The treatment of wrinkles has not gone unnoticed by the cosmetic industry and everyone is promoting a wide variety of products. One such product is formulations containing alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Alpha Hydroxy acids are found in a variety of skin care products including moisturizers, cleansers, eye creams, lotions and bases. The AHA products are recommended to keep the skin moist, reduce sun damage, smoothen the skin, alter the skin complexion and texture.
Alpha Hydroxy acid is a general name given to a variety of mild acids such as:
- lactic acid (found in milk)
- malic acid (found in apples)
- citric acid (found in oranges)
- glycolic acid (found in sugar care)
- tartaric acid (found in grapes)
AHA are water soluble products and are best used on thick sun damaged skin. These products do not work well on oily skin.
AHA products act as detergents (peeling agents) and help to loosen up the dead skin on the surface of the skin. This exfoliant ability helps maintain the skin fresh. There are also some who suggest that these acids may help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
In commercial preparations a combination of both lactic and glycolic acids is available. The concentration of acids in over the counter preparations may vary from 2-10%. Prescription AHA products of these acids may vary in concentration from 10-70%
The AHA can be used as chemical peels and the results obtained are similar to what is seen after microdermabrasion. AHA are best for the very fine wrinkles. Most individuals require anywhere from 2-4 treatment sessions. Each treatment session is spaced over a period of a few weeks.
AHA is only a temporary solution to erase wrinkles. The weaker concentration acids have to be repeated 2-3 times a year and the higher concentration acids may have a longer lasting affect from 1-3 years.
When used in low concentration, these acids are very weak peeling agents but at higher concentration, these acids are potent peeling agent and side effects are common. The typical side effects of higher concentration acids include:
- burning pain
- skin discoloration
- sun sensitivity
For those wanting to try AHA products for home use, concentrations less than 10% are recommended. If any adverse reaction occurs, the product should be stopped immediately. Sun screens are a must after application of AHA products.