ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAS) This is a term used to denote one of the many naturally occurring components of milk (lactic acid), sugarcane (glycol acid), and apples (malic acid), among others. The smoothing benefit of these acids is legendary: Cleopatra, for one, was famous for her miik baths. In recent years these acids have been refined, concentrated, and added to an increasingly large number of products, such as body lotions, face creams, cuticle creams, toners, self-tanners, etc. Today’s AHAs work on a molecular level to exfoliate or turn over your skin so that it is softer and smoother on the surface. AHAs eliminate the flaking or redness or sensitivity associated with manual exfoliation (grainy scrubs) and lead to visibly smoother skin. AHAs are as close to a skin-care miracle as I have ever found, and, I would venture to say, they are here to stay.
For me, AHAs are for skin care what fluoride was for dental health. I am a big fan; they help me get my skin as smooth-looking as I like.
Nonetheless, let your skin be the judge. If you experience redness or stinging while using any product containing AHAs, cease using it. While some companies disclose the percentage of AHAs in a given product (i.e., 2 percent, 4 percent), that number can be confusing; other ingredients may counteract the active AHAs. My advice is to start with a gentle formula every other day and watch how your skin reacts.
AHAs can be used by all skin types. They can be especially good in combating blackheads, dehydrated skin, and an unevenness in the skin’s texture.