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Incorporating AHAs into Your Skin Care

Aug 19, 2022

Skin Care

When reading the ingredient list on any new skin care product, they can seem daunting or mysterious. Anything with the word ‘acid’ in it might make you run the other way or seem too harsh. The trick is educating ourselves on possible skin care ingredients and what they do. For example, ingredients like ‘Salicylic Acid’ or ‘Glycolic Acid’ are widely used and have an abundance of benefits that make them so beloved. Glycolic Acid is an AHA that is notorious for its skin care strengths. Keep reading to learn more.

What are Alpha-Hydroxy Acids?

There are three main groups of exfoliating acids: Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (otherwise known as AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), and Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA). For starters, AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits that help exfoliate the surface of your skin. They’re ideal for evening out skin pigmentation irregularities and assist in the natural production of collagen.

Common types of AHAs

AHAs can come in a number of different forms, one of which we mentioned earlier in Glycolic Acid. Some of the most common types you might run into include:

  • Glycolic Acid: Out of all the AHAs, Glycolic Acid has the best track record of impressive skin care results. It has the ability to penetrate the uppermost layers of built-up skin, while simultaneously hydrating the skin. In fact, Glycolic Acid is considered a natural humectant, which basically means it helps your skin absorb and draw in more moisture. Additionally, Glycolic Acid can help the skin with firmness and sun damage.
  • Lactic Acid: Lactic Acid provides similar benefits as Glycolic Acid, it just moves at a slower pace because the molecule is a bit larger. It both hydrates and exfoliates skin, providing a more even complexion.
  • Malic Acid: Found in Apples or synthetically, Malic Acid is a larger molecule than both Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid, but it still exfoliates and offers antioxidant benefits. It’s an ideal supporting acid when used in conjunction with Glycolic and Lactic Acids.
  • Tartaric Acid: Tartaric Acid is larger than Malic Acid (making it about twice the size of Glycolic Acid) and derives from Grapes but is also made synthetically. Its main benefit is that it helps maintain the pH range that other AHAs need in order to be as effective as possible.
  • Citric acid: Citric Acid is considered to be more irritating than the other AHAs because of its naturally lower pH of 2.2. This acid exfoliates skin, works as an antioxidant, and can work well as a pH adjuster.
AHAs vs. BHAs

As previously mentioned, another group of exfoliating acids are Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). While AHAs are water-soluble acids, BHAs are oil-soluble. They can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. Both groups of acids have a multitude of exfoliating benefits, but they differ in which types of benefits they offer. AHAs are often used by all skin types while BHAs are recommended for use in combination with oily skin because they’re primarily used for acne and sun damage.

Benefits of AHAs

AHAs have become a staple in the skin care game, mainly because of how wide-spread the benefits are. Exfoliation is one of the most important rituals you can do for your skin, and AHAs have found a way to do that gently, while offering a number of other perks.

Gently exfoliates

Exfoliation is an imperative step in your skin care routine because it helps keep the skin healthy. Using a physical exfoliant can be too harsh or damaging to the skin, which is what we want to avoid. AHAs use chemical exfoliation where the acid dissolves the attachments between skin cells, causing cell turnover and helping to even out skin tone without abrasiveness.

Boosts collagen & blood flow

AHAs help promote collagen production by destroying old collagen fibers to make way for new ones. Reason being, the collagen sits at the middle layer of your skin, so when the AHAs remove the upper layer, they can get to work at improving the middle layer (aka. the collagen). They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote blood flow to the skin, ensuring that skin cells get the necessary nutrients needed.

Evens skin tone

AHAs encourage cellular turnover, which means that dark spots and hyperpigmentation caused by aging, sun damage, acne scars, age spots, or melasma will fade faster. As the more pigmented skin cells get sloughed away, a more even-toned skin texture will appear in its place.

Fights acne breakouts

While BHAs might be better at treating acne, AHAs are great at preventing breakouts. Pores usually get clogged because dead skin cells prevent them from breathing properly. If you can keep the build-up at bay, it’ll reduce the risk of breakouts.

Brightens complexion

Typically, dull skin is a result of dead skin cell build-up. Since AHAs exfoliate that layer of dead skin, the new skin revealed underneath will be more radiant.

Help other products absorb more effectively

If you have a layer of dead skin cells sitting on your face, your products will just sit on top of them without penetrating your skin. Once AHAs exfoliate that layer, your other skin care products will be able to sink in more effectively.

What skin types are AHAs best for?

While AHAs are suited for all skin types, those with sensitive or dry skin may benefit the most. Physical exfoliants can be too harsh on the skin, so AHAs and their chemical exfoliation are a great option for people who want a gentler product.

Potential side effects of AHAs

That being said, there are some side effects to be aware of (as with most ingredients). Temporary side effects may include burning, itching, blisters, or dermatitis, so we always recommend patch testing any AHA product before incorporating it into your routine.

Best ingredients to get AHAs

There are a multitude of natural ingredients that you can look for that contain high levels of AHAs. Ingredients that contain the most bang for your buck include:

  • Tamarind Seeds: Tamarind pulp contains Tartaric Acid, making it a great pH balancer and gentle exfoliant.
  • Apples: Malic Acid is found in apples, meaning they are loaded with antioxidant benefits.
  • Grapes: Tartaric Acid is the main acid naturally found in grapes. In fact, together with malic acid, it contributes 90% of the acidity in wine.
  • Citrus Fruits: Citric Acid is found in citrus fruits, which is the “weakest” of the AHA acids.
  • Sugar Cane: Glycolic Acid is found in sugar cane — the most notable AHA in skin care.
  • Milk: Lactic Acid naturally occurs during fermentation, which is why it’s found in milk.
  • Witch Hazel: Gallic Acid is found in Witch Hazel, which provides the astringent property of this ingredient.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile contains Salicylic Acid, which is known to benefit acne-prone skin.

Add AHAs to your skin care today

As you can see, AHAs add a lot to your skin care routine. Whether you’re looking to get a more even skin tone, prevent acne, or delay premature aging, AHAs are the answer to your skin care prayers. If you’re looking to incorporate AHAs into your routine, check out our Moisturizing Hydra-Cream, which contains natural, mild AHA's like tamarind seeds. Our Balance Restoring Serum is also infused with gentle yet effective AHA's such as Witch Hazel and Chamomile that help improve your skin texture without stripping away your natural moisture barrier.



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