These days, during to various reasons, increasing amount of rapid changes occur in human body. One of these changes is the aging process. To a great extent, this aging process shows its signs on the skin, which in most of the cases becomes a cosmetic problem. The most common signs that appear as skin aging are wrinkles, dark spots and such other changes. As a result of this, the skin rejuvenation therapy has become popular almost in every part of the world.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are most commonly used in the skin rejuvenation therapy. They are also used as a main content in many skin products like creams, lotions, moisturizers, masks etc. Although they are more popularized recently, they have existed and proved to be beneficial since many decades.
About Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)
Alpha hydroxy acids are obtained from fruit sugars and milk sugars. Different types of acids are derived from these AHAs and are used in preparations of skin products. They are mainly available as glycolic acid from sugar cane, citric acid derived from lemons and oranges, malic acid from apples and pears, tartaric acid from grapes and lactic acid derived from milk sugar.
Although all of these are useful, glycolic acid and lactic acid are most commonly used in facial treatments and skin rejuvenation therapy. Glycolic acid is primarily used to reduce the signs of skin aging. Lactic acid is used as a skin cleanser and is mostly a content of cleansing milk.
AHA therapy is indicated for people showing signs of aging. Some of the commonest signs are dry spots, wrinkles, brown marks and dull skin. Treatment with skin peels containing glycolic acid is generally recommended in such conditions. They are also useful for people having a tendency of acne or pimples.
The working of AHA therapy is based on the principle that due to regular sun exposure and with passing time, the rate of exfoliation is slowed down. Exfoliation is the process in which the dead cells over the skin are replaced by newer healthy cells. As result, the dead skin cells remain on the skin surface and make the skin appear dull and other signs of aging become visible. The main role of the AHAs is to function as an exfoliating agent and help the removal of dead cells to make way for newer, healthier cells.
Glycolic acid helps to dissolve the glue like substances that binds the dead cells to the skin surface. Thus it helps in exfoliation, where the dead skin surface is easily peeled off. This gives way for newer cells beneath to appear on the skin surface. They are healthy cells with a clean and fresh look. Also, as the glycolic acid cell molecules are small in size they are able to penetrate easily, thereby making them more effective.
AHA skin products
AHAs are widely used in chemical peels that are used to fight aging signs, improving skin tone and for skin rejuvenation. These are used in varying concentrations depending on the user. At consumer level, AHA concentrations of 10% or less should be preferred. While higher concentrations ranging from 20%vto 70% can be used by experts and need professional supervision.
Based on the skin quality (dry or oily) and complexion (light or dark), the expert decides as to which concentration will suit the best and accordingly suggest. These chemical peels need to be repeated at regular intervals as prescribed. They seem to have an effect that causes reduction of dark spots, wrinkles and giving a smooth appearance to the skin.
Some possible side-effects that are commonly observed with the use of alpha hydroxy acid products are redness, irritation or slight burning sensation, itching or pain. Those with a darker complexion are slightly at a higher risk of irritation. Also, the use of AHA products can make the skin slightly more sensitive to sun exposure. Hence, it is advisable to use a safe and effective sunscreen.
How to choose
When it comes to choosing an AHA product, it is better to consider the FDA guidelines given for the safe use by consumers. They suggest that the final product containing AHA must have;
- AHA concentration equal to or less than 10%.
- The ph of 3.5 or higher.
- A safe and efficacious sunscreen in the combination or a warning to use it separately is made to the users.