Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) have for centuries have been used to promote a more youthful, fresh looking complexion by people in many civilisations History reveals that many ancient cultures knew of benefits of AHA’s. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra used Alpha Hydroxy Acids when she bathed in milk baths to soften her much admired skin! The women of the French Court of Louis XVI also used Alpha Hydroxy Acids when they rubbed wine on their skin to produce a softer, glowing complexion.
Rediscovered in the early 1970s as a treatment for ichthyosis patients (a rare skin disease where your skin resembles fish scales), its therapeutic benefits for making skin look and feel smoother were soon realised. Over the past decades these early ingredients have been refined to produce AHAs we use today for treating a variety of other skin conditions including
- Fine Lines
AHAs are a naturally occurring non-toxic acids found in food. For example,
Lactic Acid (Sour Milk)
Glycolic Acid (Sugar Cane)
Mandelic Acid (Almonds)
Malic Acid (Apples)
Citric Acid (Oranges/Lemons)
AHA’s work by loosening and dissolving the glue-like substance that binds skin cells together. The higher the percentage of AHA in a solution, the deeper through the skin’s levels the AHA’s will penetrate and the quicker the loosening of the skin cells will occur. This loosening process helps the skin cells to exfoliate the unwanted build-up of dead skin cells. Unlike mechanical exfoliation (scrubs), the skin is not damaged by abrasives or by the physical manipulation of the scrubbing process. Sensitive skin, in particular, cannot deal well with harsh scrubs and exfoliators. By ‘ungluing’ the skin at a much deeper level than cosmetic scrubs, they produce a deeper exfoliation process.
The AHA exfoliation process exposes fresher, newer skin cells giving the appearance of a fresher, more youthful-looking skin. In addition, removing the top layer of the skin (epidermis) greatly improves the texture and coloration of the skin, unclogs pores.
AHAs are “true moisturisers”. Studies have documented that glycolic and lactic acid helps produce natural collagen and elastin in the skin’s cells. This leads to the promotion of a proper moisture balance after the exfoliation process has occurred by improving the skin’s natural ability to bind moisture and to produce its own natural moisturising factors within the skin. Over processed skin can leave your lipid barrier comprised
The fact that AHAs work both superficially (on the surface) and on a cellular level (in the deeper layers, where the skin is growing) is what makes these little molecules so amazingly effective in the anti-ageing process!
Beta Hydroxy Acid is also known as Salicylic acid and due to its molecular size is very effective in the treatment of acne. It penetrates pores and reduces blackheads and whiteheads with less irritation than may occur with alpha-hydroxy acids. Like AHAs, salicylic acid also exfoliates the skin, which can reduce signs of ageing.
Both can be used in combination or as stand-alone ingredients. Their potential as an anti-ageing solution is further enhanced when used in combination with other actives, as their “ungluing” mechanism allows for better penetration of these actives.
So what’s the difference between AHAs and Scrubs?
Exfoliants work differently to mechanical scrubs and some scrubs can cause more harm than good. Hard beaded scrubs can be too harsh, causing micro-tears in your skin increasing inflammation and risk of damaging your skin. As AHAs and BHAs are liquid exfoliators you can also use a physical exfoliator.
These use micro-fine particles encapsulating active ingredient such as Vitamin C and Jojoba Oil. Rather than “scrubbing” the skin, they work to effectively remove surface residue and impurities while imparting absorbable pure Vitamin C to the skin epidermis to provide maximum benefits. Leaves the skin looking visibly refined, smooth, polished and more luminous in appearance.