Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) are one of the most effective anti-aging skin care ingredients available to us, today. Therefore, it’s not surprising that most high-end skin care and cosmetic products contain small concentrations of AHA. Over-the-counter AHA products must contain concentrations of less than 10% AHA. Products containing higher concentrations of AHA, such as 30% to 50%, are classified as “chemicals peels” and must be administered by trained professionals.

The popularity of OTC AHA products is mostly based on the fact that even small doses of Alpha Hydroxy Acids have been clinically proven to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles, due to aging and sun damage, as well as both prevent and dramatically reduce the look of stretch marks.

The downside of using OTC AHA products is that the daily use of these products can greatly increase the likelihood of skin irritation. The most effective way to use AHA products, and reduce the likelihood of skin irritation, is to use OTC AHA products that contain a moisturizer base and a sunscreen with an SPF of 25.

The Different Types of Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is one of the most commonly used Alpha Hydroxy Acids in skin care. It is derived naturally from sugar cane juice. Glycolic acid has a very small molecular size. This small molecular size allows glycolic acid to penetrate the layers of the skin, fast, and loosen the glue that binds dead skin cells to healthy skin cells, thus helping to reveal the younger, more radiant skin cells. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Glycolic acid is highly effective at helping to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

Glycolic acid is often used in acne products because this AHA has the unique ability to prevent the production of excess surface oil on the skin. Best of all, unlike most acne products, this AHA keeps the skin moisturized by keeping water bound to the skin. It may also help “bleach” away surface acne scars, dark spots (brought on as a result of sun damage) or age spots.

Lactic Acid

As most of you know, lactic acid is derived from milk. The effectiveness of lactic acid is the reason why milk baths and yogurt facials have been so popular for centuries. Lactic acid is a highly effective skin moisturizer and gentle exfoliant. Lactic acid is generally used in combination with other AHA in anti-aging skin care products.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is one of the most effective Alpha Hydroxy Acids known to man. Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits and thus is highly abrasive and must be used cautiously and followed with sunscreen. Citric acid, when applied to the skin, helps accelerate collagen production and “bleach away” dark spots. Unfortunately, Citric acid is not a good exfoliant. But, it is a great antioxidant, as it helps neutralize free radicals that age the skin.

Malic Acid and Tartaric Acids

Malic acid and Tartaric acid are Alpha Hydroxy Acids that are not commonly used in anti-aging skin care products but are added to skin bleaching products, in combination with other AHA, to create a specific desired effect. The main reason for this is because when applied topically these two AHA cause skin redness and irritation, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

Author's Bio: 

Paulin Soleyman is the founder of the Miss Body Butter line of all-natural skin care products. Miss Body Butter's hand crafted body butters, salt scrubs and sugar scrubs are carefully formulated using the finest natural ingredients available in nature, to moisturize, nourish, scent and pamper your skin.

Miss Body Butter products are free of the following synthetic ingredients: Phthalates, mineral oils, petrochemicals, silicone, synthetic dyes, sulfates, parabens, artificial colors and fragrances, polyethylene glycol, Paba and are never tested on animals!