The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Behind the Ingredients!



Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are a category of compounds, either natural or synthetic, that share a similar chemical make-up. Some of the most well-known AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid. In higher concentrations they are used as mild or superficial chemical peels. In lower concentrations, glycolic and other AHAs show up in many everyday cosmetics.

AHAs in skincare serve a similar purpose to those in chemical peels – to hasten epidermal turnover (“exfoliate”) and assist with issues like hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Although less traumatic than a chemical peel, these cosmetic products still result in inflammation.

The skin reacts to different AHAs differently, so it’s hard to make a blanket recommendation about whether to use them or not.

For example, glycolic acid is not meant to be in or around the skin, so there is no point to using it unless the point is to force exfoliation by damaging the epidermis.

Lactic acid is a different story….. It is a natural moisturizing factor and is reported to have antioxidant properties. Therefore, lactic acid can actually benefit the skin. Indeed, there is some benefit from using lactic acid on the skin, but only in moderation (less than 5% in a formula).

Mandelc acid can also help control bacteria if used in moderation. The key is not having a product that damages the skin’s natural lipid barrier, and these two AHAs used in low concentrations can achieve that.

Key Takeaways:
Unfortunately, most products use AHAs at levels designed to exfoliate and traumatize, because of the plumping (swelling) that results. I advise against using these products on a daily basis and especially not at concentrations above 3-5%, because at higher concentrations, AHAs burn the epidermis. And doing that will NOT rejuvenate your skin, in fact your skin will age faster because the collagen needed to fix the burn in the epidermis could have been used to maintain of rebuild your supply of dermal collagen.

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