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What exactly are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and how do they benefit our skin? AHAs are a group of chemical compounds that may be naturally occurring or synthetic. All AHAs, although some milder than others, offer chemical exfoliation by dissolving the alkaline bonds between dead skin cells and thus causing dead skin to flake off evenly and at a faster rate. Doing so reveals skin that is fresher, smoother and beautifully radiant.
Different types of AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, citric acid and tantaric acid. It is important to note that each type of AHA has its own strengths and advantages over another. Selection and usage of AHAs depend largely on the individual patient’s skin type and needs, as well as the formulation of the AHA products (appropriate concentration and pH levels). When properly formulated, AHAs have the ability to combat effects of aging and photo-damaged skin:
1. Promote Even Complexion and Smooth Skin Texture
All AHAs promote natural desquamation (exfoliation of the dead and dying cells) of the horny layer (outermost layer) of the skin. The cells beneath are newer, fresher and more hydrated, therefore immediately providing a softer, smoother and more radiant appearance to the skin. With prolonged use, AHAs help regulate cellular renewal which tends to slow with age.
2. Encourage Healthier Skin that Behaves and Looks Better
AHAs promote healthier skin cells and part of this is due to the fact that unhealthy cells are less acid resistant and are selectively removed, while the healthier cells resist the acid, multiply and take over the place of the unhealthy cells.
3. Treat Sun Damage and Hyperpigmentation for Brighter, More Even Skin Tone
Irregular pigmentation of the skin can be diminished by using AHAs. Results are better and more endurable when AHAs are used in conjunction with Vitamin A. Vitamin A normalizes melanocytes and therefore the production of melanin while AHAs act by chemical action on melanin in the keratinocytes.
4. Support the Skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factors and Help Skin Lock in Moisture
AHAs help increase the water retention properties of the skin, creating skin that is more supple, plump and wrinkle-free.
5. Reduce Clogged Pores and Breakouts
AHAs penetrate into pores where the build-up of dead cells is associated with acne conditions. The AHAs remove dead skin cells, thereby un-blocking and clearing the follicle.
6. Improve Penetration of Vitamins and Other Active Skincare Ingredients
When AHAs exfoliate dead and dying skin cells, it allows for better penetration of vitamins, antioxidants and other active skincare ingredients which is necessary for maintenance of healthy and beautiful looking skin.
If you are looking for a skincare regime that works for your skin or need recommendations on products with appropriate AHA formulations, contact us to book a complimentary skin assessment and consultation. By the way, one of our clinic favourites is Environ’s Tri Biobotanical Revival Mask. This product, nicknamed “Facelift in a Jar”, contains 3 powerful ingredients, including Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid and Asiatic Acid, that work in harmony to firm skin and refine the skin’s texture and tone.