Ingredient Spotlight: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

By Charity

  • Whether it’s a cream or a peel, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the active ingredient exfoliating your skin
  • We love AHAs because they serve as a way to gently exfoliate the skin while also improving firmness and elasticity
  • Consider incorporating a gentle dose of AHAs into your skincare routine through a toner or serum!

Getting the best results from our skincare products is all about having the right combinations and concentrations. This is especially true for acid-based exfoliating products. Whether it’s a cream or a peel, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the active ingredient exfoliating your skin. You may be familiar with AHAs, but for those of us who aren’t so much, read on to learn more.

How do they work?

AHAs penetrate the skin to break down the ‘glue’ holding molecules together. By busting through oil build-up, acne or scar tissue, AHAs help the pores breathe again. Exfoliation supports the natural removal of dead skin, thus paving the path for rejuvenated skin. This is when that extra glow on our skin emerges! The shedding of dead skin and production of new skin cells is turbocharged by AHAs.

The effectiveness of AHAs is determined based on concentration levels and exposure time. Higher concentrations of AHAs allow them to penetrate as deep as the dermal layer, which is where the kickstarting of collagen production can happen.

However, higher concentrations can also leave the skin more exposed to sun damage. Studies have shown that using combinations of AHAs at lower concentrations may yield the best results, reducing irritation of the skin.

If you are familiar with AHAs, you may know that there are four main ones used in a variety of skincare products: glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid and malic acid. Each of these vary in source and effectiveness based on concentration. While they are all naturally occurring, they can also be synthetically produced. Studies have shown that both are just as effective in their purpose.

  • Glycolic acid, which can be sourced from sugar cane, is best known for its ability to penetrate the deepest to support collagen production. Glycolic acid is best used in lower concentrations so as to reduce the potential for sun damage.
  • Lactic acid, which comes from milk sugars, is well known for its more gentle approach to exfoliation, but it also has a great moisturizing effect.
  • Citric and malic acids can be found in fruits. Citric acid is known to increase the skin renewal rate. Malic acids are larger in size, which means it is much gentler in its penetration of the superficial layer.

If you are looking to add these exfoliating and skin-renewing turbocharged ingredients to your routine - look no further! AHAs can be found over the counter in toners, serums and moisturizers.

You’ll want to find applications that are more gentle and don’t irritate the skin with consistent use. We love AHAs because they serve as a way to gently exfoliate the skin while also improving firmness and elasticity. These are all wins for healthy and glowing skin!