February 01, 2012

All About Hydroxy Acids - Part 2

A hydroxy acid is a family of ingredients commonly used in topical skin care and cosmetics. There 
are two types: alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid.
In my previous post I have focused on Beta Hydroxy Acids, which I also personally prefer.
The following are the 5 major types of alpha hydroxy acids found in skin-care products and their sources:
Glycolic acid - sugar cane
This acid creates a mild exfoliating action. Glycolic acid peels work by loosening up and exfoliating the superficial top layer. This peel also stimulates collagen growth. High strength peels are good in terms of efficacy but they irritate more.
Lactic acid - milk
This acid will remove dead skin cells, and promote healthier skin
Malic acid - apples and pears
This peel is the same type of mildly invasive peel and can open up the pores, allow the pores to expel their sebum and reduce acne
Citric acid - oranges and lemons
These peels are simple and effective, although not incredibly invasive or capable of significant improvement with one treatment
Tartaric acid - grapes
This is acid is capable of delivering the same benefits as the above peels.
And this is how Alpha Hydroxy Acids work:
Alpha hydroxy acids work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. They can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness.Other benefits also include minimizing, reducing or eliminating signs of skin aging such as undesirable skin tone, also called age spots, and skin texture, the dreaded fine lines and wrinkles,  although the improvement can be only seen after months of daily application. Alpha hydroxy acids may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
Because of their potentially severe action, AHAs are used at different levels strengths. Consumer products usually have levels of 10 percent or less. Professional products, those used by estheticians and other beauty professionals, have AHA levels between 20 percent to 30 percent. Prescription products, those only available through a doctor, have AHA levels between 50 percent and 70 percent.

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 white heads and black heads, because it generally causes less inflammation and irritation.
Because of its lightening properties, Alpha hydroxy acids are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem.

TIPS when using Alpha Hydroxy Acid formulations
Alpha hydroxy acids are found in a variety of skin care products including moisturizers, cleansers, eye cream, sunscreen, and foundations.
It is best to pick one product that contains the proper formulation of alpha hydroxy acid to use as your exfoliant, and then choose other skin care products or cosmetics that don't contain alpha hydroxy acids to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation.
Using an alpha hydroxy acid in a moisturizer base may be the best combination of products.
Cleansers containing alpha hydroxy acids are not very effective because the alpha hydroxy acid must be absorbed in the skin to work. Cleansers are washed off before this absorption occurs.
At this time there are no effective products that combine alpha hydroxy acid and sunscreen, because sunscreen is not stable at the pH required to make the alpha hydroxy acid effective.
Alpha hydroxy acids found in skin-care products work best in a concentration of 5% to 8% and at a pH of 3 to 4.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid and side effects
Alpha hydroxy acids can also cause mild skin irritation, redness, swelling, and skin discoloration.
Alpha hydroxy acids at a concentration of 10% or less as a lotion or cream are likely safe for most people when applied to the skin appropriately and as directed.
Facial peels, lotions, and creams with a concentration greater than 10% should only be used under the supervision of a dermatologist. Facial peels can cause moderate to severe skin irritation, redness, and burning. Facial peels left on the skin for periods longer than recommended can cause severe burns to the skin.
In some people, alpha hydroxy acids can make the skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Be sure to use a sunscreen while using alpha hydroxy acid products. 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.

My  Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acid  skin care routine using Image Skincare:

I cleanse my face daily  with  Image Ageless total facial cleanser.
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 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.

 Once a week I apply the Image Ageless Total Resurfacing Masque
This mask contains an exfoliating blend of Glycolic and Salicylic acids resurface the skin, gently sloughing off dead cells. A lightening blend diminishes brown spots. I have been using the product for about four months now, and I absolutely see an improvement in skin tone and texture.
I like to use it with a layer of Image Vitamin C hydrating enzyme mask on top to really exfoliate the top layers of  my skin.

If my skin starts peeling, I use one of my favorites mask by Image, the Ormedic Balancing Soothing Gel Mask.  This is an ultra-gentle, organic cooling gel masque developed for compromised, inflamed or irritated skin.  It contains Organic Aloe Vera, Arnica Montana and licorice , which quickly help reduce redness and other signs of irritation while bringing sensitive skin into healthy balance.

To prevent my skin from drying out I apply, Image 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.

Make your own Alpha Hydroxy Acid at home

Glycolic acid - sugar cane

Mix one tablespoon sugar with two tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon, apply to your clean face for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.
Or you can also just use plain sugar to exfoliate your face, just massage your face gently as you would an exfoliating peel.

Lactic acid - milk
Mix one tablespoon milk with one tablespoon natural yogurt, apply to your clean face for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.
Malic acid - apples and pears

Apply fresh juiced apple or pear to your clean face for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.
You can also use a cider vinegar diluted with water as a toner.

Citric acid - oranges and lemons

Rub a wedge of lemon or orange all over your face. Let it sit for about two minutes. Rinse off with cold water.
Tartaric acid - grapes

Apply 3 table spoons of white wine to your clean face for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with cold water.
Or massage fresh grapes onto your skin. Rinse off with cold water.

Have you ever tried any AHAs creams  or exfoliators? And what t is your experience with AHA’s so far?

xxx Marina

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  1. Such an informative post, thanks lady! xo

  2. Great blog! I'm a new follower =)

    1. Thank you Diana! Following you back!
      xxx Marina

  3. Thanks for the follow! Great post! I am always searching for tips on how to get healthy skin! I know where to look now ;)


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