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What exactly is AHA and what is the HYPE around this chemical?

What exactly is AHA and what is the HYPE around this chemical?

There is a whole buzz around the world of skin care and the new age of chemical exfoliants!

The internet is buzzing with shops stocking The Ordinary and The Inkey List AHA/BHA peels and people can’t stop to put their hands on them, but what really are we putting into our skin? The hype and trend of these Skincare serums has blinded us from the actual education of the right skincare for our skin?

We have decided to sit down and educate you with the ingredients you put on your faces in the name of trends and reviews. There is only little information around in our mainstream media that helps us identify our skins individual needs. Some skin maybe sensitive, some tough and some bare both these tendencies. Here is a little run down on our first favorite Acid!


Alpha Hydroxy Acid also often known as AHA is an acid derived from plant extracts which is water soluble in nature. This Acid is considered as an effective chemical exfoliator, which means it is an active ingredient that allows plant-based enzymes and acids to buff away dead skins without causing friction in the skin like physical exfoliants do. AHA Peels are often used to promote collagen growth, healing hyperpigmentation, scars and dark spots. Other benefits may include Resurfacing benefits like improving wrinkles and prevents acne.

Glycolic Acid is one of the acids that people are familiar with when they hear AHAs. The truth is AHAs are more than just Glycolic Acids. Unlike Beta Hydroxy Acids, AHAs are multiple in nature. While BHA is synonym to Salicylic Acid, AHA can be categorized and extracted from varies sources;

  • Citric Acid derived from Citrus fruits
  • Glycolic Acid derived by Sugarcanes
  • Lactic Acid derived by Lactose
  • Malic Acid by other fruits
  • Tartaric Acid by grapes
  • Hydroxycaprioc from Royal Jellies
  • Hydroxy caprylic Acid from Animals

While there are many sources of extracting AHAs researches have proved Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acids as the most efficient and effective source for AHA Chemical peels. Hence you will most likely find either of these Acids in your skincare products.


Its is very important to remember the following notes when it comes to usage of AHAs in your skincare.

There is are a lot of products out there in the market sold with a high concentration rate for AHA serums or related products.

“The first rule of thumb is to avoid any AHA related products that have a concentration level above 15%”

A lot of people refer to over-hyped products that have extremely high level of AHA concentration in them. It is important to do a little research before you apply anything to your skin, as chemical exfoliants can have adverse reactions to the skin.

“Always test patch first!”

Before taking a huge step with experimenting with your skin or going with the trend make sure to consult a dermatologist or a skin specialist regarding your concerns and try a test patch first to see if there are any reactions to the skin with the certain concentration you are going to use.

Avoid going into the sun after Chemical peels”

It is important to know what things or products can affect your skin after applying a Chemical Peel. Your skin is at the most vulnerable stage after chemical peels, it is super important and vital that you avoid any heat or sun after using AHAs/BHAs. In fact, the most sensible and necessary step after usage of Chemical Peels is to apply a generous amount of Sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from burning.

“Following the important things to avoid after Chemical Peels is that you know what products you SHOULD NOT use after a Chemical Peel”

It is important to avoid any products that may have an exfoliating effect on your skin. For instance, Hydroxy acids should not be paired with Retinol serum at all in the same day. Using these in the same skincare regime may cause extreme sensitivity along with irritation and redness on your skin, and may not prove to be an effective use of skincare chemicals for your skin. Likewise, using Vitamin C serum after AHA/BHA peels may disturb PH Levels, and Vitamin C (Citric acid) on its own has a slight exfoliating effect which may also increase sensitivity or may cause reaction on your skin.

“Use Hyaluronic Acid with your AHAs!”

It is vital to use products with Hyaluronic Acid in them to boost skin hydration and moisturization after a chemical peel to soothe the skin and protect from sun damage.  A well moisturized skin is less prone to sun burns and damages.

AHAs also promote healthy absorption of products used after usage, hence using hyaluronic acid will give more hydration to your skin!

“Always use BHAs Before AHAs

A simple logic to this step is that BHA’s are oil soluble and should be used before water soluble products like AHA’s. Because oil attracts oil and like double cleansing, oil-based cleansers are used first as it goes deep into the skin, then it is advised to follow it up with water-based cleanser/serum.

“Always start from small concentrations and the move to stronger concentrations”

What most people don’t understand about Acid usage is that one should not start a chemical peel with a higher concentration in the very beginning. Make sure to use a concentration that would not irritate the skin as both AHAs and BHAs are exfoliants, Referring to the FDA rules BHAs not more than 2% and AHA’s no more than 15%. It is also advised to start from small concentrations and then move to higher concentrations.

*This information provided may not be whole but wholesome in order to identify your skin problems, hence it is advised to visit your dermatologist for further clarification*

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