Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Know Your Ingredients: Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Hello, lovelies~ It's been awhile since I did an in-depth post about a specific skincare ingredients. So, I'm here to talk a little bit about alpha hydroxy acid. If you are looking for a whitening or lightening cream, it's probably best to look for a cream to contain this ingredient. 

What is AHA?

Alpha hydroxy acid is a chemical compound that has carboxylic acid that is substituted with hydroxyl group on the adjacent carbon. Well, that is the definition of AHA as a whole. The source of AHA canb be natural or synthetic (man made). It can be found in  certain fruits or sugar or milk.

The Types

The most commonly used alpha hydroxy acid in skincare products are glycolic acid (2-hydroxyethanoic) and lactic acid (2-hydroxypropanoic). 

How does it work?

This main ingredients is usually found in products that help to lighten the skin or dark spots on the skin. Alpha hydroxy acid works by removing the corneocytes on the uppermost layer of our skin or usually called epidermis. This helps the skin's keratinization process on an epidermal level.

Do you still remember what keratinization is? I've already covered this in my previous post, so just click here to find out about keratinization. 

Anyway, alpha hydroxy acids helps to remove the 'glue' that adheres the corneocytes on the epidermis so it can form newer corneocytes with lesser pigmentation. Imagine the old corneocyte that is already worn and dull being replaced with a newer one that looks better! 

What skin problems can it help treat?

Since the principle of AHA is to unveil new skin underneath, it can be used in conditions, such as:

  • Fine lines
  • Sun spots
  • Dull skin 

However, please keep in mind that changes won't happen overnight, not even a month (sometimes). These things take time, especially with a low concentration of AHA cream in treating sun spots. The concentration of AHA in creams are usually below 10%. For better results, it would take 20-70% AHA, which is present in chemical peels. If you really want faster results, consult with your dermatologist the options of laser treatment or a simple, but routine chemical peel.

Can acne benefit from AHA?

The answer to that is yes, but it would be more effective to use BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) since they can penetrate into the pores. AHA cannot penetrate into the pores to clean the excess sebum. However, there are some people that are allergic to BHA, so sometimes AHA is used.
Left hand side is AHA and right hand side is BHA or Salicylic Acid

Are there any side effects?

As with all medicine, there are and will always be side effects. Please keep in mind that these things may or may not happen to you since people have different reactions to things. We are an individual, for crying out loud! I digress.

The most common side effects from using AHA are:

  • Mild skin irritations
  • Redness
  • Peeling (flaking)
  • Itching

Any tips for beginners using AHA?

  • Always start with the lowest AHA concentration and slowly increase it as your skin gets adjusted. 
  • Find specific formulations for your skin type, be it lotion or cream
  • It is best to use AHA at night time
  • Always use sunscreen in the morning because AHA increases your skin's sensitivity towards the sun. I cannot stress this enough. 

Emang di sini ada krim AHA ga pake resep dokter?

Ada dong~ Yang kutahu so far itu ada dari merk Wardah namanya Lightening Night Creme Step 1 (AHA 2%) dan yang step 2 (AHA 4%). Ada juga dari Bless namanya Resurfacing Cream+ yang mengandung 9% AHA seperti yang udah dijelasin ama Ms. Mizha dari 
Krim yang ada di pasaran

I think that is all I can say for now about AHA. If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you asap. Until then I'll see you later.


2. Alpha hydroxy acid facial treatments.

3. Kurtzweil, Paula (March–April 1998). "Alpha Hydroxy Acids for Skin Care"FDA Consumer. Archived from the original on February 6, 2006.

Image Reference

  1. AHA Molecule.
  4. Milk food source.
  5. Sugar Cane.
  6. Citrus fruits.
  7. Grapes.
  8. Apples.
  9. Wrinkles.
  10. Age Spots.

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  1. It's almost funny you post this, because Ulta is having a sale on a collection that has AHA as the main ingredient and I was just wondering to myself, what the heck it was. Now my question is answered, thanks!