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A Guide to AHAs

A Guide to AHAs

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are a class of skin care ingredients that are extremely beneficial for many skin care applications. AHAs are derived from different foods such as oranges, sugar or almonds and used in skin cleansers, serums and chemical peels. AHAs are different in their effects on the skin and can be used to achieve various skin care goals. In general, AHAs help to remove dead surface skin to improve the skin's appearance. Some AHAs help to clear clogged pores, while others fight the signs of aging.

Main Types of AHAs

Glycolic acid comes from raw sugar and is water soluble. Glycolic acid penetrates into deeper layers of the skin, weakening the bond between dead skin cells and the new skin underneath. Glycolic acid can make skin noticeably smoother, but is a stronger AHA because its molecules are smaller, which makes it too harsh for sensitive skin.

Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits and works well in chemical peels. It is considered an extremely active AHA because of the high level of antioxidants it contains.

Lactic acid is extracted from milk and is the least reactive AHA. It can be effective for sensitive skin and its disinfectant properties make it a good active ingredient for acne cleansers.

Mandelic acid is derived from almonds and is a gentle but effective AHA due to its larger carbon chain. Those with sensitive skin can use mandelic acid to fight signs of aging like wrinkles, as well as reduce redness and the appearance of acne scarring. Mandelic acid also helps to treat hyperpigmentation.

How AHAs Should Be Used

Side effects of AHAs can include redness and stinging with initial use. AHAs come in various concentrations, from mild cleansers to highly concentrated chemical peels that need to be administered by skin care professionals. Other than peels, it is best to start with a lower concentration and work up to stronger products as the skin acclimates.

Users may want to start using a new AHA every other day for the first week or two and then increase usage to daily. If irritation does occur, stop using the product until skin heals. Persistent irritation may mean that a gentler AHA should be used.

AHA users also need to be careful to use sun protection and even avoid direct sunlight if their skin is red or irritated. Because AHAs remove dead skin, the skin underneath is more sensitive to sun exposure and can sunburn or damage easily. Sunscreen and protective clothing help prevent sun damage while AHAs are being used.

Most users, even those with sensitive skin, will adjust to at least some AHAs and will benefit from their use. After a few months, users should notice that scarring and dark spots have begun to fade. Wrinkles and lines should diminish, and blocked pores will decrease.

Vivant Skin Care has many corrective AHA products with glycolic acid and mandelic acid to assist your clients in their skin care needs. Some AHA products work well for all skin types and colors, including darker skin types. Check our 20% Glycolic Acid and 30% Mandelic Acid peels which are only available to skin care professionals like you! 


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