Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Good or Bad?

The term alpha hydroxy acids is becoming more and more of a popular term among those of us who are conscious of the beauty products that we use for our skin. There are even some beauty companies out there that use the alpha hydroxy acid content of their products as a focal point for their marketing campaigns. But just what are alpha hydroxy acids?

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHA for short, are compounds that are taken from sugars found in milk and fruits. Alpha hydroxy acids are known to be effective in rejuvenating the skin, making wrinkles disappear and heal the damage caused by photo aging on our skin. AHA does this by exfoliating dead cells off the skin, which in turn encourages the skin to grow cells to replace the old ones. AHA also induces the production of elastin and collagen, the compounds responsible for the reduction of wrinkles and the suppleness of the skin. Alpha hydroxy acids can now be found in a wide range of beauty products eye creams, moisturizers, foundations, toners, cleansers and facial masks.

However, just like any other skin product, AHA should be used discriminatingly, because it is not a miracle potion. If used incorrectly or used too much AHA can irritate the skin. Ironically, as much as AHA can cure photoaging damage, it can also increase the skin’s likelihood to get damage from photo aging. Pigment scarring is also associated with the excessive use of AHA.

Thus, it is very important to exert care when applying alpha hydroxy products on our skin. The best way to do it is to choose one or two products among the number of products that we use for our skin to contain AHA, then use other beauty products that do not have AHA. This will decrease our chances of getting our skin irritated.

Better have those two products that you need to contained AHA to be your exfoliant and your moisturizer. AHA, after all, basically works as an exfoliate, and moisturizer is always left on to let the skin absorb it. The skin must absorb the AHA ingredient of the product in order for AHA to work; thus, using cleansers with AHA do not make sense. Cleansers are just washed off before the AHA can be absorbed by the skin.

Always, always, always use a sunscreen when using a product with an active alpha hydroxy acid ingredient. Remember that AHA increases our skin’s vulnerability to damage from sunlight. Applying sunscreen generously on the skin, especially the part of the skin treated with AHA, is a definite must in order to protect the skin from the negative effects of exposure to sunlight.

Because too much alpha hydroxy acid can be dangerous to the skin, better use a product with only the right levels of AHA in it. The ideal AHA concentration in any product should be around 5% to 8%, and with a pH level of three or four. Any more can do more damage than good for our skin.

Madhupriya Rai Beauty tips of the day

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