Chapter 70: A Beginner’s Guide to Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)


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Once you’ve mastered the skin care basics, which include facial cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen, then it’s time to add exfoliants to your daily regimen. Chemical exfoliants such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) can get rid of dead skin cells, so it’s important to exfoliate at least once a week for healthy-looking, radiant skin.

Are you new to AHAs or aren’t sure where they fit in your routine? This guide tells you everything you need to know about AHAs:

What are AHAs?

AHAs are water-soluble acids that can be used to exfoliate the top layer of your skin. There are various types of AHAs commonly found in skin care products, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid and citric acid. These ingredients work to get rid of dead skin cell buildup on the skin’s surface to even out skin tone, refine skin texture and improve signs of aging. 

What are the benefits of using AHAs?

As AHAs work to slough away dead skin cells, your skin tone and texture improve over time. If you’re dealing with a bumpy or uneven skin texture, adding AHAs to your exfoliating routine will help with these skin care concerns. The exfoliant makes your complexion smoother, and it brightens skin. Need to tackle dark spots or hyperpigmentation? AHAs are the answer.

AHAs also boost skin’s collagen production, making them ideal for those who are beginning to notice fine lines and want to combat signs of aging. If you want an alternative to retinol, you can’t go wrong with AHAs. 

You can also use this ingredient to treat acne, especially if you’re dealing with comedones or clogged pores. AHAs can get rid of impurities trapped in your pores, and with continued use, it also helps prevent future breakouts.

How to use AHAs in your skin care routine 

AHAs increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so it’s best to use them in your nighttime routine. If you decide to incorporate this exfoliant in your morning routine, be sure to protect your skin with sunscreen.

AHAs can be used by all skin types. However, if your skin is sensitive, you should do a patch test first to avoid skin irritation. Those new to chemical exfoliants may start with a product that has a low percentage of acid and use it once a week. When your skin is used to the product, you can increase usage to two or three times a week. 

The best AHA products to try

COSRX

AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

For those who haven’t used AHA before, the COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner is a great option. The toner offers gentle exfoliation as it gets rid of dead skin cells to reveal smooth skin. Use it right after cleansing and before applying essence, serum or moisturizer.

SOME BY MI

AHA, BHA, PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner

SOME BY MI’s AHA, BHA, PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner is one of the most sought-after products from the brand. The miracle toner doesn’t just remove dead skin cells; it also nourishes skin, improves the appearance of enlarged pores, and calms redness. The formula may be packed with three different acids, but it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin. 

Beauty of Joseon

Green Plum AHA Bubble Toner

Featuring a low concentration of glycolic acid, the Green Plum AHA Bubble Toner from Beauty of Joseon effectively exfoliates skin and leaves you with a healthy-looking glow. With green plum water, glycolic acid and honey extract as its key ingredients, the toner hydrates skin and reveals a bright complexion, as long as you use it consistently. 

Isntree

Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence

If your skin is used to AHAs, then you won’t have a problem with Isntree’s Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence. This powerful exfoliant unclogs pores and soothes skin, thanks to the mulberry root and centella asiatica extracts in its formula. For those with dull skin, the AHA essence helps transform a lackluster complexion into bright and radiant skin. 

PURITO

AHA BHA Refreshing Solution

PURITO’s AHA BHA Refreshing Solution is perfect for oily skin. The glycolic acid brightens skin and gets rid of dead skin cells, while the salicylic acid takes care of clogged pores and active breakouts. To prevent over-exfoliation, use the solution once or twice a week. Avoid mixing it with other active ingredients such as retinol or Vitamin C or you may risk irritating your skin.

Nacific

Pink AHA BHA Cream

Do you prefer having AHA in your moisturizer? Nacific has the perfect product for that. In addition to AHA and BHA, the Pink AHA BHA Cream is packed with watermelon extract and hyaluronic acid to boost skin’s moisture levels and improve skin tone and texture. Its gel-cream texture is lightweight enough to use during the day. Make sure to apply SPF afterwards!

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