Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are natural acids derived from fruits such as oranges and lemons. In facial skincare products, the acids are often listed as sugar cane extract, glycolic acid, malic acid, triple fruit acid or lactic acid. For the best results, use a product with concentrated AHA levels of 10 percent or less. Because the acids make your skin more susceptible to the sun, wear a sunscreen whenever you use AHA-boosted creams or serums.
Exfoliation Clears the Way
Alpha hydroxy acids act as chemical exfoliants, which help to loosen and get rid of the dead skin cells on your skin's surface. The acids are more effective than abrasive exfoliants, such as scrubs and cloths, according to the Harvard Medical School. Regular exfoliation helps keep your complexion naturally bright by preventing a buildup of dead skin cells that dull your skin.
Skin Lightening Effects
Sun damage, scars and other health problems can lead to hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration on your face. Although a cosmetic concealer can camouflage the discolorations, it doesn't correct your actual skin tone. Alpha hydroxy acids can help to "inhibit melanin formation" and remove discolorations that leave your skin tone dark, Paula Begoun says in her book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me."
Surface debris and dead skin inhibits your skin's ability to absorb the active ingredients in your skincare creams and serums. Alpha hydroxy acids remove these surface deposits to expose the underlying cells. The can optimize your skin's absorption levels so you get the maximum results from your favorite skincare products.
Alpha hydroxy acids can reduce the severity of surface lines and wrinkles in a few ways, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The acids take off the top, damaged layer of skin, revealing less-damaged skin beneath and allowing for the regrowth of skin cells. The acids also may enhance your body's production of collagen, the protein that plumps and firms the skin surface.
- Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me; Paula Begoun
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.