The Benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids for the Skin

By Lee Ann Buttery
When it comes to caring about your health, skin care should be no exception. One type of skin care ingredient—Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)—are derived from natural sources to offer varying levels of exfoliation. They can help address hyperpigmentation and other signs of aging as well as acne.
There are various types of AHAs, including Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid and Tartaric Acid. Aside from their exfoliating abilities, they each play a unique role in helping to improve the skin. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are used in all types of skin care products, from cleansers to toners and moisturizers.
It’s important to note that it’s even more important to use a moisturizer with sun protection when you’re using any type of AHA. If your skin is oily, opt for an oil free moisturizer with SPF.
Glycolic Acid
Glycolic Acid is derived from sugar cane and is one of the most popular types of AHA. It helps to retexturize the skin when used consistently and comes in a wide variety of concentrations (from as little as two percent up to 70%). Furthermore, it is used in all sorts of skin care products such cleanser serums, and glycolic gel.

Some people make the mistake of going glycolic crazy; it is important to note that using a higher concentration of Glycolic Acid too often (20% or higher) can damage the skin’s protective lipid barrier. For example, a chemical peel with a strength of 30% Glycolic Acid should only be done sporadically. It is generally safe to use a skin care product with a low concentration of Glycolic Acid (two to ten percent) several times a week.
Lactic Acid
Lactic Acid is derived from sour milk and is also considered one of the most popular forms of alpha hydroxy acids. It is gentler than Glycolic Acid and is unique for its hydrating and calming properties, thereby making it ideal for sensitive skin types.
Malic Acid
Derived from apples, Malic Acid is similar to Glycolic Acid; it helps to improve the skin’s texture, promotes a more even skin tone, helps tighten pores, and helps address hyperpigmentation and congestion.
Citric Acid
As you might guess, Citric Acid stems from citrus fruits. It has natural brightening properties to help improve skin tone and hyperpigmentation. Moreover, Citric Acid helps to increase the production of collagen.
Tartaric Acid
Derived from grapes, Tartaric Acid helps to improve the overall texture and tone of the skin.
Whichever AHA you choose, remember not to go overboard if you are using a higher concentration! When used correctly, AHAs can have a seriously positive effect on your skin!
Lee Ann Buttery is a Licensed Esthetician and Professional Makeup Artist that works for Mario Badescu Skin Care. She is passionate about all things beauty-related and has a particular obsession with anti-aging.

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