Alpha Hydroxy Acid Skin Care: Benefits/Side Effects

AHA For Skin CareWhen we read the word acid as an ingredient on any beauty product label, it makes many of us think what acid has got to do with skin care. And you may give it a miss. But actually it’s a magic skin care ingredient – nothing to be frightened of.

Should You Be Using Alpha Hydroxy Acid For Skin (AHA)? 

Read on here to find out whether you should use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for skin care, it’s benefits, side effects and a diy natural AHA homemade recipe. 

What Are AHAs?

Alpha hydroxy acids are plant & animal-based chemical compounds derived from organic sugars, sugar cane, sour milk, grapes or citrus fruit.  Put simply, they are a form of natural acids usually found in foods such as citric acid (extracted from citrus fruits), glycolic acid (extracted from sugar cane), lactic acid (extracted from sour milk), malic acid (extracted from apples), tartaric acid (extracted from grapes) etc.

For skin care, the most widely used AHA forms are glycolic and lactic acid. Most of the skincare products contained either of these two kinds.

AHAs Skin Care Benefits?

I will show you now why and how the AHAs are good for your skin:

AHA Skin Care – Acne 

Pimples are formed when skin pores are blocked with sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria. AHAs work to open up and unclog the skin pores, leaving them cleaned and rejuvenated. They also help to reduce size of the enlarged skin pores. In addition to all these, increased cell turnover can also minimize appearance of the acne scars on the skin’s surface. And some of the AHA forms such as citric and malic acid help soothe inflamed skin. 

Aha Skin Care – Exfoliation

AHAs skin care products are available over-the-counter, which can be used as chemical exfoliators as alternatives to manual exfoliation (manual exfoliation is harsh for your skin). They mainly work to dissolve the bonds between skin cells to help get rid of dead skin cells, providing a smoother skin surface.

AHA Skincare – Help Other Skincare Products To Work Effectively  

AHAs help unclog skin pores. This effectually leaves your skin fresher and ready for absorbing the other skin care products, which increases their efficacy.

Let’s visualize this practical example: A moisturizer will simply sit on top of dry, flaky skin – meaning not productively moisturizing the skin from inside. However, after applying a toner with AHA, the moisturizer can reach the cells that really need it, making the moisturizer far more productive than it otherwise would have. 

AHA Skincare – Wrinkles: 

AHAs are an efficient way to stimulate production of collagen & elastin, and so help the skin retains a stronger, bouncier texture. In addition, dry skin is prone to fine lines, so an AHA such as glycolic acid is effective since it has the ability to draw moisture to the skin surface, improving the hydration levels in the skin.

Should You Use Alpha Hydroxy Acid For Skin Care?

When applied to the skin, AHAs work by getting rid of the top layers of dead skin cells – providing a smoother skin texture. They are an effective alternative to harsh manual exfoliation scrubs.

As they act on the surface cells, they are a great help in reducing fine lines, dark spots and acne scars.

You can apply them topically to your skin to treat acne, reduce appearance of acne scars, tackle photo-aged skin, smoothen and firm up your skin. AHAs are good for almost all skin problems and very useful ingredient in skin care.

Side Effects Of AHAs On Skin

Alpha-hydroxy acids have a few side effects such as mild irritation (especially in case of sensitive skin) and sun sensitivity.

To help avoid skin irritation, you should begin with a product having low concentration. In addition, in order to allow your skin chance to get used to the product – begin by applying AHA skin product every alternate day, gradually working up to a daily application.

Also as AHAs increase photosensitivity, so remember to wear a sunscreen everyday.

Lastly, never use too much & follow the instructions given on the package.

AHA Skin Care Products

In addition to peels; face washes, masks, serums and creams with AHAs are commonly available on market. Since, the rinse-off products get less time to work their magic, serums are best to use as you can apply them directly onto your skin. Also serums have smaller molecules as compared to creams and remain longer in contact with the skin.

Natural Skin Care With AHAs

For those who believe in natural skin care products, here’s a diy natural AHA face mask recipe that you can make easily at home!

Lemon contains citric acid, an AHA form, which is one of the best natural ingredients to lighten age and sun spots. Milk contains lactic acid, another AHA form, that helps get rid of dead skin cells. So, lemon juice and milk together is a great combo for skin care.   

You will need:

(i) Full fat milk or yogurt: 2 tablespoons, plain & unflavored

(ii) Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon, freshly squeezed


(i) Take a bowl, and simply mix the two ingredients well until you get a smooth spreadable paste. In case you’re using milk, allow the mixture sit for a 2-3 hours until it curdles.

(ii) Apply the mixture onto your face and neck, avoiding the eyes. Let it sit on your skin for at least 20 minutes, for longer time – if you can. As the mask dries out, you’ll feel it tightening. Rinse it off using lukewarm water and apply your favorite moisturizer.

Repeat this process twice a week and see how your skin transforms into beautiful naturally glowing complexion over time.


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