Alpha Hydroxy Acids Benefits

Alpha hydroxy acids offer many benefits to aging skin, but it's easy to be confused by alpha hydroxy acids' claims on beauty product labels. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids are acids extracted from milk or fruit, used to improve specific skin conditions. Because there are so many different formulas and strengths available, it's important to understand what to look for in a skin care product.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids Thicken the Skin
If you are concerned that your skin is thinning as you age? If you want to increase your collagen production, you may want to see your dermatologist about an alpha hydroxy acid product. Long term use of alpha hydroxy acids will increase the production of collagen, thicken the skin and improve elasticity of fibers in your skin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids Reverse Signs of Sun Damage
Alpha hydroxy acids can fill in wrinkles, add plumpness to the skin and smooth skin texture. The combination of these changes to the skin surface results in younger, healthier looking skin.

Beta Hydroxy Acids Fight Acne
Because beta hydroxy acids can reduce oil production, promote rapid preproduction of cells and cell turnover and promote the development of healthy skin, these products are often used in acne regimens.

If you think that alpha or beta hydroxy acid products could benefit you, see a dermatologist: Most over-the-counter products contain 5-15 percent alpha hydroxy acid, which is not enough to produce significant improvement. Anything under 8 percent is generally not effective at all, while anything over 8 percent can be irritating if it is not used properly. If you see a dermatologist, you will get a chemical peel or topical application containing about 25-50 percent AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) in a controlled environment. The dermatologist will know what type of AHA is best for your skin condition and skin type; he also will also know how to apply the AHA product in such a way as to minimize discomfort and irritation.

If you're determined to treat yourself, however, you will want to consider the following factors when choosing an over-the-counter AHA product:

  • If you have fair skin, avoid products made with glycolic acid. Choose products made with mandelic acid, malic acid, lactic acid or gluconic acid instead. These products will be less irritating to fair skin.
  • If you have sensitive skin, choose an AHA product with a pH of 3.5-4.0. Lower pH levels will be more irritating.
  • Only use products containing at least 8 percent AHA. Do not use anything containing more than 15 percent AHA on your own. Let a dermatologist apply anything higher than 15 percent to avoid serious skin damage and pain.
  • Follow instructions on the label carefully. Be patient with over-the-counter products; it may take months before you see any noticeable improvement, but you can damage your skin if you are impatient and use too much or use the product too often.
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