AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, which is the name of a type of exfoliating acid that works to dissolve the bonds that hold dead cells onto the surface of skin, making it appear dull and lacklustre. The two most commonly used AHAs are glycolic and lactic. Glycolic is a really small molecule and this means it’s wonderful for refining and smoothing skin because it gets right in there and it’s also good for targeting hyperpigmentation. Lactic acid is a much bigger molecule, so while it’s still working to dissolve the bonds that keep dead skin cells clinging on, it’s less penetrative. It’s great if you’re new to acids or if your skin is sensitive. Lactic acid is also a humectant, which means it binds to water, so helps to keep skin hydrated as well as exfoliated. The world of AHAs can be quite a daunting one as there are a lot of options, but below we’ve picked out five of our favourites.
Inspired by Dr Dennis Gross’ professional peel treatment, this new and exciting two-step version can be used in the comfort of your own home. The first step contains pharmaceutical-grade concentrations of lactic and glycolic acid, which work to exfoliate and create smoother skin, while the second step contains centella asiatica, green tea extract and colloidal oatmeal to help neutralise, balance and soothe.
Infused with 12% alpha hydroxy acids, including glycolic, it helps to boost skin’s resilience and improve the skin barrier function – the surface of the skin that you always want to maintain. This night-time serum will get to work smoothing and polishing skin as it sleeps.
Revive and brighten the complexion with this multi-tasking moisturiser and mask that works to refine, clarify and rejuvenate, but without drying the skin. Formulated with both glycolic and lactic acid as well as prickly pear extract and purifying lemongrass, it sinks into skin and helps to remove debris while minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and unblocking pores.
This exfoliating mask contains skin strengthening omegas 3 and 7 as well as a nourishing blend of passionfruit, lemon, grape and pineapple extracts to revive a tired complexion. Lactic acid helps to slough off dead skin and after just ten minutes, skin tone is unified, pores minimised and fine lines less noticeable.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate an acid into your routine is by using a resurfacing face pad. These glycolic acid laced discs only take a second to use but bring multiple skincare benefits – perfect for the time-poor among us. Simply sweep these potent pads over your complexion to refine pores and reveal brighter, more radiant skin.