January 15, 2019

Where these skin care ingredients come from, who needs them, and how they should be used

Alpha Hydroxy Acids offer a long list of benefits for youthful skin types, mature skin types, and everything in between. As with all acids, AHAs need to be used carefully, in expertly designed formulas that dilute their active and powerful properties (which are too harsh for skin in their pure form) with H20 and other natural base oils and extracts.

Acid Main What Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (or AHAs for short) are a group of naturally occurring fruit and sugar acids which when applied topically as skin care ingredients, act to ‘unglue’ the bonds holding dull and dead skin onto the surface of our epidermis. With safe application, the dissolving of these bonds can allow your pores to naturally shed dead skin and sebum buildup, as well as a variety of trapped impurities. In other words, AHAs are powerful exfoliators, which work to reveal smoother and younger looking skin below outer dead skin layers. Because they are a chemical exfoliant, they avoid the pitfalls of skin tugging and damaging that can occur with manual exfoliation (think microbeads, sponges and facial brushes).

AHAs are a water soluble acid group, meaning that their application can also enhance hydration capacity in skin, resulting in a more hydrated and glowy look with regular use. And in addition to sloughing away thicker top layers of skin, AHAs can also increase the cellular integrity of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness, elasticity, and a healthy even tone.

Which Skin Types Need AHAs?

As we age, the skin shedding process can become less efficient as a result of damage caused to collagen stores and to the lipid layer from UV exposure over time. Certain younger skin types can also have trouble with exfoliation, particularly those with enlarged pores that can become easily clogged. Whether you’re dealing with mature skin that’s flakey and sun damaged, or more oily youthful skin with enlarged pores and uneven texture, alpha hydroxy acids can effectively exfoliate skin at the surface while simultaneously working at a deeper level to boost collagen production and firm and plump your skin.

Are All AHAs Created Equal?

In order to avoid damaging the skin, it’s essential that the type of AHAs used are formulated to be as gentle as possible. It’s important that the formula maintains the PH balance of your skin, and in order to get the balance right, skincare experts need to make sure the AHA percentage is low enough for safe at-home application, typically at a level below ten percent unless you’re getting specific advice from a dermatologist

You should also look for vegan sources of AHA, synergistically working in gentle plant based formula with other natural skin brighteners like lemon juice and licorice. Those with more sensitive skin should restrict usage to once or twice a week, or alternately, start with once a week application then work up to every other day. Finally, as always, acids should be applied with a less-is-more approach. It’s also important to be applying SPF if you’re using AHAs, as skin can become more vulnerable to sun damage, burning and irritation.

Types of AHAs Found in Fruit

AHA acids are naturally occuring in a variety of plants, and the umbrella term covers a wide variety of acids. These skin care ingredients have incredible benefits for skin, which can vary based on the type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid that it is. Here are the major AHA players:

Glycolic Acid

One of the most effective AHAs, Glycolic acid, naturally develops in sugarcane. Due to its small molecular size, It has an unmatched ability to penetrate deep into your pores and encourage healthy skin cell turnover, while simultaneously boosting your skin’s ability to retain H20.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is another AHA that can be a powerful skincare addition, found in all citrus fruits, like lemon, bergamot and grapefruit. Citric Acid works as an antioxidant, a PH balancer, and a skin tone brightener when it comes to hyper pigmentation.

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is found in tomato juice, and works similarly to glycolic acid, with the added benefit that it’s slightly gentler, due to its larger molecular size, and subsequent inability to penetrate pores quite as deeply as glycolic acid. Because of this, Lactic acid is an excellent choice for sensitive skin types that experience redness or irritation from glycolic acid.

Mallic Acid

Malic acid, found in apples, is a powerful exfoliant and a rich source of antioxidants, making it an effective ingredient when it comes to battling oxidative damage, free radical induced aging and collagen loss.

Tartaric Acid

And tartaric Acid, found in grapes, is effective when it comes to PH balancing, and can be combined with other AHAs to produce targeted formulas with specific exfoliation benefits for each layer of skin, depending on the molecular compositions of the acids being combined.

In other words: AHAs occur in a variety of plants and fruits that we consume on a daily basis, and when incorporated into skincare regimes with smart application know-how, can leave you with smoother, more hydrated, and visibly firmer skin.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.