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AHA Skincare: Basics for Beginners

AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are a group of animal and plant-derived acids used in various skincare products, including creams, toners, serums, and occasional concentrated treatments, i.e. chemical peel.

The 7 types of AHAs most commonly used in the skincare industry are:

§ malic acid –from fruits

§ citric acid –from citruses

§ glycolic acid –from sugar cane

§ lactic acid –from lactose or other carbohydrates

§ hydroxycaproic acid –from royal jelly

§ tartaric acid –from grapes

§ hydroxycaprylic acid –from animals

There's extensive study on the uses and efficiency of AHAs, but out of all the AHAs available, lactic and glycolic acids are the most promising and well-researched. These two components are also the least likely to cause irritation, hence, majority of OTC (over-the-counter) AHAs contain lactic or glycolic acids.

What AHAs do

1) Exfoliate. This is the primary use for AHAs.

2) Correct discoloration from age spots & scars.

As age increase so does the risk for discoloration. For instance, age spots (the flat, brown ones) develop as result of sun exposure; hence, they're more visible on your hands, chest, and face.

3) Promote blood flow.

Because AHAs have anti-inflammatory properties, they help boost blood flow to the skin which in turn helps correct dull, pale complexions. Proper blood flow also ensures that skin cells get necessary nutrients. AHAs stimulate skin cell turnover whereby new skin cells are evenly pigmented. Essentially, AHAs improve skin discoloration by encouraging old, discolored skin turnover.

4) Prevent acne breakouts.

AHAs help treat (and prevent) acne. Acne occurs when pores are clogged with oil (sebum), dead skin cells, and bacteria. Exfoliation by AHAs helps in loosening and removing the clog. Consistent use can prevent new clogs from forming.

5) Improve wrinkles & surface lines.

AHAs are popular for their anti-aging effects. A 2015 study revealed that 9 out of 10 users experienced significant improvement in overall skin texture over a three-week period. But, note that AHAs work only on surface lines and wrinkles, not the deep wrinkles.

6) Brighten complexion.

When AHAs exfoliate your skin, dead cells are broken down making new skin brighter, more visible, and radiant.

7) Increase product absorption.

On top all its distinct benefits, AHAs help your existing products work better by encouraging absorption into the skin. For instance, with too many dead skin cells your moisturizer just sits on the surface without hydrating new skin cells underneath. AHAs break through this layer of dead skin cells helping your moisturizer do its work better.

8) Promote collagen production.

Collagen is a protein-rich fiber helping the skin become plump and smooth. These fibers break down from sun damage and as you age –which result in sallow, sagging skin. AHAs help encourage collagen production by breaking up old collagen fiber and making way for new ones.

Possible side effects

If you haven't used AHAs before, your skin will adjust to the product and may show minor side effects. Temporary side effects can be:

  • itching

  • burning

  • dermatitis/eczema

  • blisters

Use AHA products every other day to reduce the occurrence of skin reactions.

Come and see us at Bespoke Clinic in Penrith for more information about AHAs and if they can help you.

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