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Alpha Hydroxy Acid for Skin Health

Rejuvenate, rejuvenate, rejuvenate.

That is the phrase that springs to mind when we discuss lovely alpha hydroxy acids.

Often referred to as AHA’s, they can dramatically help you improve the look and feel of your skin.

If your keen to learn some acidic advantages, then join us as we fine-tune your acid use for smoother, clearer, brighter skin.

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Acid, as a skincare ingredient, does sound harsh, and in theory a really bad. Idea.

Until that is, you consider that vitamin C is also acid-based, then they might not seem quite so aggro, and there’s tons of research backing up their reputation.

They are generally extracted from naturally occurring acids and found in vegetables, fruits and human cells:

Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble and recommended for dry and normal skin types; they work on the surface of your skin, while beta hydroxy acids are oil soluble and penetrate a little deeper into your pore.

What are the different kinds of AHA’s?

The word ‘Alpha Hydroxy Acid’ is, in fact, a bit of a misnomer because there are, in fact, several Alpha Hydroxy Acid ingredients used in skincare:

Malic Acid: Derived from pears and apples.
Mandelic Acid: Derived from bitter almonds.
Citric Acid: Derived from oranges and lemons.
Tartaric Acid: Derived from grapes and passion fruit.
Lactic Acid: Naturally present in milk, cheese, yoghurt and even meat.
Glycolic acid: Derived from pineapple, cantaloupe, sugar cane and grapes, it is the most popular fruit acid used in facial treatments.

How do AHA’S work?

They work by gently dissolving dry, dead skin cells to reveal youthful, healthy skin.

As we age, cellular turnover slows down; old dry cells can adhere to the skin’s surface, making it look dull and flat. Mild concentrations of AHA’s work by weakening the binding properties of the lipids – the glue-like substances that bind our skin cells to each other.

Because you really want your product to work its magic on your skin, we would advise against using cleansers that contain hydroxy acids; instead, opt for a moisturising product that will stay on your skin long enough to have any real benefit.

Avoid using both vitamin A and C at the same time as AHAs to minimise irritation on your skin; don’t forget that sensitive skin requires special attention, which we discuss here and always top up your sun lotion.

What are the beautifying benefits?

The benefits of introducing an alpha hydroxy acid into your skincare routine are numerous; whatever skincare aims you have, from keeping pesky blemishes at bay to revving up your collagen and elastin synthesis, these gorgeous little acids play a vital role in your skincare routine.

You’ve essential got both short term and long term gains in the sweep of a cotton pad.

  • they loosen the ‘cement’ between dead skin cells to hydrate, smooth and brighten your skin
  • they help to remove debris within the follicular wall, helping to unclog your pores
  • they can help to reduce any fine lines you may have by increasing collagen density
  • the results are cumulative, but due to their exfoliating action, products containing alpha-hydroxy acids can leave your skin looking immediately refreshed and more youthful

How often can you use it?

This will differ greatly and is based on the particular acid you plan to use, the type of product, and your skin.

Ensure you follow the product directions, and always introduce them into your skincare routine slowly, gradually increasing them as your skin begins to tolerate it,

Think about the pH

Consider the pH at which it is supplied and stabilised; a good concentration will contain between 5 and 7 per cent alpha-hydroxy acids; this will give your skin a pH acidity of around 4.5 to 5.5, which is the key to maintaining a healthy barrier.

Your skin should remain at an acidic pH to inhibit any potential damaging bacteria; this pH also encourages the growth of good bacteria that keeps your protective acid mantle healthy.

The correct acid pH sustains an optimum level of oiliness, ensuring the correct function of the sebaceous glands in your skin, which ultimately improves your skin’s barrier function.


As you can see, given their wide range of effects, you can really benefit from using the occasional AHA product, just as long as you find the right concentration for your particular skin type.

And if you’re still not sold on the gentle efficiency of many 21st century formulations, we have some words of reassurance. Acids were once associated with strong and aggressive chemical peels, but formulas today have a wonderful synergetic effect.

That said, exfoliating acids aren’t to be used willy nilly, use the wrong one, and you could provoke irritation. At the same time, overuse can increase your chances of sensitivity and sun damage.

If your keen to learn more, this is interesting research on the dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids.

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