Aestheticians sometimes call their use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) when doing facials – chemical peels; but they are not peeling the skin, they are resurfacing. Whats the difference? There are 3 levels or strengths of AHAs available:

1. Cosmetic-you can get these at the drug or department store – see The Isles of Beauty

2. Cosmeceuticals-available to licensed skincare specialists.

3. Pharmaceuticals-doctors use these or write a prescription for them.

AHA’s work mainly as  exfoliants. They cause the cells of the skin in the upper layers to become “unglued,” allowing the dead skin cells to slough off and making room for regrowth of new skin deeper down.

AHA’s also stimulate the production of collagen and elastin and improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation or sun damaged skin.

Some examples of AHA’s are: Glycolic – sugarcane, Lactic – sour milk products, Citric – citrus fruits, Malic – apples and pears, Tartaric – grapes.

For home use, I love: Glyco-A Gel by Tu’el

There is also a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) called salicylic. All  the acids have different strengths and purposes. So, what’s the difference between the BHA & AHA’s? Two words: lipid solubility, aka a substance’s ability to dissolve in oil. AHA’s are water soluble, and BHA dissolves in oil. So…oily skin likes BHA and normal to dry skin like AHA’s.

Try: 5% Salicylic Acid Clarifying Pads by DermaQuest Skin Therapy.

Side Effects of these acids include; irritation, sun sensitivity, redness, and itching.

Rosacea is a skin disease that responds favorably to some forms of resurfacing, but because this condition is often red, irritable and swollen,a patch test on the inside of the arm to check for allergic response or sensitivity is recommended. The capillary walls are near the surface of the skin in this condition (hence the redness and veiny appearance) so the skin needs extra protection. The skin is also thin, so toughening it up and thickening it with AHAs can be helpful.

AHA & BHA products may reverse some of the damage caused by the sun, but at the same time they make the skin more susceptible to sun damage. When using resurfacers use a good sunscreen – see Sunscreen 101 , that contains UVA and UVB protection.

My favorite: Oil Free Essential Protection SPF 30 by Tu’el

See you at the spa!

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