Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are fruit acids derived from edibles like grapes, apples, oranges, milk, and cane sugar. These gentle acids dissolve clumps of dead cells, clearing them away. Some researchers also speculate that AHAs may stimulate collagen production.
The bottom line: AHAs make skin more luminous. Look for glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, or tartaric acid on a products ingredients list.
There are a variety of ways to work an AHA product into your routine:
- Try an AHA facial cleanser It will let you exfoliate and clean your skin at the same time.
- Use a moisturizer with an AHA This double-duty product locks moisture into skin while also whisking away dead cells.
Tip: Glycolic acid is one of the most popular AHAs found in moisturizers; most over-the-counter products have between 5 and 10 percent. While these concentrations are suitable for most people, take care not to over-exfoliate. If you mix and match too many AHA productssay, an acid-based cleanser and AHA moisturizer in the morning and an exfoliating cream at nightyou run the risk of inflaming your skin. A gentler option than glycolic acid is lactic acid, which also happens to be a moisturizer.
Test-drive an at-home peel Do-it-yourself peels improve radiance and smoothness. "It's one of the best ways to see a quick difference," says Miami-based dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D. When you slough those dead cells with a peel, it enhances the functioning of your skin, and active ingredients in your skin carelike antioxidants and retinolpenetrate better.
Tip: If you give yourself an at-home peel, be extra cautious about sun exposure afterward. AHAs may leave skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Also, avoid using either exfoliators (such as scrubs) or retinol products until a week after you finish treatment.
Try these recommended products: