AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid)
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of plant and animal-derived acids used in a variety of skincare products. These include daily anti-aging products, such as serums, toners, and creams, as well as occasional concentrated treatments via chemical peels.
There are seven types of AHAs commonly used in products available throughout the skincare industry. These include:
Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is the most common type of AHA. It’s also made from a widely available plant: sugar cane.
Glycolic acid provides significant exfoliation. This makes it an all-around treatment for many skin concerns. And its antimicrobial properties, it may even help prevent acne breakouts.
Lactic acid: Lactic acid is another common AHA. Unlike other AHAs made from fruits, lactic acid is made from lactose in milk, vegan sources, like fermented corn starch, beets, and other sugar-rich foods.. It’s also known for its significant exfoliation and anti-aging effects.
Tartaric acid: It’s made from grape extracts, and may help alleviate signs of sun damage and acne.
Citric acid: citric acid is made from citrus fruit extracts. Its main purpose is to neutralize the skin’s pH levels and to even out rough patches of skin. Citric acid makes a good serum or toner used before applying a moisturizer. It may even help work with sunscreen to provide maximum UV protection.
Malic acid: Malic acid is a type of AHA-BHA crossover. It’s made from apple acids. Malic acid can help remove the buildup of dead skin cells. This is helpful for acne-prone skin
AHAs can also help
- Promote collagen and blood flow: Collagen is a protein-rich fiber that helps keep your skin plump and smooth. Sun damage may also accelerate collagen destruction. This can result in sallow, sagging skin. Collagen itself is in the middle layer of your skin (dermis). When the upper layer (epidermis) is removed, products such as AHAs can go to work on the dermis. AHAs may help promote collagen production by destroying old collagen fibers to make way for new ones.
- Correct discoloration from scars and age spots: AHAs promote skin cell turnover. New skin cells are evenly pigmented. long-term use of AHAs may reduce skin discoloration by encouraging the old, discolored skin cells to turn over.
- Improve appearance of surface lines and wrinkles: AHAs are known for their anti-aging effects, and surface lines are no exception.
- Prevent acne breakouts: Exfoliating with AHAs can help loosen and remove the clog. Continued use may also prevent future clogs from forming. Skin cell turnover from exfoliating glycolic and lactic acids can even reduce acne scars. Some acne products also contain other AHAs, such as citric and malic acids, to help soothe inflamed skin.
- Brighten your complexion: When these acids exfoliate your skin, dead skin cells are broken down. The new skin revealed beneath is brighter and more radiant. AHAs with glycolic acid can help break down skin cell accumulation, while products with citric acid can brighten your skin even further.
- Increase product absorption.
BHA (beta hydroxy acid)
- BHAs are primarily used for acne and sun damage.
- These products go deep into skin to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells to unclog your pores. Because of these effects, BHAs are most suitable for combination to oily skin.
- BHA seems to be more effective for treating skin conditions like acne because of its antibacterial properties.
- Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. Concentrations can range between 0.5 and 5 percent, depending on the product at hand. It’s well-known as an acne treatment, but it can also help calm down general redness and inflammation.
- Citric acid: While primarily classified as an AHA, some formulations of citric acid are BHAs, too. Rather than even out your skin’s pH levels, this type of citric acid is primarily used to dry out excess sebum and clean out dead skin cells deep in your pores.
AHA and BHA both can:
- Decrease inflammation, a key marker of acne, rosacea, and other skin concerns
- Decrease the appearance of large pores and surface wrinkles
- Even out your skin tone
- Improve overall skin texture
- Remove dead skin cells
- Unclog pores to prevent acne