Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)

So, what are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)?

The AHA family of acids are derived from natural sources such as fruit, milk or sugar.

Generally speaking, the benefits of AHAs on the skin include exfoliation, brightening, smoothing, anti-aging, and acne prevention.

Two of the most commonly used AHAs in skincare, however, are glycolic acid that is derived from sugar and lactic acid which is made from milk.

The former is unique in that the molecules of glycolic acid are smaller than those found in other AHAs which allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin providing its benefits more effectively and to more layers of the skin.

Lactic acid, on the other hand, offers the same benefits of other AHAs but as a non-friction exfoliant that breaks down and dissolves dead skin cells without causing skin irritation, it is suitable for use on sensitive skin.

How do Alpha Hydroxy Acids work

Our skin naturally exfoliates dead cells every day, but over time this shedding process slows and may stop altogether.  This is usually because of aging and unprotected sun exposure.  This results in dull, dry, or flaky skin.  Not only this but clogged, enlarged pores; bumps, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and uneven skin tone.

Remember when you were younger?  Your skin naturally exfoliated its build-up of dead skin.  By doing this it reveals the beautiful, soft, hydrated skin hiding underneath.

Now, you may wonder why there are no bits in if they exfoliate.  The answer is it is the AHA that is a chemical and works to break down the bonds holding dull, dead skin on the surface.

By doing this the skin naturally sheds its used up cells.

So, although you won’t actually see your skin exfoliating, you’ll soon see, and feel, the smoother, younger looking skin.


Benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)

The benefits of these ingredients are amazing.  So I thought I would list a few here.

  • diminish the look of lines and wrinkles
  • make skin look and feel firmer
  • hydrate skin
  • improve the look of dull, uneven skin tone
  • smooth rough, bumpy texture

AHAs are water soluble so only work on the skin’s surface.  They are generally preferred for normal to dry, sun-damaged skin, due to their ability to enhance natural moisturising factors within skin.  AHA’s have also been proven to be effective in reducing the visible signs of sun damage, including crepey skin and wrinkles.

Can You Combine AHA and BHA?

Using an AHA exfoliant, known as chemical exfoliation, rather than the ‘mechanical’ action of a scrub is not as complicated or scary as it might seem.

If you’re choosing well formulated, gentle exfoliants, there really isn’t a downside.  However it is important to monitor how your skin responds and adjust usage if needed.  Do not keep doing the same thing if it doesn’t work.

How often should I use an AHA

Should you apply an AHA time twice per day? Probably not.  I would say no.

Most people do not need that level of exfoliation but experiment to see which combination and frequency of application work best for you.

Alternate exfoliants and how often to exfoliate

  • Most people can exfoliate once a day, in the morning or evening based on personal preference.
  • If you want to alternate an AHA and BHA, simply decide which exfoliant to use at the beginning of each week and then alternate day by day. You can also use one for a week, then switch to the other the following week.
  • Another option is to apply one type of exfoliant in the morning and another at night. This can be a great approach for breakout-prone skin showing signs of sun damage.
  • You also can experiment by alternating different strengths of an AHA or BHA, or both!
  • Once or twice per week, rotate into your routine a higher-strength specialised AHA to give yourself an ‘at-home peel’ experience that delivers more dramatic results.

Ultimately, there’s no single best way to use AHA exfoliants.  It is all about experimenting to find out what works best for you and then adjusting based on the changing needs of your skin.

Lots of love

This is all said with love, I know many people have different opinions and that is absolutely fine.  The biggest piece of advice I always say is:

‘Listen to your skin!!’

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  These should not cause any damage to your skin, if used correctly for YOUR skin!

Any questions, just ask…

Much love.

Louisa Ashforth Signature