AHAs: Noticeable results without irritation

We have already discussed BHAs, so this article is dedicated to gentler acids that still provide truly noteworthy results – AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). These acids are meant for the exfoliation of the outermost layers of the skin and help to get rid of dead skin cells that make the skin dull and have a negative effect on its color, texture, and general health. AHAs are considered to be some of the most potent anti-aging ingredients in the beauty industry next to anti-aging MVPs such as retinoids and peptides.

What can AHAs do for your skin?

1. AHAs are a great chemical exfoliant.

The main purpose of AHAs is exfoliation. The pH of AHAs is a little higher than that of BHAs so they don‘t penetrate as deep into the skin and are mean for the exfoliation of the outermost layers of the skin. Exfoliation does not only help us remove dead skin cells but also promotes the generation of new skin cells so the skin can renew itself faster.

2. AHAs promote collagen production.

Since because of various internal and external factors the amount of collagen in our skin decreases with age, this process causes the skin to become saggier, dull, and tired. Collagen is found in the dermis, so after the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) is exfoliated, AHAs can reach the mid layer of the skin where they remove old collagen fibers and create more hospitable conditions for the production of new ones.

3. AHAs brighten the skin.

After the dead skin cells are removed, a new layer of the skin is uncovered and that layer is a lot brighter, fresh, and glowing.

4. AHAs fight acne and help to prevent it. 

Since dead skin cells and the oils that get trapped within them clog the pores and create a perfect environment for acne, exfoliation is a crucial part of battling pimples and pustules. AHAs help to soften and remove all the debris with the pores. Regular exfoliation can prevent clogging in the future. It also helps to fight acne scars since the cell turnover intensifies and the appearance of the outer layer of the skin significantly improves.

5. AHAs fight skin discoloration.

In time, the risk for skin discoloration increases. We might notice some dark spots that are the result of long-term UV exposure. Discoloration can also appear during pregnancy and after, it can also be a consequence of various inflammatory conditions. Since AHAs promote skin turnover, they fight discoloration by removing the damaged cells and promoting faster production of new and healthy cells.

6. AHAs increase the absorption of other products.

Dead skin cells create a barrier that makes it hard for skincare products to reach the deeper layers of the skin. If you don‘t exfoliate, your products may just sit on the other layers of the skin and keep from you achieving the results that you desire. By exfoliating the skin with AHAs, you open the path for other products and give them the opportunity to help our skin to the deepest levels.

7. AHAs fight inflammation.

A big part of AHAs are anti-inflammatory so they not only help you fight acne, eczema, or rosacea but also promote the blood flow of the skin. When the blood flow is optimal, the skin is provided with all the nutrients that it needs and all the processes run smoothly.

Cleanser with azelaic acid for rosacea-prone skin

Volume: 200 ml

AHAs in skincare

The most popular skincare products usually contain the two most popular AHAs – glycolic of lactic acids. These acids are backed by science, their efficacy is appreciated by skincare experts and the general skincare community alike. Rarer, yet also important AHAs are citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid. One of the most important reasons for the popularity of glycolic and lactic acids is the fact that they are gentle, yet, very effective. They are also suitable for pregnant women.

It‘s important to notice that both AHAs and BHAs are suitable not only for the exfoliation of face, neck and décolletage but also for other body parts. They can help you get rid of stubborn pimples on your shoulders, back, buttock, or legs.

Gentle azelaic acid cleanser MATH Scientific

1. Glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane. Its molecules are the smallest of all AHAs so it can penetrate deep into the skin and exfoliate it more effectively than other AHAs. Glycolic acid is suitable for most skin types since it provides all the AHA benefits mentioned above but is gentle on the skin even though it penetrates deeper than the rest of AHAs. Those, why are at the start of their acid skincare journey should begin with cleansers that contain glycolic acid since in that case, the acid will stay on your skin for a limited amount of time after which you’ll rinse it off with water. The water will not only remove the cleanser but also neutralize glycolic acid.

2. Lactic acid.

Even though naturally this acid is found in milk products, the lactic acid that is used in skincare nowadays is usually synthesized in a lab. (Do you remember the stories about Cleopatra and her milk baths that were considered to be her ultimate beauty secret? Most likely, those milk baths were so effective exactly because they were packed with lactic acid. Luckily, we can enjoy its benefits in ways that are far more simple). Lactic acid is more gentle than glycolic acid but, just like other AHAs, it gently exfoliates the skin and makes it brighter, helps to fight premature aging and hyperpigmentation. However, lactic acid also helps those who battle keratosis pilaris otherwise known as “chicken skin” that is found on the back of one’s arms. Lactic acid helps to exfoliate the keratin plug around the hair follicle and clears the tiny bumps.

Important: Since AHAs make skin more susceptible to other skincare products it also becomes more susceptible to such environmental factors as UV rays. Therefore, if you’re using acids in skincare, make sure to wear sunscreen every day.