Even though alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA) are easily and widely available, all users of these acids must know certain facts about these products.
Though sold to consumers mainly as facial and body creams and lotions, AHAs are now also found in other cosmetics, such as shampoos and cuticle softeners.
AHA products are easily available in most pharmacies and cosmetic stores. The price of AHA products is variable ranging from $ 5-80 a bottle. Almost all stores offer a gimmick like "Buy one, get the other free".
AHA based cosmetics function as skin peeling agents and have been widely used by both dermatologist and cosmetic health care professionals. The typical acids contained within these products include
- trichloroacetic acid
- salicylic acid
Each of these products has been hyped to treat
- skin pigmentation disorders
- skin texture
- erase fine lines and wrinkles
- remove acne scars
- photo aged skin
These peeling agents act by removing the top layers of the dead skin and replace it with softer, smoother and fresh looking skin. Chemical peeling can be performed at home or by a technician at a health spa
In 1997, the Cosmetic industry's regulating body concluded that the AHA's glycolic acid and lactic acid and their related chemical compounds are safe for use in products intended for consumer use when:
- the AHA concentration is less than 10%
- the product has a pH of 3.5 or greater (higher numbers indicate less acidity)
- all products inform the public about AHA use and avoidance of sun and the use of sunscreens
AHA products used by physicians as peeling agents have a much higher concentration ranging anywhere from 30-60%.
Sun: After using AHA, the sun must be avoided because these products make the skin hypersensitive to the UV rays which can result in severe sun burn
Sunscreens. It is highly recommended that all individual who use these products use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20. In addition, a hat and clothing to covering the arms, shoulders and neck is high advisable.
There are 100s of products on the cosmetic market which claim to have AHA. Before buying any such product, read the label and check out the ingredients. The concentration of AHA and the pH of the product must be listed on all valid products.
It is recommended that to obtain benefits from aha acids, one should buy products that contain less than 10% of AHA and have a pH of 3.5 or greater.
All first time users of the AHA products must perform a skin test to determine if they have an allergy to the product. In an allergy is present, an alternate product must be used
Some individuals may develop severe burning, pain, or itching after the use of the AHA products.
Anyone show develops an adverse reaction to a AHA product, should refrain from using that product again