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Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs are an essential ingredient in any anti-aging skincare routine due to their ability to help exfoliate away dull, dead skin cells to make room for smoother, younger-looking skin to be revealed in its place.

In this article, we’ll cover the subject of alpha hydroxy acids in depth, discussing what they are and the benefits they provide for your skin. We’ll also provide some tips for shopping for skincare products made with AHAs.

What Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?

Alpha hydroxy acids have a long history of use for skin care. These acids date all the way back to ancient Egypt when Cleopatra herself bathed in milk for its skin-rejuvenating benefits. Today, AHAs are a common additive to skin care products, including cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and masks.

Where do AHAs come from, and what are they?

Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from the natural sugars found in fruit and milk. They are a group of naturally occurring acids that, when formulated properly, have the ability to exfoliate and penetrate the uppermost layers of the skin. The result is smoother, fresher, and more hydrated skin that also becomes firmer over time. Lactic acid and glycolic acid are the two most commonly used for skin because they have a unique ability to penetrate the skin, delivering results below the skin’s surface. These are also the AHAs that have the most scientific evidence to support their benefits.

How Do AHAs Benefit the Skin?

The primary function of AHAs in skin care products is exfoliation. Alpha hydroxy acids cause the cells in the uppermost layer of skin (the epidermis) to loosen and slough off, revealing younger-looking skin beneath. They can also stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in the skin cells, which aids in revealing fresh, vibrant skin.

In addition to exfoliating the skin, AHAs are reported to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as improving rough skin texture and mottled pigment with continued use. They can be found in a variety of concentrations in retail skin care products but tend to work best in concentrations ranging from 5% to 8% with pH values between 3.0 and 4.0.

Though AHAs provide a wide variety of benefits for the skin, they can increase skin irritation and sun sensitivity. Because of this, it is very important to always apply an SPF when going outdoors.

What is interesting about this is the fact that AHAs can reverse some of the damage caused by UV exposure but, at the same time, makes the skin more susceptible to these effects. The lesson to take away is that skin care products containing AHAs need to be used in conjunction with sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, such as Yon-Ka’s SPF 50 and SPF 25.

What to Look for in Skin Care Products with AHAs

Alpha hydroxy acids can be found in a variety of natural plant materials, which is why it makes for a perfect addition to our products. Most AHAs are used in combination, and their specific benefits depend on the concentration.

When shopping for skincare products containing AHAs, pay attention to what products they’re being used in. Though AHAs can be found in cleansers, moisturizers, foundations, and eye contours, it is best to use them in your primary exfoliant  to exfoliate and smooth the skin. Moisturizers  and eye contours containing AHAs can also be beneficial, but cleansers are not very effective because AHAs need to be absorbed into the skin for the maximum benefit. Make sure to use your AHA products as directed, and not overuse them to avoid irritation and inflaming the skin.

Yon-Ka Paris is a luxury skin care brand that offers several product lines featuring AHAs. Here is a quick overview of some of the AHAs you’ll find in Yon-Ka Paris skin care products and where they come from:

Citric Acid – Derived from citrus fruits, citric acid has a low pH. It works as an antioxidant and pH-adjuster or, in high concentrations, as an exfoliant.

Glycolic Acid – The gold standard in AHAs, glycolic acid is found naturally in foods like sugar cane, pineapple, and maple. Glycolic acid penetrates the uppermost layers of skin to reveal the healthy, younger-looking skin beneath while also “teaching” the skin to retain more moisture.

Lactic Acid – Sourced from bilberry and passion fruit, lactic acid performs a similar role to glycolic acid, but its ability to penetrate the skin is somewhat limited by the size of the molecules. In low concentrations, it hydrates the skin and, in higher concentrations, acts as an exfoliant. This acid can be derived from milk, but other forms are more stable.

Tartaric Acid – Found in grapes, tartaric acid molecules are nearly twice the size of glycolic acid molecules. Though it can exfoliate when used in similar concentrations, it is best used to maintain the proper pH level of skin to allow other AHAs to deliver their maximum benefit.

Malic Acid – Derived from apples and pears, malic acid molecules are larger than glycolic and lactic acid molecules but still provide antioxidant and exfoliant benefits. It is best in concentrations of 1% to 2% and works well in combination with other AHAs.

If you’re looking for a top-quality skin care product featuring natural AHAs, Yon-Ka Paris has what you need. Our formulas feature multi-acid blends to provide an even, more uniform exfoliation with minimal irritation. We believe in healthy, gentle exfoliation that is progressive, not aggressive. This allows our products to deliver visible, consistent results that addresses specific skin issues while supporting the overall health and healthy appearance of the skin.

Product Recommendations from Yon-Ka Paris

Alpha Contour – Designed to visibly renew and smooth around the eyes while creating a cocoon of softness around the lips, this gel-textured eye and lip contour features a precision dosage of fruit acids combined with mimosa to rejuvenate the skin and activate cellular renewal for a boost of hydration and freshness.

Alpha Fluid – A smoothing, reviving treatment moisturizer for even the most sensitive skin, this hydrating fluid nourishes and revives the skin thanks to a well-balanced concentration of fruit acids and mimosa tenuiflora to improve the skin’s texture and tone for an even, radiant complexion.

Alpha Peel – This product offers exfoliating action to improve the skin’s quality night after night, leaving it bright and regenerated with redefined texture and reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It features powerful fruit acids with the smoothing effects of beech bud peptides and hyaluronic acid and aloe for hydration and radiance.

In addition to these skin care products, Yon-Ka Paris also offers exclusive, professional only products featuring alpha hydroxy acids. If you’re a skincare professional, Become a Member today to learn all the benefits of becoming a Yon-Ka Paris Partner.