January 19, 2012

all about hydroxy acids - Part 1

With increasing research into what causes wrinkles  and the effects of photo-ageing, the use of hydroxy acids has increased greatly in popularity.

There are two types of hydroxy acids - alpha and beta.  Today I will be focusing on Beta Hydroxy Acid, which is also my preference, since I am still suffering from
Occasional breakouts and skin deep blackheads.  Beta hydroxy acid is reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and pigmentation of photodamaged skin after at least 6 months of daily application.

And this is  how Beta Hydroxy Acid Works
For starters, beta hydroxy acid = salicylic acid, works mainly as an exfoliant.
It causes the cells of the epidermis to become "unglued" allowing the dead skin cells to slough off,
making room for regrowth of new skin.

So what is the Difference Between Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids then?
The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid is their lipid (oil) solubility.
Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble only, while beta hydroxy acid is lipid (oil) soluble.
Because of this difference, beta hydroxy acid is better used on oily skin with blackheads and whiteheads. 
Alpha hydroxy acids are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem.

 Can Beta Hydroxy Acid cause Irritation?
Beta hydroxy acid appears to be less irritating than alpha hydroxy acid even though it penetrates deeper into the pore.
This occurs because salicylic acid is derived from acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin.
Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties, and salicylic acid retains many of these anti-inflammatory properties.
 Despite this fact, beta hydroxy acid can still cause skin irritation.
Symptoms of irritation include redness, burning, itching, pain, and possibly scarring.
People with darker colored skin are at a higher risk of scarring pigment changes with beta hydroxy acid.

TIPS when using a Beta Hydroxy Acid formulations
Beta hydroxy acid is found in a variety of skin care products including moisturizers, cleansers, eye cream and foundations.
It is best to pick one product that contains the proper formulation of beta hydroxy acid to use as your exfoliant,  and then choose other skin care products or cosmetics that don't contain hydroxy acids to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation.
Using beta hydroxy acid in a moisturizer base may be the best combination of products.
Cleansers containing beta hydroxy acid are not very effective because the beta hydroxy acid must be absorbed in the skin to work.
Cleansers are washed off before this absorption occurs.

My Hydroxy Acid  skin care routine:

I cleanse my face with  Ageless Total Facial Cleanser by Image Skincare
This is a foaming cleanser that rinses away makeup and oil, formulated with glycolic acid.

To remove any residue or dirt left on my skin I continue with Image Clear Cell Clarifying Tonic,
This Salicylic Acid based 'clarifyer' gently removes excess oil and bacteria while refreshing the skin with  essential herbal extracts of Tea Tree, Green Tea & Ivy. I found it has done wonders in removing my stubborn blackheads.

To prevent my skin from drying out I apply, Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème in the evenings, and even sometimes in the mornings
This is a hydrating, Vitamin C & Anti-Oxidant rich emollient formula, containing 20% of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Ceramide 3, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Rice Bran.
It really does a great job on re -hydrating my skin. Best moisturizer, I have used so far, and I have tried so many.

See also my reviews  on  Image Skincare here.

WARNINGS  when using a Beta Hydroxy Acid formulations
Sunscreen MUST be applied liberally when using an alpha hydroxy acid product.
The sunscreen should have an SPF  of at least 15 for UVB protection and contain
avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide for UVA protection.

Unlike alpha hydroxy acid that must be listed in the top 3 ingredients to indicate the appropriate concentration,
beta hydroxy acid can be listed in the middle or even towards the bottom of the ingredient list
because it is effective at lower concentrations. Beta hydroxy acid found in skin-care products works best in  a concentration of 1% to 2% and at a pH of 3 to 4.

Make your own Beta Hydroxy Acid mask with Aspirin:

Like nearly everyone who has tried the plain aspirin mask, I was completely astonished by the immediate results I saw  and it has been a regular part of my skincare routine since that time.

This is my  personal version of the Aspirin Mask, which  leaves my skin glowing every time.

Take  3 tablets of water-soluble Aspirin 
Dissolve it in 1 large spoon water in a small container
Apply to your  face for about 20 -30 minutes
Remove the Mask with clear water.
Apply a good moisturizer after, since the mask can be bit drying . Your skin will very likely start to peel lightly two days after, but this  is a good thing,
peeling skin = new skin.

Before the Aspirin Mask                                                        After the Aspirin mask

Have you tried a homemade aspirin mask? What is your experience with BHA’s so far?

                                                                    xxx Marina 


  1. hey,
    wow, you're from dublin. I've been there three times to visit some friends and it's just one of the coolest places on earth... =D

  2. Will definitely be trying that mask! xo

  3. Hello!
    want to try that!
    Today is Sugar Lane first anniversary and I would like to thank you all with a especial post! Drop by and leave a comment ;)
    Kisses from Spain,

  4. this is a really informative post loved it

    following you now :)i will b really happy if you can follow me back

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