What are alpha hydroxy acids?
I’m sure some of you, especially those who have a keen interest in beauty products, have heard of alpha hydroxy acids. But do you know exactly what they are?
Well, allow me to explain!
Some people are often alarmed to hear that AHAs are widely used in the formulation of beauty products, because they immediately think of strong industrial chemicals such as sulphuric acid! They couldn’t be further from the truth! Alpha hydroxy acids, often referred to as AHAs, are in fact a class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in foods such as milk, fruits and sugar cane. The most common of AHA’s are as follows:
- Glycolic Acid- derived from sugar cane
- Lactic Acid- derived mainly from sour milk
- Citric Acid- derived from citrus fruit
*AHAs may be derived from their naturals sources or alternatively they may be synthetically made.
Why Choose Beauty Products That Contain AHAs?
- They function as pH adjusters; not too low or high pH meaning they won’t irritate your skin and cause further damage, if properly administered
- They act as humectants, drawing moisture to the skin, thus sealing it in and keeping your skin moisturised
- They’re very good exfoliants; they slough away dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and in the process encourage rapid cell turnover
- They soften skin and tackle uneven skin tone, giving way to more uniform and glowing skin
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- They are very good for problem skin, and regular use will help keep zits at bay by unclogging your pores
- Support collagen production and may even help in speeding up collagen production, which in turn will slow down the formation of wrinkles while strengthening your skin
Bear In Mind
Not all AHAs are created equal! You’re best off sticking with naturally derived versions, as opposed to synthetically made ones. Ensure you read the packaging thoroughly and ask questions where you don’t understand.
Synthetically made AHAs can be too harsh on sensitive skin types, and may cause problems for all skin types.
As good as AHAs are, they make your skin sensitive to UV rays. So if you do use them, limit exposure to the sun, and make sure you always use high SPF sunscreen; SPF 30 and above should be fine. Some AHAs will contain small amounts of sunscreen, so I’d urge you to use a separate sunscreen on top just to be safe!