Skin Care and Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Skin Care and Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), are a class of chemical compounds that consist of a carboxylic acid substituted with a hydroxyl group on the adjacent carbon. AHAs are well known for their use in the cosmetics industry. They are often found in products that aid in the reduction of wrinkles as well as to soften strong, defining lines and improve the overall look and feel of the skin. They are also used as chemical peels available in a dermatologist’s office, beauty and health spas and home kits, which usually contain a lower concentration of around 4%. Effective results through continuous treatment have resulted in AHAs being a successful & developmental method of curbing harsh ageing effects in the skin.

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of natural acids found in foods. Alpha hydroxy acids include citric acid (found in citrus fruits), glycolic acid (found in sugar cane), lactic acid (found in sour milk), malic acid (found in apples), tartaric acid (found in grapes)

Hydroxy Acids are some of the most widely used and studied anti-aging skincare ingredients. Clinical studies have shown just how effective these ingredients are in reversing the effects of photoaging and significantly improving wrinkles, skin hydration,
elasticity and tone.
At Naturopathica, we employ these powerful and effective Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids in our treatment products. These ingredients are used at active levels to deliver the skincare benefits supported by clinical evidence.

How does it work?

Alpha hydroxy acids seem to work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. They can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness.


Hydroxy acids play a major role in skin care and dermatology therapy, with their popularity continuing to rise as research into what causes wrinkles and the effects of photoaging advances. There are two types of hydroxy acids- alpha and beta. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are naturally occurring carboxylic acids found in many foods, including glycolic acid (sugar cane), lactic acid (milk), citric acid (citrus fruits), and malic acid (apples) among others. The most commonly used alpha-hydroxy acids are glycolic and lactic acids.

AHAs act on both the epidermal and the dermal levels. When applied to the skin, AHAs stimulate the exfoliation of epidermal cells in the stratum corneum (s.c.) by interfering with the ionic bonding between these cells. This results in the sloughing off dull, rough skin and promotes cellular renewal. 1 Initially used for treatment of hyperkeratosis and other skin conditions affecting s.c. turnover, AHAs were found to promote softer, smoother skin, faded wrinkles, lightened age spots, and decreased blemishes.2,3
Further studies have shown AHAs to improve the s.c. barrier function, increase epidermal proliferation and thickness, and restore hydration and plumpness through an increase in hyaluronic acid. 4 AHAs are also able to travel deeper into the dermis where they are shown to effectively reverse the signs of photoaging.5 Research has found AHAs to increase acid mucopolysaccharides, improve the quality of elastic fibers, increase collagen density, and increase dermal thickness. They also promote increased gene expression of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the dermis.6-9 These effects result in a significant
improvement in wrinkles, skin hydration, and dermal mechanical properties such as skin elasticity and tone.

Safety and Efficacy

Higher concentrations of AHAs, though more active, can have an irritating effect on the skin causing redness and inflammation. Newer formulations combine glycolic acid with an amino acid such as arginine and form a time-release system that reduces the risk of irritation without affecting glycolic acid efficacy.

The FDA has established that AHAs are safe in cosmetic products at concentrations of 10% or less, at a pH of 3.5 or greater and formulated to avoid increasing the skin’s sensitivity to the sun or accompanied by directions to use sun protection daily. These can be used daily and tolerated by most except very sensitive skin types. Stronger formulations of AHAs (concentrations up to 30% or more and a pH as low as 3.0) are safe if applied only by trained professionals. Such use should be brief, discontinuous, and followed by thorough rinsing and accompanied by directions to use sun protection daily. It is not just the percentage of AHAs that are important, but also the pH of the formulation. AHAs are more bioavailable and work best at their native lower pH.

Which Fruits Contain Alpha Hydroxy Acid

6 Natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids for Smoother Skin

1. Plain Yogurt

Yogurt contains lactic acid which is a natural AHA. I like to use organic, full-fat, plain yogurt for facial treatments. Simply apply to your skin, or mix with one of the fruits above and then apply to make a fruit smoothie anti-aging mask.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple is another great tropical exfoliating treat.blend fresh pineapple and apply the juice as a mask.

3. Papaya

Papaya is a delicious and effective exfoliating treat for the face. Of course you can crush papaya and apply to your face like a mask. Papaya  improving skin tone, they also contain papain, an enzyme that supports digestive health. Poor digestive health is attributed to a variety of problems from weight gain to acne.

4. Grapes

Grapes are one of the healthiest fruits because they contain resveratrol. Also found in red wine, resveratrol may play an important role in blood clotting and the prevention of cardiovascular disease and dementia.

5. Apple

Apples are great for people on the go because they can be stored just about anywhere without having to worry about temperature. Just one apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.


Naturally antimicrobial organic citrus toner from lemon improves complexion by lightening dark spots, promoting clearer skin and tightening pores.


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