What are AHAs

A skin care expert I am not but I am determined to learn more about skin, and exactly what I am putting on it. I am sure others feel the same, out of such idea I have decided to debunk skin care and certain ingredients to the best of my ability. A range of posts in which hopefully we can come together and learn, lean on one and other as a community and take the mystery out of skin care. I was recently briefed in AHAs, also know as Alpha Hydroxy Acids which have become quite a common method of exfoliation over the years.

Despite the somewhat clinical name Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are a group of natural acids found within certain foods, the most common are: citric acid (derives from citrus fruits), glycolic acid (found within sugar cane), lactic acid (sour milk oddly ), malic acid ( comes from apples) and tartaric acid (found in grapes). In skin care AHAs are used as a form of exfoliation, instead of relying on grains or beads to slough off dry and dead skin they work by chemically removing the top layers of dead skin cells by dissolving them; with continued use they can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting overall skin firmness.

The pros of AHA's:

- As with most exfoliation methods the main aim is to remove dead and dry skin with this group of acids do gently. no need to physically scrub the skin. If heavy handed like myself manual scrubs can be tricky as I tend to overdo it and end up with red, raw skin.
- With continued use you can expect softer and smoother skin, products will absorb more efficiently and make-up will look better.
- AHA's can reduce visible signs of hyper-pigmentation such as acne scarring, sun damage and general skin discolouration.
- They can also help to remove blackheads and in the case of men can help prevent ingrown hairs on the face.
- With continued use the skin can appear firmer, brightened and wrinkles/fine lines less visible.
- Widely accepted as safe and found in numerous skin care products - from budget friendly to high end formulations.

The cons of AHA's:

- The can cause photosensitivity which is a sensitivity to the sun, if you do not adequately protect your skin while using (and after for at least a week) this can result in sun damage such as sun spots. When using AHA's always protect the skin with an SPF 15 or greater.
- Along with photosensitivity general skin irritations may occur such as redness, swelling and itching. If this continues discontinue use.
- They only lightly exfoliate the skin, AHA's won't unclog pores (pore size will not appear smaller).
- Can irritate acne prone skin and may not be the best choice for teenage skin.

What are AHAs?

AHA based products you may be familiar with:

Pixi Glow Tonic - very gentle and soothing, as well as brightening the skin.
Alpha H Liquid Gold - a cult favourite, I have a bottle but have yet to try.
REN Radiance Renewal Range - The mask is a personal favourite.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads - Budget friendly, quick and easy to use.

Over to you, do you have any recommendations or advice in regards to AHAs?