What are AHAs? They are a type of hydroxy acids, which are water-soluble. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, to be precise. Their purpose is to exfoliate the skin, and they are popular in a variety of cleansers, scrubs, toners, peels and masks. Their benefits include a more even skin tone as they remove dead skin cells, and provide an improvement in overall texture and tone. You can also expect a decrease in pore size and and less visible fine lines and wrinkles. These are particularly sought after for their anti-aging benefits. No wonder they are popular!
However, irritation can occur, so be mindful of the concentration you are using. A higher concentration is not necessarily better. Start out with a lower concentration (below 10%) and by using these every other day, until your skin gets used to them. Because exfoliating the skin makes it more prone to sun damage, take this into consideration by using a good sun screen or staying out of the sun after treatment.
Here is the list of active ingredients to search for (with our API and soon on the Cosmethics app), when seeking AHA exfoliants:
- Glycolic acid, derived from sugar cane. It is the most common AHA and its benefits also include antimicrobial properties.
- Lactic acid, derived from lactose in milk. Its benefits also include anti-aging effects.
- Tartaric acid, derived from grape extracts. May alleviate appearance of acne and sun damage.
- Citric acid, derived from citrus fruit extracts. Can even out rough skin patches and adjust pH levels.
- Malic acid (a type of AHA-BHA crossover), derived from apple acids. Less efficient alone, and usually used together with other acids to render efficacy.
- Mandelic acid, derived from almond extracts. Benefits include smaller pore size and better texture.