Friday, August 5, 2011

Apha Hydoxy Acid - AHA

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is the term used covering a broad range of water soluble, naturally occurring acids (fruit, milk) that are specifically incorporated into products to provide dynamic exfoliating benefits to the skin. AHAs work on the upper layer of the skin dislodging surface impurities, evening texture, smoothing the skin, attracting moisture, effectively reversing sun damage, and promoting cellular renewal. Quite a bag of tricks. The decomposition of dead skin residue also helps boost penetration of other beneficial ingredients.

AHAs may be a good bet if you have dull, 'ho-hum' skin that lacks that healthy glow, but a little caution will go a long way to finding the right product for your skin. Begin with a lower strength and increase slowly while your skin adjusts. This will mitigate any irritation your skin may have to the process, which usually results in redness, dryness and flaking skin. Not attractive.

In order to be sold to consumers, AHAs must have a concentration of less that 10%, although most 'over the counter' products contain 3%. There are five major types of AHAs in skin-care products - glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, and tartaric acids. It is now possible to get buffered glycolic acid products, which maintain a healthy concentration but increase the pH, therefore the exfoliation process takes place without the obvious physical signs of AHA-itis. BTW, fall and winter are the perfect seasons to introduce AHA into a skin care regime since AHAs tend to make the skin quite sensitive to sun exposure. If used during the spring and summer, sun protection is an absolute must.