So we keep reading about AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, chemical exfoliation and how its just everything in a skincare routine. Who are these bad boys though, how do they work, how do you layer them in your routine and are they actually effective? Over the next few weeks, we're going to give you in-depth write ups about all of it. Today, lets talk about AHAs.
AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acids. They are water-soluble and help with exfoliation by basically dissolving the bond between skin cells on the outer layers to remove dead cells and allow you to achieve a smoother surface. All AHAs no matter how strong they are have humectant properties. This means they are able to hold in moisture for longer, which is why they are often recommended to people with dry skin.
The most common types of AHAs in skincare are the following:
1. Glycolic Acid - this baby is a naturally occurring substance which can be found in a variety of plants, including sugar cane, sugar beets, and pineapple. Its made up of the smallest molecules, which are able to penetrate the skin deeply and easily. They're awesome to combat fine lines, wrinkles, scars, blackheads, dullness, and acne. Sounds like an awesome multi-tasker with ninja skills right? You're right, it totally is. Beware though, this guy is pretty strong and all the muscle flexing can lead to purging (read all about purging here). It takes time for your skin to adjust to the harshness but once it does: boom. (PS Always remember to patch test before you smother your face in a new product). Here are some recommendations for products we carry that contain glycolic acid:
2. Lactic Acid - Considered gentler than Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid is still a super powerful ingredient which helps with reducing acne, the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging. Don't worry! It's also a natural acid derived from milk, fruits, vegetables and other plants and is safe enough to get over the counter. It also hydrates, increases natural barrier lipids in the outer layer of skin, and helps immensely with pigmentation. Since its milder than glycolic acid, people with sensitive skin won't require to be as wary of it. (still patch test though!) Oh, and please don't use it if you have any milk allergies! Here are some products we would recommend that contain Lactic Acid:
3. Mandelic Acid - the mildest of them all, Mandelic Acid has larger molecules than both Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. This basically means that it takes much longer to penetrate the skin but its definitely the least irritating. Some people might prefer that because it helps during the purging period while others just want to see quicker results so they tend to avoid this ingredient. Us personally you ask? We don't carry any products that contain Mandelic Acid to be honest but that doesn't mean that its not effective! There are some awesome chemical peels and other products that contain this magic and you might want to give it a shot. Please beware though: if you have any allergies to nuts, you probably want to steer clear.
A common question we're asked is how to layer these acids with your regular products. The answer: use it in the exfoliating step of your skincare routine. This would be after you double-cleanse, and right before your first layer of hydration (which could be your fermented essence or your toner). Why you ask? Basically, acids have a lower pH level, and the order in which you use your skincare products goes from the lowest pH level to the highest, which is why these guys come in right after cleansing. Also, if you're using Vitamin C, despite the fact that its also low in its pH level, you want to use your AHAs and BHAs before the Vitamin C. So the order would be: Oil cleanser, water-based cleanser, AHA/BHA treatment, Vitamin C, Toner, Essence, Serum/Ampoule, Moisturizer.
On a final note, we have to let you know that just like Vitamin C, these acids make you super photosensitive and your skin is more vulnerable to the Sun when you use them. What does this mean? USE YOUR SUNSCREEN! We strongly recommend using your AHA and BHA treatments at night only and always using sunscreen the next day.
That's a wrap for today folks. Have an awesome weekend while we work on our next write up about BHAs!
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