AHAs, BHAs and PHAs
Exfoliators come in three different types; AHAs, Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs). They work together to minimise acne, erase pigmentation and blur fine lines. 'Their difference lies within their molecular structure,' explains Daniel Issacs. 'The molecules that make up PHAs are much larger in size, which means they cannot penetrate skin as deeply as traditional AHAs and BHAs. Instead, they work exclusively on the skin's surface without disturbing the delicate layers that lie beneath. This ensures optimum skin renewal with minimal irritation.'
AHAs and BHAs work to penetrate deeply into your skin to break down the bonds between your skin and dead skin cells. These acids are formulated in a very narrow pH range between 3 and 4. They encourage your skin to naturally shed and can leave you skin looking beautiful, soft and hydrated.
Glycolic Acid is one of a group of liquid exfoliators called Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). They’ve become increasingly popular over the years because of their ability to exfoliate the skin without leaving it feeling overexposed like harsh scrubs. Other AHAs include acids such as Lactic Acid and Mandelic Acid. It's a naturally occurring substance, Glycolic Acid and other AHAs are derived from plants such as sugar cane and milk.
Glycolic Acid in particular can be found in chemical peels and has been known to help treat conditions such as Psoriasis, Melasma and Seborrheic Keratosis. It’s been known as the ‘holy grail’ for exfoliation as it can effectively remove the outermost layers of dead cells from your complexion leaving it brighter and fresher.
It works to transfer water molecules from the air into your skin replenishing lost moisture, making it an effective ingredient moisturiser when used at low strengths. It has suggested that the ideal percentage of Glycolic Acid in face wash is between 8-30%. Dr. Melda Isaac, a board-certified dermatologist based in Washington, D.C., says that Glycolic has the ability to really get down into the hair follicles and loosen up any built-up sebum and proteins that could otherwise lead to blackheads and breakouts.
There are many benefits to including Glycolic Acid, however due to the fact that this exfoliator encourages your skin to shed, it’s possible that your skin could become more photosensitive than normal. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you use an SPF on your skin everyday when you use any AHA on your skin.
If you’re interested in using Glycolic Acid in your skincare routine. You can find it in the following products: