Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha Hydroxy Acids and your skin

Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs are primarily used to exfoliate your skin. Exfoliation refers to a process where the skin cells on the surface are shed off. This helps remove dead skin cells and also encourages new skin cell generation.

Dead skin cell accumulation will also enhance other underlying skin issues, such as:

  • Wrinkles
  • Age spots
  • Acne

Types of Alpha Hydroxy Acids

There are seven types of AHAs commonly used in products and available throughout the skincare industry. These include:

  • Citric acid (from citrus fruits)
  • Glycolic acid (from sugar cane)
  • Hydroxycaproic acid (from royal jelly)
  • Hydroxycaprylic acid (from animals)
  • Lactic acid (from lactose or other carbohydrates)
  • Malic acid (from fruits)
  • Tartaric acid (from grapes)

What’s the difference between an AHA and Beta Hydroxy Acid?

Another commonly used acid on the skincare market is called beta-hydroxy acid (BHA).

There are multiple AHAs, whereas salicylic acid is the only BHA.

Like AHAs, salicylic acid helps to exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells. This can help clear blackheads and whiteheads by unclogging pores made from trapped dead skin cells and oil in the hair follicles.

AHAs are more appropriate for age-related skin concerns, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

BHAs might be best if you have sensitive, acne-prone skin.

If you have more than one skin concern, you can experiment with both AHAs and BHAs. Be sure to incorporate products gradually to reduce irritation.

AHAs are primarily used to exfoliate. They can also help:

Promoting collagen and blood flow

Alpha Hydroxy Acids may help promote collagen production by destroying old collagen fibres and making way for new ones.

AHAs have anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote blood flow to the skin. This can help correct pale, dull complexions. Increasing blood flow also ensures that skin cells get the necessary nutrients needed via oxygen-rich red blood cells.

Correct discolouration from scars and age spots

Risk of skin discolouration increases with age. Flat brown spots, known as age spots (lentigines), develop as a result of sun exposure. Usually on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun most often, such as your chest, hands, and face.

Discolouration may also result from:

  • Melasma
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Acne scars

AHAs promote skin cell turnover. New skin cells are evenly pigmented. Therefore in theory, long-term use of AHAs may reduce skin discolouration by encouraging the old, discoloured skin cells to turn over.

Improve appearance of surface lines and wrinkles

AHAs are known for their anti-aging effects, however, AHAs only work for surface lines and wrinkles only, not deeper wrinkles. Dermal filler is the only treatment that will work for deep wrinkles.

Prevent acne breakouts

Acne spots occur when pores get clogged with a combination of dead skin cells, oil (sebum), and bacteria.

Exfoliating with Alpha Hydroxy Acids can help loosen and remove the clog. Continued use may also prevent future spots from forming.

AHAs may also reduce the size of enlarged pores, which are commonly seen in acne-prone skin. Skin cell turnover from exfoliating glycolic and lactic acids can even reduce acne scars. Some acne products also contain other AHAs, such as citric and malic acids, to help soothe inflamed skin. You can use AHA products on your face and other acne-prone areas, including your back and chest.

Brighten your complexion

As we age, the natural skin cell cycle is slowing down, which will make dead skin cells build up. When we have too many dead skin cells, they can accumulate and make the complexion look dull.

AHA’s reveal the new skin beneath which will become brighter and more radiant.

Increase product absorption

Alpha Hydroxy Acids can make your existing products work better by increasing their absorption into the skin.

For example, if you have too many dead skin cells, your daily moisturiser will just sit on top without hydrating your new skin cells underneath. AHAs like glycolic acid can break through this layer of dead skin cells, enabling your moisturiser to hydrate your new skin cells more effectively.

Cautions with Alpha Hydroxy Acids

If you’ve never used AHAs before, you may experience minor side effects while your skin adjusts to the product.

Temporary side effects may include:

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Blisters
  • Dermatitis (eczema)

To reduce your risk of irritation start AHA products every other day. As your skin gets used to them, you can then start applying AHAs every day.

Use extra caution when going out in the sun. The peeling effects of highly-concentrated AHAs may make your skin more sensitive to UV You should wear sunscreen daily and reapply more frequently to prevent sunburn.

Do not use:

  • On Freshly shaved skin
  • On Cuts or burns
  • If you have Rosacea, Psoriasis or Eczema
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Products available in clinic

Flawlessceuticals Rejuvenate and Flawlessceuticals Glow

Formulated with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) to gently remove build-up of dead skin cells. It increases cell turnover to reveal a fresher, younger looking skin. it also helps to control microbial growth, breakouts and the appearance of pigmentation, fine lines & wrinkles.


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