What You Need to Know About AHA's
In a perfect world, you could walk up to the fountain of youth, splash some of the cool water on your face, and instantly turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, this magical fountain doesn’t really exist, leaving many of us wandering around, looking for the secret of fresher, smoother and younger looking skin.
The beauty industry likes to take full advantage of this quest for youth, often putting out products filled with junk chemicals, claiming that within a week our skin will be restored to a glowing version of its younger self. If only.
Today, our knowledge of skin care is expansive. We have access to an endless array of skin care lines and miracle sounding ingredients, yet so much of it falls short of our expectations. If you feel like you’ve tried it all and nothing is going to work, it isn’t because the right product isn’t out there. It’s more likely that you’ve been blinded by the flashy claims of fancy ingredients and have just overlooked the familiar, simple and perfect skin care solution that has been in front of you the whole time – alpha hydroxy acids.
What Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) sound like something you would encounter in chemistry class. In reality, they’re natural compounds that occur in slightly acid foods like fruits, milk and some forms of sugar. AHAs can be produced synthetically in a lab, however, OZNaturals always uses natural sources.
As evident in their name, AHAs are an acid rather than a base. Due to their molecular structure, their primarily mechanism in skin care is exfoliation. By sloughing off the very uppermost layers of skin, fresh and healthy new skin is revealed.
I know what you’re thinking. The changes enforced by the hands of time are more than a layer of skin deep, so how exactly do AHAs make good on their claim of youthful, rejuvenated skin? Let’s take a look.
How Do AHAs Work?
Alpha hydroxy acids are powerful exfoliators. They get in there and unglue all those pesky dull, dead skin cells from the surface. Exfoliation is an important part of routine care for maturing skin because dead skin cells, along with oils and environmental toxins, can settle into all those fine lines, basically exaggerating their appearance. When these surface skin cells are removed, your skin instantly looks fresher, more vibrant, and those fine lines aren’t nearly as noticeable.
The exciting news is that these initial changes are noticeable pretty much instantly, but the benefits accrue over time. The first time you use a product containing alpha hydroxy acids, you’re greeted with a smoother looking, brighter complexion. This is reason enough to add a little AHA love into your life, but it’s good to know that they benefit the long-term health of your skin as well.
AHAs can work below the surface and deliver equally impressive results in the deeper layers of skin. Concentration is key here, but AHA skin care products that contain even marginally higher concentrations, function to support elastin and collagen production – which both tend to decrease as we age.
AHAs are also great for lightening skin discolorations and evening out skin tone while suppressing melanin. Translation? Say goodbye to age spots!
Alpha hydroxy acids are generally safe and well tolerated by most people. That said there are a few precautions to keep in mind. First, because AHAs interfere with melanin production, using them can result in photosensitivity. If you’re planning on spending some time outside and soaking up those glorious rays of sunshine, make sure you always apply a toxin-free sunscreen first.
Additionally, it’s smart to start gradually introduce your skin to AHAs to assess your sensitivity. Most people don’t have a problem, but the exfoliant action can cause a little sensitivity in some people. Also, there are AHA products that are formulated for everyday use, (like our Ocean Mineral Toning Mist and Vitamin C + AHA Facial Serum) but don’t overdo it with products that are designed to be used occasionally – for example, a twice-monthly peel such as our Glycolic 30% Micro Peel.
The Benefits of AHAs for Skin Care
Honestly, what you’ve read here should be enough of a selling point for these glorious little wonders of nature. Yes, AHAs are great for keeping your skin young and healthy looking, but there are a few other perks as well.
- Using a product with AHAs exfoliates without spending time on special peel or facial.
- There’s an AHA product that’s suitable for practically everyone – regardless of age or level of skin damage.
- There are various types of AHAs, allowing you to customize your skin care routine.
- AHAs can help treat acne that’s caused by a buildup of oils and dead skin cells in the pores.
- Adding alpha hydroxy acids to your skin care routine can increase the effectiveness of your other skin care products.
- Alpha hydroxy acid is great to use on the delicate neck area, which is one of the places that the first signs of aging can creep in.
Types of Alpha Hydroxy Acids
When we talk about alpha hydroxy acids, we’re actually referring to a group of acids. You shouldn’t confuse AHAs with beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), which are similar but rather than being water soluble like AHAs, beta hydroxy acids are oil soluble. This is a characteristic that makes them more well suited for, and effective on, oily skin.
There are several different types of alpha hydroxy acids. Here are the important ones to take note of.
Glycolic Acid: This AHA is naturally occurring in cane sugar and has earned a spot as being the gold standard of AHAs. Because of its small molecular size, glycolic acid is able to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin – making it perfect for mature skin that would benefit from a boost in collagen production. Glycolic acid is also great for maintaining proper hydration within the skin cells. OZNaturals uses glycolic acid as the source of AHA in our Ocean Mineral Toning Mist, Vitamin C + AHA Facial Serum and Glycolic 30% Micro Peel.
Lactic Acid: Lactic acid comes from a variety of sources but is most commonly found in milk – something you might have already picked up on by connecting lactic acid with lactose. If you’ve ever heard of someone using milk as part of their skin care routine for a youthful glow, it’s the lactic acid that’s responsible for the results. Lactic acid exfoliates but also creates a barrier in the upper layers of skin that helps to maintain moisture levels and keep environmental toxins out. OZNaturals uses vegan lactic acid in our Bamboo Enzyme Facial Scrub.
Mandelic Acid: While glycolic and lactic acid are pretty well known, mandelic acid is one of the lesser known AHAs. Mandelic acid can be found naturally in wild cherry and bitter almond. Being a much larger molecule than glycolic acid, mandelic acid works primarily on the skin’s surface. It helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines, soothe irritated skin and lighten skin discolorations.
Getting Acquainted with Alpha Hydroxy Acids
You should love what you see when you look in the mirror. Mature skin is beautiful skin but adding a little alpha hydroxy acid to your skin care routine can add freshness and a glow of renewed youthfulness to your complexion. You want to look and feel your best and skin care products that tap into the natural wonders of AHAs are a great way to boost the inherent beauty of your skin. There’s an AHA product out there for everyone, and gorgeously glowing skin is within your reach today.