What Acid Is For You Part 2: Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Hey, Evening Residents!
Today, I’ve got the second installment in my Acids series.

In my last post, I covered Beta-Hydroxy Acids and the skin type that it's best for. I also briefly mentioned Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, aka AHAs which I'll be going into depth in this post! They all have their own benefits for particular skin types, so keep reading to know how to pick the right one for you.
So, what is an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid?
There are three Alpha-Hydroxy Acids used in skin care - Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Mandelic Acid. Their unique property over BHAs is the fact that they're water soluble (water cannot penetrate that deep into skin unlike oil), making them far less drying than BHAs.

Their exfoliating mechanisms help to encourage cell turnover for glowing and healthy skin. Because they’re water soluble, rather than oil soluble, they’re not as effective as dissolving excess oils and sebum beneath skin surface like BHAs but they take action on the surface of your skin instead.

However, continued use over time does help to improve skin texture through encouraging skin cell regeneration. They also support your skin's own natural moisturising factors, known as NMF. High levels of NMF help the skin to naturally stay beautifully moisturised and hydrated. Who wouldn’t want that?!
What distinguishes each of these wonderful acids from one another is their molecular weight (think size) - this has a pretty significant effect on the 'strength' of each one.

A smaller molecule is able to penetrate further into the skin, however just like with a higher percentage, this isn't always better.

More sensitive skins would benefit from a less intense acid that can still provide benefits of exfoliation, but are less irritating. Like with BHAs, using an AHA improperly can lead to over-exfoliation of the skin, leading to redness, sensitivity, and irritation.
Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular weight and therefore quickly penetrates into the skin. It’s one of the most popular AHAs out there, along with lactic acid - bringing us to the second smallest acid, lactic acid, which is actually naturally found in yogurt (which can be a great natural face mask, in a pinch!)

The most gentle of the three is mandelic acid. It's a great, gentle option for those just starting to use AHAs as it's larger molecular weight means it doesn’t penetrate as easily as it’s smaller cousins, making it less likely for skin to get irritated.
Which skin type is AHA Best for?
AHAs are suitable for ALL skin types because of the multitude of skin issues that they can address without the intensity. Drier skin types especially!

Mature skin benefits from AHA's ability to exfoliate and stimulate collagen production.

Sensitive skin can take advantage of the 'weaker' kind of AHAs, and clog-prone skin is effectively smoothed with the help of AHAs.
What are my options and how should I start?
There's a lot of different products out there to get that signature AHA glow. It's in a few leave-on masks and sleeping packs for instant, overnight results such as the Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
They're also a popular ingredient for serums and exfoliating toners - like with BHA toners, I think that liquid toners are the best way to get the most out of your AHAs. I personally use two - CosRx Whitehead Power liquid once a week for a spa-like exfoliating experience (my skin is IMPOSSIBLY smooth and soft after using this!), and Wishtrend 5% Mandelic Skin Prep Water every other morning for general exfoliation. These two are a powerful combo for keeping my skin smooth and bright.
However, it's an absolute MUST that you use an effective SPF product if you decide to incorporate an AHA into your routine. AHAs increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, so you've gotta take extra care to avoid sun exposure where possible and use a high SPF daily, otherwise you’ll undo all your hard work!
I hope this post has been super helpful and you’re armed with more knowledge of AHAs and if they’re right for you to get the skin of your dreams!
Until next time,

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