AHA! You’ve figured it out! The missing part of your skincare routine!
Most people know that there’s typically a cleanser and water-based moisturizer involved. But adding alpha hydroxy acids – even beta hydroxy acids – into your skincare routine can take your skin to the next level.
These acids aren’t necessarily as surprising as they sound. In fact, odds are you’ve already heard of a lot of them.
Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, just to name a few. But each of them have a unique thing to offer.
So whether you’re looking to improve skin texture, get rid of clogged pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines, or all of the above, then an AHA cleanser or AHA body lotion may be in your future. Ready to get glowing skin and look surprised while you’re at it?
(Just kidding.) Then keep reading below!
What is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)?
AHA’s are acids or chemical exfoliants used to brighten skin tone and rectify uneven skin texture. Most of these acids contain loads of antioxidant and hydrating properties.
So even though they include the word “acid” in their name, they’re not as drastic as they sound. You might think that only one skin type can soak up the benefits of an AHA.
But all skin types can actually benefit from its unique properties. That’s right, dry skin can line up after oily skin, sensitive skin, combination skin, acne-prone skin, and all the rest!
Because AHA products don’t discriminate. They just want you to live your best life. And sometimes, that means sloughing off dead skin cells and acne scars.
See Related: When To Exfoliate In Your Skin Care Routine
What are Beta Hydroxy Acids?
Since there’s an alpha, there’s gotta be a beta. But beta hydroxy acid is far less known than its superstar cousin.
These types of acids are oil-soluble. And because these beta’s are oil-soluble, they can actually penetrate your skin deeper to unclog pores.
And this is what makes them ideal for acne-prone skin. That being said, beta hydroxy acid is far more potent so sensitive skin-owners beware.
But you’re here for the AHA’s, not the BHA’s. So let’s get back to the chemical exfoliants you came for!
Benefits of AHA’s
Okay, we already gave away that AHA’s help you slough off dead skin cells. But they do a whole lot more than just that.
Alpha hydroxy acid exfoliates dead skin cells
When you exfoliate dead skin cells, you’re doing much more than just getting rid of something old and tired that’s left beneath your mineral liquid foundation. In fact, you’re actually helping to stimulate new skin cell turnover as you remove dead skin cells.
So you’re just making room for the new! Besides, in doing so, you can typically expect AHA’s to reduce bumpy skin, dark spots, or other skin discoloration as it unclogs pores and gets to the root of your skin’s radiance.
Alpha hydroxy acids boost collagen production
If fine lines and wrinkles are getting you down, then AHA’s have got your back. Let us rephrase that… If fine lines and wrinkles are literally bringing you down, then AHA’s have got your face.
Eh, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Either way, you can count on AHA’s to help boost collagen production which is the quickest way to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, all while evening out your skin tone.
Exfoliating acids hydrate the skin
When you hear acid, you might not think that it can hydrate skin. But glycolic and lactic acids, citric acid, and mandelic acid are all humectants which means they attract water to the skin.
Rumor has it that those with dry skin especially love incorporating lactic acids into their skincare routine. But that’s not to say that all skin types can’t benefit from an AHA product or two!
AHA products offer antioxidant benefits
Our skin reacts to so many different environmental factors throughout the day. But AHA’s help our skin care by providing the benefits of antioxidant protection.
Among all the acids, citric acid in particular stands out with its ability to fight free radical damage. And it might even cure those dark spots you’ve been trying hard to scrub away.
What’s the best Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) for your skin type?
Skin types are definitely not one size fits all. So go down the list and see which AHA might be the best one for you!
Glycolic acid is one of the most popular AHA’s out there – and one of the smallest. And you want to know another fun fact about glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is actually derived from sugar cane! So this colorless humectant can help to deliver glowing skin, especially when paired with hyaluronic acid or vitamin E, whether you’ve got sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin.
Along with glycolic acid, lactic acid definitely wins the popularity contest as well. But as far as glycolic and lactic acids go, sensitive skin beware.
Don’t use too much of either as they can cause sensitivity to the sun. Just use enough lactic acid or glycolic acid to even skin tone and texture, and maybe even reduce those large pores too.
You might not like the taste of bitter almonds. But when mandelic acid is derived from you, you might not even care!
In the world of skin care, mandelic acid has gotten its bold reputation from treating acne-prone skin and excess oil, especially when paired with a hyaluronic acid moisturizer. So if you’re looking for hydration and firmness, this could be the acid for you.
If you’re looking for something fruity in your AHA products, try out malic acids which are derived from apples and pears. They help to smooth out texture while fading any discoloration.
And on top of that? They’re expert at balancing your skin’s pH level which protects your overall skin health!
If your sensitive skin is suffering from pores in need of unclogging, consider incorporating salicylic acid into your skin care routine. When paired with glycolic acid and lactic acid, these ingredients work well together to remove debris.
And exfoliate the surface of the skin, making it perfect for combination skin types. Two peas in a pod? More like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid combined! (Okay, we’ll quit trying to make up new phrases now. That was embarrassing…)
How to use AHA products
As far as AHA’s go, you’ll definitely want to consult the back of your product on how to use it and how much to use. But here’s a general guideline for you as you delve in.
AHA Lotions, Serums, and Toners
AHA body lotion, serums, and toners, oh my! We get that it’s exciting to have a new skin care product in your life.
But instead of using it daily right off the bat, start by using your AHA body lotion, serum, or toner a few times a week. Then, if your skin is all good to go, feel free to up your usage.
AHA typically contains a high concentration of glycolic acid or lactic acid, depending on the mask. So these AHA products are more suitable for those who have experience with chemical exfoliants.
Typically, you should not exceed using an AHA mask more than once a week. And after rinsing off the mask, let your skin breathe without adding another exfoliating product on top of it.
AHA Body Lotions
AHA body lotions are not your typical body lotion. But they do get applied the same way.
For best results, shower with a water-soluble body wash to remove all impurities. Then, apply your AHA body lotion to specific areas that need a little extra exfoliation.
Best Alpha Hydroxy Acid Products
Alright, we have rounded up seven of the best AHA products for you (you’re welcome). And while they are listed in no particular order, they are also listed in a very particular order with the best being saved for last!
#1. Alpha Skin Care Renewal Body Lotion
This body lotion isn’t playing games. If you want exfoliation to go further then your face, then consider this body lotion your new best friend.
With a 12% concentration of glycolic acid, this AHA product will ensure exfoliation and hydration. So get ready to say goodbye to dead skin and hello to booming new collagen production!
Because at the end of the day? Glycolic acid has got your back. And your legs. And your whole body!
#2. NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash
Glycolic acid is at it again with this AHA product! With 18% glycolic acid, this product is perhaps the most thorough cleanser out there as it decongests pores.
And its grapefruit extract even supplies you antioxidant radiance to brighten up your complexion. Because glycolic acid takes up a lot of room in this formula (and rightly so!), this product is best for those with oily skin.
#3. Skinbetter Refresh Oxygen Infusion Wash
Okay, this cleansing wash is like a magical concoction of all the great AHA’s out there. It’s got glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid, each of which slow-release to gently exfoliate your skin.
And the best part of this slow-release? This actually helps to reduce the risk of irritation.
So saddle up with this amazing product. And also enjoy the boost in complexion-brightening oxygen!
#4. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Firming Cream
We all know that the eyes are perhaps the most delicate part of the body. And the skin around them? Even more delicate.
But if you notice any signs of aging that you’d rather not see for at least ten years more, consider this eye cream to help your skin firm and fight against free radical damage. With glycolic acid (are you noticing a trend?) this formula is guaranteed to firm you up.
And the addition of vitamins A, B, and C will help you decrease dark circles. And get you singing along to the alphabet song again!
#5. Skinceuticals Glycolic Renewal Cleanser
If you’ve got sensitive skin and you’re worried about introducing anything new to it, start with this cleanser for a mild introduction to glycolic acid. This wash-off formula makes it the perfect product for those new to AHA’s.
But the glycolic acid still allows users to benefit from its exfoliating and brightening capacities. Plus, it’s got aloe leaf juice which helps to calm and restore the skin.
So don’t think that you have to immediately commit to glycolic acid now and forever. Give it a spin with this product that allows you to meet glycolic acid, then decide if you’d like to go out for a second date.
#6. Natural Exfoliator Skinodyssey with Glycolic Acid
Okay, remember that best-for-last part? This is it!
Not to toot our own horn (but definitely to toot our own horn), our Natural Exfoliator SkinOdyssey with Glycolic Acid will become your next obsession. Because seriously?
The new skin that emerges from this radiant formula will have you begging for more. As per usual, the glycolic acid in our formula will help to increase collagen and elastin in your skin.
But that’s not even the best part. Paired with citrus extract and green tea extract, our unique formula will help your skin retain moisture while promoting smoothness, softness, and a general decrease in wrinkles.
That means youthful, dewy skin. Need we say more?
#7. Hyaluronic Cellular Recovery AHA Serum (Alpha Hydroxy)
Earlier we said that glycolic acid and the rest of our AHA’s are best when paired with a moisturizing agent like hyaluronic acid. Well, this formula does exactly that!
Our Hyaluronic Cellular Recovery AHA Serum works with your skin’s natural chemistry, restoring any damage that’s been done by the aging process. Proudly cruelty-free, this product also helps to repair skin cells, stimulating cell renewal and strengthening the skin’s self-defense system against pollutants.
With green tea as an antioxidant, this formula truly packs a bump when it comes to protection and nourishment. Not to mention that it balances your skin’s pH level as well.
So, what are you waiting for?! Grab this up while it lasts!
While glycolic acid does make a huge appearance in most of these products, hopefully we’ve helped you find new acids to become friends with too. There are plenty of AHA’s out there to help you bring out the best skin that’s hiding underneath.
And what’s better than being able to live your best life while looking and feeling beautiful too? So grab your very own AHA product and get started.
It’s a beautiful world out there. And you can bet that glycolic acid and other AHA’s will help you weed out the rough patches to get the shiny and new.
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