irritation, and treatments need to be done on a regular basis.

pouring milk

Choosing an AHA

Some guidelines for deciding on an AHA formulation:

  • There are two kinds of hydroxy acids - Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy. The difference is how soluble they are.
  • Beta Hydroxy Acids are oil soluble, can penetrate into pores and exfoliate dead skin cells that have built up. They are especially great for whiteheads and blackheads. There is only one kind of beta hydroxyl namely salicylic acid. If you have oily skin you are probably well aware of salicylic acid. It is found in many products made for oily skin.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids are water soluble. They work best if your skin is thick, sun damaged or dry.
  • Sunscreens are a must when using AHA products. You are exposing newer skin to UVA/UVB and that skin must be protected.
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