What are AHAs and how can they help improve oily, problem skin?

AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids are naturally occurring substances found in various fruits, sugar cane and milk. And for years, skincare product consumers have reported that this ingredient helps keep skin imperfections at bay, and much recent scientific research[1] has backed up this theory too.

Glycolic and lactic acids fall within the AHAs most often used in many skincare formulations. For oily skins prone to imperfections, AHAs are especially useful when included in cleansers and exfoliators because they loosen the upper layers of dead skin cells. Being far less abrasive than many other exfoliating ingredients, your skin won’t become irritated and breakout in protest! Gently removing excess build-up from the skin’s surface means that pores may be unclogged and that newer, healthier-looking skin is able to emerge, thus allowing easier absorption of moisturisers and skin treatments.

What do skin experts say?

The effectiveness of AHAs for many skin problems including blemishes is a well-established notion. For instance, AHA chemical peels performed in trials by Dr Atzori[3], published in the European Journal of Dermatology back in 1999 showed significant improvement in the reduction of skin inflammation and blemishes. More recent studies have produced similar findings, including one led by Dr Glaser[2], dermatology professor at the St Louis University School of Medicine.

According to the Cosmetic Dermatology journal, AHAs should never be used in excess. They work best at concentrations of between 5 and 10 %. This respects the skin’s pH balance more effectively, important to bear in mind when reading product labels. 

Tips for best use

While a specialist treatment product containing AHAs can be extremely effective in reducing the early development of a spot, continuous frequent use of AHAs can, however, make your skin more vulnerable to UV damage. Most dermatologists agree that the best strategy is to gradually incorporate them into your regime by using them every other or every third day, and to always use a moisturiser an SPF 30 that’s tailored to your skin type. Plus, if you are already on medication for a skin condition, consult your doctor to ensure that AHAs are compatible with this treatment.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277239/
[2] https://marinarodriguezdermatologia.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/glicolico-en-acne.pdf
[3] http://www.skininc.com/skinscience/ingredients/15584252.html



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