Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of acids that are usually animal and plant derived. It is currently popular in skincare and is used in a many different types of skincare products. It is often seen to occur naturally in milk, sugar cane and fruits. One of the most common use of AHAs is for it to be an exfoliant, this means that it helps remove the dead skin cells on your face and body.
When you apply AHAs onto your skin, it works by making the top layer of your old skin cells loose by breaking down the bond that keeps your skin cells together. Through breaking down your old skin cells, it encourages skin turnover and allows for your skin to grow newer skin cells.
Here are some of the most common AHAs found in skincare:
- Lactic acid: found in dairy and fermented foods
- Glycolic acid: found in sugarcane
- Citric acid: found in citrus fruits
- Malic acid: found in apples
- Tartaric acid: found in grapes
Is there a specific type of AHAs you use?
AHAs are mostly known to be acid exfoliants. It removes the rough outer part of your skin without causing skin irritation. This is the main function of AHAs as it removes the dead skin off your surface while encouraging new skin cell growth. When you age, your skin cell cycle will slow down. This makes the dead skin on your skin build up and make your skin look duller than it is. When the dead skin stays, it can also make your wrinkles and acne more obvious.
When AHAs are applied to your skin, the exfoliation will help make your skin brighter. It works to help lighten your uneven skin texture. In addition, AHAs are known to help reduce hyperpigmentation, sun damage and melasma. It has been suggested that regular use can help treat these issues and dermatologists suggest that AHA peels are able to work on a deeper level than most over the counter products. Lactic acid in particular is one of the most popular AHAs as it is known for being more gentle while effective in treating sun damage.
AHAs are also known to help stimulate collagen production. As you age, more collagen fibres are broken down and AHAs have been proven to reduce the signs of aging. Not only does AHAs increase collagen synthesis, it also helps decrease the deflation of your existing dermal matrix. This means that it can help increase collagen while also decrease the amount of collagen breakdown as you age.
Because AHAs help remove your dead skin, it is an ingredient that is great for those who are acne prone too! Through the exfoliating ingredients, it can help clear the bacteria deep in your pores that causes acne. While clearing blockages, it can also help prevent comedones, blackheads and even inflamed breakouts from forming.
When you use AHAs, you should always use sun protection. This means you gotta put on your sunscreen if you’re going out! There has been studies stating that applying AHAs to your skin leads to your skin to be slightly more UV sensitive. Your UV sensitive could be almost doubled from a regular use of AHAs. However, after 1 week after AHAs usage was stopped, participants saw that their UV sensitivity has declined back to the norm.
AHAs can be found in many different types of skincare products such as cleansers, serums, moisturisers and toners. Some AHAs require you to wash off while others can be left on your skin. When you use your products, make sure you are not using too much AHAs as you can have too much exfoliant products on you. As always, if you are unsure about your skin, you should always contact a dermatologist to explain and help give you advice on your skincare routine.