In RawBeautySource, we have already talked about physical exfoliation and how to do it correctly. But what about chemical exfoliation? There are many controversial opinions about it. Especially when it comes to acids.
Table of Contents
But first things first!
Acids are used as exfoliators
The acids which are used for chemical peeling are from the same group: hydroxy acids. The different acids within this group can treat various skin conditions, such as dry, dehydrated or aging skin, acne, wrinkles, pigmentation, scars, psoriasis, and others. The effect of those ingredients is to peel off the dead cells and the top layer of the epidermis to relieve the symptoms of the above-mentioned skin conditions. Many of the hydroxy acids are naturally found in plants, such as sugar cane, tomatoes, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, and animal tissues.
They can be divided into two categories:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
- Glycolic Acid (extracted from sugar cane or synthetically created)
- Lactic Acid (extracted from dairy products or fermented fruits and vegs)
- Tartaric Acid (extracted from unripe grapes)
- Citric Acid (extracted from oranges and lemons)
- Malic Acid (extracted from apples and cherries)
- Mandelic Acid (extracted from bitter almonds)
Effect of hydroxy acids
The Alpha hydroxyl acids diminish the appearance of signs of aging, make the skin firm and tight, improve texture and skin tone, and hydrate.
Effect of AHA
All of the acids from the AHA category act as gentle exfoliators. They penetrate only in the skin’s surface and help the dead cells to separate from the epidermis. This way, the “new” skin is being uncovered. Because the top layer of skin is peeled off, the signs of pigmented spots, scars, flaky patches, and wrinkles are diminished. The new skin layer looks smooth, even in texture and pigment, brighter and more glowing. Products with AHA also lock the moisture inside the top skin layer and stimulate the natural production of collagen and elastin in the skin. Collagen and elastin keep the skin supple, young, flexible, and elastic. Without those two proteins, the skin starts showing signs of premature aging.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are safe ingredients. However, they have one drawback. When you use such acids, you should always wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen (even better SPF 50). This is caused by the fact that products with AHA make the skin sensitive to sunlight and UV radiation. If you get a sunburn while you are on an AHA therapy, you may have severe skin issues, such as long term pigmentation, burning, itching and increased risk of skin cancer in the long run.
Why to choose AHA?
If your skin tends to be dry or dehydrated, try to use products with AHA. Keep in mind that if your skin is sensitive, it is best to try Lactic acid first, as it is the most gentle and mild one.
How to use AHA?
When you start using products with AHA acids, choose a lower concentration and gradually increase the frequency of applications.
For example, start with applying the product 2 times per week for two weeks and then increase the frequency to 4 times a week until the end of the therapy. Try to figure out your own “schedule” that works for your skin type! This way, you will prevent any irritation and strong effects, which can “break” your skin.
Apply products with AHA acids on cleansed skin, before going to bed. Put a small amount of product on a cotton pad and gently apply it on your face using both tapping and sweeping motions. Be careful, avoid the sensitive areas around the eyes and lips.
*Keep in mind that at the beginning AHA may cause stinging sensations. Don’t worry; this means that it is working!