What are AHAs?
Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs are nature’s acids, found in plants or milk products like; citrus fruits (citric acid), sugar cane (glycolic acid), apples (malic acid), grapes (tartaric acid) and sour milk (lactic acid). AHA is powerful stuff with the ability to loosen layers of dead skin cells lingering on the surface. It’s no surprise that beauty products are choc full of them these days!
By removing old skin, AHAs help to clear blemishes, lighten pigmentation, reduce acne scarring, firm, smooth and open the skin to deeper, better hydration. Skin looks healthier, and younger as a result. They work by dissolving lipids, the glue-like substance that hold our skin cells together, and by exfoliation of dead cells. AHAs also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness and reducing those pesky lines.
Of all the AHAs, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure which allows it to penetrate the skin more deeply and which is why it’s so popular and our recommended product of choice.
How To Use AHAs?
Now AHA are more accessible than ever before with loads of products contain glycolic acid it’s hard to know which ones to choose from cleansers, washes and toners to serums, creams and moisturizers. They can all be used together or as stand alone treatments, but it’s best not to overdo it. One product is enough to see the benefits and if we had to choose it would definitely be a serum. Unlike other AHA products, serums stay on the skin and don’t need to be washed off, prolonging the positive effects on your skin.
If you’ve never used products containing AHAs, or if you have sensitive skin, it might be best to ease into a new regime by starting off applying only one product every other evening for 2 weeks. Nightime is the best time for skin repair when it isn’t exposed to sunlight. Then, after two weeks of trying this approach, you can build up to one application every night for a further two weeks. Once the skin has acclimatized, you can start applying twice daily.
What Are The Benefits?
Nature’s exfoliant, AHAs can literally slough off the skin’s top layer, revealing younger, fresher and firmer skin underneath. They help balance the skin‘s PH and control acne. In the past, anyone wanting to try the benefits of AHAs had to book a facial peel or similar treatment at a clinic with a registered physician but now they’re easily available to everyone.
They’re great for brightening dull skin and unclogging blocked pores, the strong hydration and exfoliation properties promote skin cell renewal without abrasion which is great news for people suffering with psoriasis, acne or prone to break-outs. Sun damaged skin, mild scarring and Melasma (pigmentation problems) all benefit from the ability of AHAs to repair and rejuvenate.
Are There Any Noticeable Side Effects?
There are a couple of minor cautions when using AHA products: sun sensitivity and irritation.
Some irritation is normal so don’t automatically discontinue using products if you experience a little redness or tingling as these effects should disappear quickly.
Ease yourself into a routine of using AHA by following the guidelines above
Some skincare experts recommend applying a thin layer of moisturizer on top of the serum. However, if symptoms like redness or burning continue after you have used the product for some time and your skin has had a chance to adapt, then try using a product with a reduced concentration of AHA.
With daily use of AHAs it’s important to also use a sunscreen as they can make your skin up to 50% more sensitive to the sun.