Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

For centuries natural compounds containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids have been used to promote youth, dating back as far as the Egyptians. AHA's were first used in the early nineties by dermatologists for in-office facial peels, and their dramatic results led to the development of over-the-counter products. In 1992, Alpha Hydroxy Acids were approved by the FDA for at-home use.

How Alpha Hydroxy Acids Work

Alpha hydroxy acids work mainly as an exfoliant. Unlike surface or manual exfoliation, AHA's have been proven to have both epidermal and dermal effects. Alpha Hydroxy Acids have a substantial effect on keratinisation, dissolving the cement that holds dead skin cells together, increasing cell turnover, and sloughing off dull, rough skin on the surface. They cause the cells of the epidermis to become "unglued" allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. Alpha hydroxy acids may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Alpha hydroxy acids are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and long-term appearance of sun damaged and aging skin.

When choosing an Alpha Hydroxy Acid, it is important to pay attention to the formulation. In order to determine how active an Alpha Hydroxy Acid product is, look at both the concentration of AHA and the pH of the product. An effective concentration should contain at least 8% Alpha Hydroxy Acid with a pH between 3.5 and 4.0. A pH of up to 4.5 is acceptable on products with high concentrations of 20- 25%. Products for use at home should never contain over 25% Alpha Hydroxy Acid content. For those desiring to use concentrations over 15%, a doctor's supervision is required.

Not all Alpha Hydroxy Acids are created equal. Some are more irritating or more moisturizing, some are better for breakouts, and some are stronger than others. Be sure to choose the right AHA formulation for your skin type.

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