Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
| Alpha hydroxy acid is made from milk and fruit sugars and commonly used in creams and lotions. Its chemical properties are said to eliminate or reduce wrinkles, age spots and discoloration and sun damage. Although alpha hydroxy acid has its critics, many people believe that they make a significant impact on the appearance and health of their skin.|
Alpha hydroxy acid is derived from three basic compounds: glycolic acid, citric acid and lactic acid. Glycolic acid exfoliates, reduces blemishes, smooths the skin, among other benefits. It is the most effective but can be the harshest as well. Citric acid is an antioxidant, and lactic acid is effective at holding moisture in the skin. All three types stimulate collagen production, which makes the skin more elastic and appear more youthful. Manufacturers will often combine alpha hydroxy acid to get the desired effects.
Collagen is a protein that makes up 80 percent of the dry weight of our skin to strengthen it and give it elasticity. Over time, the collagen in our systems degrades due to sunlight, disease and other environmental factors. When collagen becomes less effective, then the cells making up the skin become dry and less elastic causing wrinkles, uneven coloring and sagging.
While alpha hydroxy acid doesn't actually eliminate wrinkles, it can reduce finer lines. Glycolic acid usually is the primary ingredient in alpha hydroxy acid creams advertised as wrinkle removers, but sometimes it is mixed with other alpha hydroxy acids to reduce drying. They reduce lines by dissolving the dead skin on the top layer of skin. While most wrinkle creams are sold over-the-counter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administratoin has approved several cremes for prescription use.
There is no doubt that the sun can severely damage the skin. Prolonged exposure can result in uneven skin tone, reduced collagen production, wrinkles and skin cancer. The use of alpha hydroxy acid is especially useful in evening skin tone and the reduction of fine lines due to sun damage. Doctors recommend that you wear a sunscreen both before and after the application of alpha hydroxy acid to reduce further damage.
Although alpha hydroxy acid is generally safe to use, there are certain side effects. It can cause sun sensitivity, so either stay out of the sun completely or use an effective sunscreen. Some people can get rashes and reddening of the skin is common. Always use alpha hydroxy acid according to manufacturer's instructions and see your doctor if the redness lasts more than a few days or is painful or bleeding
Disclaimer: The information presented
herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not
been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or
prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements,
it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.