Alpha Hydroxy Acid has been a buzzword in the cosmetic industry for a long time now. Recently, however, it occurred to me that not many people actually know what AHA’s actually are, what their purpose is and whether they are worth including in your skincare routine. So here is your guide to AHA’s...
First off, what exactly are AHA’s?
According to cosmeticinfo.com...
Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA's) are a class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. Although they are called acids they are not to be confused with strong industrial acids such as hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. The AHA's most commonly used in cosmetic products are glycolic acid (which is derived from sugar cane) and lactic acid (the substance that gives you muscle burn when you exercise). Other AHA's used include citric acid (from oranges, lemons, etc.), 2-hydroxyoctanoic acid, and 2-hydroxydecanoic acid. The AHA’s may be obtained from their natural sources or may be made synthetically.
Why do cosmetic companies choose to use AHA’s in their products?
Their main function is to cleanse and exfoliate the skin. There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Mechanical is where you use a product with small grains in it so the use of AHA's on the skin falls into the chemical exfoliation category. AHA's act on the surface of the skin by removing dead surface cells, thereby improving the appearance of the skin. AHA's loosen the glue-like substances that hold the surface skin cells to each other, therefore allowing the dead skin to peel off. The skin underneath has a fresher, healthier look with a more even colour and texture.
If AHA’s are naturally occurring can’t I just rub an orange on my face?
Yes, you don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive skincare products to experience the full effect of AHA's. Here are just a few suggestions for you to try yourself at home.
TOMATOES: tomatoes contain lots of lactic acid which, is one of the more milder AHA’s. Simply cut a tomato in half then rub over your face. To make it a double whammy exfoliator dip your half of tomato in some fine sugar and rub it gently in circles on your skin.
STRAWBERRIES: This is my favourite to use as it smells so lovely! Straberries contain sacylic acid (which you can often find in the ingredients list in acne treatments). Again, simply cut a strawberry in half and rub all over your face. You can use the sugar with this too!
LEMONS: Lovely lemons are a souce of citric acid but personally, I wouldn’t go rubbing a lemon on your face. Instead try squeezing a few drops into a carrier oil (olive, almond, jojoba etc) then mixing together and applying to the face for 20 minutes.
Anything else I need to know?
Products that contain AHAs often have sunscreen in them too. This is because the acid can have a temporary lighting effect on the skin so if you do use AHA’s sunscreen is absolutely essential.
So there you have it, the truth behind AHA’s. Yes they are beneficial to the skin but you can get all the benefits simply by using everyday items found in your home!
Akwa Beauty & Wellness