Yes, it’s true… according to historians, Cleopatra used to bathe herself in buttermilk. That’s because she knew what it has taken others thousands of years to catch up with - buttermilk contains alpha hydroxy acids. So it was great for treating dry skin, age spots, fine lines and wrinkles and even breakouts. Of course, buttermilk isn’t the only source of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). In fact, face acids are becoming increasingly common in skin care products.
So what should you look for in your skin care products? And how could AHAs help you to maintain your healthy skin glow?
What are face acids?
Face acids are the name commonly given to alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, used in skin care. Their main use is as an exfoliant - depending on the type of acid they work to break down links between skin cells and get deeper into the layers of the skin for more thorough exfoliation.
Why do people use face acids?
AHAs and BHAs are also great for getting back your skin glow. Radiance is a sign of healthy skin - when your skin is bright it is because light is reflected from smooth skin, that is healthy and plump. Face acids help to restore moisture, smooth texture and to encourage cell turnover, giving you that radiance.
What is an AHA?
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are often derived from organic sugars and are a chemical exfoliant. That’s because they work by exfoliating your skin from the inside out, unlike physical exfoliants that work from the outside in with abrasive contact. They remove dead skin cells by breaking down the connections between the cells making it easier to remove those cells.
What does Alpha Hydroxy Acid treatment do for your skin?
AHAs are an exfoliant. Depending on the AHA concentration, they are often more gentle than BHAs, working on the surface level of the skin to remove dead skin cells. Using skin care products with AHAs can leave your skin feeling softer, firmer and more hydrated and also can reduce the appearance of deepening lines and wrinkles and sun damage. Your skin will also look brighter as the surface is thoroughly cleared of dead skin cells and pollutants.
How does an AHA work?
AHAs are water soluble acids. This means they can quickly change your skin’s pH, causing a ‘burst’ in exfoliation. When this happens the glue (desmosome connections) between the cells in the lower area of the stratum corneum is dissolved, naturally causing cells to shed and renew.
What’s the difference between AHA’s and BHA’s?
As we’ve already discovered, AHAs are water soluble acids, whereas BHAs are lipid soluble so are great for attracting and getting rid of excess oil. BHAs also work deeper into the pores and are good for dealing with breakout prone skin. A common BHA is salicylic acid, which is often found in acne treatments.
What are some of the AHAs I may have heard of?
Here are some of the most common AHAs used in skincare:
Glycolic acid - this is often used in professional skin peels. It is a highly active AHA that is smaller in molecules than other AHAs and so is most effective in a professional peel.
Lactic acid - milder than glycolic, this is a good active ingredient for most skin types as it isn’t as harsh as other AHAs but still is effective. It also works to balance pH and is antimicrobial, dealing with the bad bacteria in the skin.
Malic acid - as well as being a good ingredient in chemical peels, malic acid is also a good pH regulator for your skin and so is often found in smaller concentrations in skincare products.
Citric acid - this is a great AHA for treating uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation and also can work well for skin prone to breakouts and clogged pores.
Tartaric acid - this is a great antioxidant for the skin.
Phytic acid - this is a great AHA for preventing hyperpigmentation - its antioxidant properties and skin balancing qualities work to stop the skin from over producing melanin unnecessarily.
Are AHAs good for my….
AHAs are good for dry skin, providing they are used correctly and at the right levels. Overuse of AHAs and BHAs can dry out your skin, however, combining AHAs with active ingredients that work to replace moisture is a good idea for dry skin.
AHAs like citric acid are good for unclogging pores. Equally when you have oily skin, this tends to mean oil traps dead skin cells on top of the skin and clogs pores. Using an AHA un-glues these cells and helps to renew your skin’s surface.
It’s important to say that AHAs can sometimes not be suitable for sensitive skin. A lot depends on the concentration and the type of exfoliation being used. Products that have higher concentrations of AHAs aren't good for truly sensitive skin.
AHAs are good for restoring the pH balance across your skin so are good for combination skin.
What skin results can I expect from using an AHA?
This massively depends on the AHAs you use and at what concentration. Just like any active ingredient, getting the combination of the right ingredients for your skin type and also the right concentration is key to seeing results. Dermalogica’s brand new Rapid Reveal Peel uses a combination of AHAs and fruit enzymes to provide their most powerful at home exfoliation peel. Within 8 weeks of use you can expect to have bright skin that is firmer and retextured.
What are the AHAs in Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel?
As we just mentioned there is a brand new Dermalogica chemical exfoliator at-home peel, Rapid Reveal Peel. This is a brilliant new product for ageing skin to help restore that glow and resurface the skin. It’s got three fabulous AHA ingredients:
Lactic Acid - the Lactic Acid in Rapid Reveal Peel has a low pH of 3 and is at 10% concentrate. This makes it a really effective but non-invasive exfoliator for the deeper layers of the stratum corneum. It also stimulates cell turnover and renewal leaving your skin firmer and brighter.
Microcitrus Australasica (Australian Caviar Lime) Extract - this is a citric acid from the Caviar Lime, which gets its name from its pulp which consists of tiny translucent pearls in different multicoloured shades. It works to increase cell turnover at the epidermal level and desquamation.
Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract - This is a high source of Phytic Acid, a gentle but highly effective gentle AHA that is an antioxidant, which helps to treat hyperpigmentation.
What will happen to my skin when I exfoliate with Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel?
The Rapid Reveal Peel is a chemical exfoliator. When we think of exfoliants we often think of physical exfoliators, with beads or particles that are rough on the skin and actually work to loosen skin cells. Chemical exfoliators work by loosening the connections between skin cells giving instant exfoliation that you can’t feel in the same way.
The name chemical peel can sound scary! You absolutely won’t see any physical ‘peel’ effects. That’s because your skin cells are tiny. In fact you shed about 30,000 daily anyway and don’t see them!
So what is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a way of exfoliating by using AHAs and enzymes to break down the connections that glue cells together. The result is that the cells are then free to shed. This causes the process of cell turnover to be super-charged, leaving your skin feeling brighter and firmer.
Is a chemical peel safe for my skin?
Chemical peels are designed to temporarily remove the superficial layers of the skin to stimulate cell turnover and boost skin renewal. As peels are a form of controlled inflammation there can be a period of time post the peel where the skin is tight, red, peeling or sensitive. These symptoms are what we refer to as ‘downtime’. When you have a professional peel, that’s a treatment from a skincare therapist, you may have some ‘downtime’.
With Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel you won’t experience any of these temporary skin responses after use. That’s because the concentrations are safe enough to use at home. The Rapid Reveal Peel has been developed by dedicated skin care specialists who have worked tirelessly to create an effective product that is safe for you to use at home. While you could go online and get a cheaper AHA product, or one with a higher concentration, this could have a damaging effect on your skin.
How often should I use Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel?
You should use the Peel once a week, ideally in the evening. This is because your skin can be extra sensitive to sun exposure after use. You should gently massage it into the skin and leave to work for 3-7 minutes. After this you can rinse with cold water or take off with a wet, clean face cloth. There’s no need to physically exfoliate when using the RRP.
To get an extra boost at the start, Dermalogica also recommend you use the RRP for 3 consecutive nights at the start, then go to once a week. This is only if you have used chemical exfoliators before.
Ready to try AHAs on your skin?
If you are ready to try the active ingredient Cleopatra was using thousands of years ago, and that still is great for your skin today, Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel is the strongest chemical exfoliator that is available for at-home use.
If you’re not quite ready to try Rapid Reveal Peel, why not check out the other exfoliators Dermalogica offer on our website here: