What Is An Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)?

What Is An Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHA’s as you may more commonly know them, aren’t new at all, but they are fast becoming the”it” ingredients in town. The 2017 skincare forecast is looking like a who’s who of exciting and modern ingredients, and while AHA’s may not be that new, they sure have our attention.

Where do AHA’s come from?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are naturally occurring acids, derived from citrus fruits, milk and sugar. There are lots of various kinds, but the ones most commonly used in skincare products are Glycolic Acid, derived from sugar cane, and Lactic Acid, derived from sour milk. Not only do they work in synergy with our skin much better than other forms of AHA’s, but they are also gentler on our complexions.

Why are Alpha Hydroxy Acids good for our skin?

A lot of people see the word “acids” and are immediately put off about using them on their skin. AHA’s however, are actually incredibly effective chemical exfoliants, and can be much gentler on the skin than using a physically abrasive scrub. They slough away the dead cells sitting on top of your skin to prevent the signs of ageing and blemishes, so that your complexion has a beautiful and radiant glow.

By smoothing out the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, over time skin appears much healthier and more youthful looking; making AHA’s an important part of your skincare routine. They are also brilliant at reducing the effects of sun damage and spotting on the skin, where environment and UV rays have taken their toll. Incorporating these acids into your routine can vastly improve your skin’s health, and are brilliant if you suffer from sensitivity from using a physical and grain-based scrub.

We love Dermalogica’s Superfoliant, which is a Charcoal based Rice Powder infused with AHA’s to effectively dissolve away signs of pollution on the skin and leave you with a clearer and much healthier complexion.

What is the difference between Glycolic and Lactic Acids?

Glycolic Acid is undoubtedly the most potent and powerful of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids. This is in large part due to the size of its molecules. As these tend to be smaller, they are much more effective at penetrating deeper into the different layers of the skin and repairing serious signs of damage from the sun and environment. It can also help to stimulate collagen production, making it brilliant to use on ageing skin to help keep it looking youthful.

Due to its potency, Glycolic Acid is best applied at night, and always needs to be followed with an SPF the following day as it can make your skin sensitive to the sun, which can then cause further damage.

Lactic Acid is brilliant for those who suffer with skin sensitivity, redness and signs of inflammation, as it is a much more gentler form of Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Our bodies naturally produce Lactic Acid themselves, so anyone who suffers with a particular skin sensitivity will receive it better as their skin will be more receptive to it. It’a also incredibly hydrating, making it a brilliant ingredient to use for those with dry skin. It can be confusing to think of an exfoliant as a way of achieving a more moisturised complexion, but one of the causes of dry skin is actually dead cells blocking new cells from appearing, so once these have been sloughed away, your complexion will be much healthier.

Although Lactic Acid doesn’t cause the skin to thin, it’s still always advised to wear SPF throughout the day to give your skin the best possible protection.

Team LF

Team LF

Writer and expert