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The researched effects of AHAs

July 17, 2013 (Wed)  |  By Administrator  |  In Research
Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs – have been known since Antiquity and they are familiar to those seeking youthful looking skin. Legend has it that Cleopatra bathed in sour milk and Marie Antoinette in champagne, sources of lactic and tartaric acid. The most common AHAs there are:Glycolic acid – from sugar cane

Lactic acid – from fermented milk
Citric acid – from oranges, grapefruits, lemons and other citrus fruits
Tartaric acid – from fermented grapes
Pyruvic acid – derived from bananas and other fruits
Malic acid – from unripened apples
Mandalic acid – from bitter almonds

Glycolic and lactic acids are the most common in the skin care industry. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular size from all of the other AHAs and the greatest bioavailability, meaning that it has the ability to penetrate the skinmost easily. AHAs are commonly used in low concentrations in cleansers, moisturizers, and toners and in higher concentrations in light peel solutions (serum, booster, or masque) and chemical peels. AHAs work by exfoliating the skin – causing the surface skin cells to slough off, revealing a newer and healthier skin. Other researched benefits of AHAs include:

Skin exfoliation. In low concentrations like 5% – 10% glycolic acid exfoliates the top outermost layer of the skin resulting in a smoother texture and an even skin tone.

Has a whitening effect. Although original studies indicate that AHAs in a concentration as low as 4% to 15% won’t inhibit the production of melanin, reaserch has shown that lactic and glycolic acids can inhibit melanin production apart from their exfoliating action on the skin.

Improves aging signs in photo-aged skin. A study showed the effects of AHA on photoaging skin; it caused a 25% increase in skin thickness for patients who applied a lotion containing 25% glycolic, lactic or citric acid during 6 months.

Used as a peeling, treats acne and melasma. Another opinion states that, applied for a short period of 3-8 minutes in higher concentrations like 50% – 70 %, it can treat acne or photo-aged skin (mottled dyspigmentation, melasma or fine wrinkles) however, multiple treatments are required.

But because not everything in life is pink, users should be aware of its side effects. AHAs may cause irritation, burning, stinging, redness, even blisters (mostly from peels) to sensitive skin and it can increase the skin’s photo-sensitivity to sun.