AHAs and BHAs for Proper Skin Care

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Why we need Proper Skin Care?

proper-skin-care-tipsAs most of the people try to look good and desire to have glowing, beautiful skin, taking proper care of their skin is necessary. Since our skin can suffer from various skin problems, we need to take skin care more seriously in order to alleviate the problems. To make our skin look its best, we need to ensure well-being of our precious skin. With aging, our body starts to become inactive. Our skin can also get affected significantly by the aging process. Therefore, you need proper skin care practice to prevent aging of your skin. There are numerous skincare products available which can be totally effective in providing proper skin care. To boost the re-nourishment and rejuvenation of your skin, you must incorporate a healthy standard of living along with the skin maintenance routine.

Importance of Skincare Products

Since skincare products are really important for our skin, we need to ensure that they consist of the right ingredients. The most common ingredients that exist in the skincare products are the hydroxy acids. These active ingredients help in reducing the manifestation of fine lines, improving acne, reducing discoloration of skin, and providing a radiant, healthy glow. The usage of hydroxy acids has been popular from time immemorial. The most frequently used hydroxy acids include a) Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs and b) Beta Hydroxy Acids or BHAs.

Know about Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs

The AHAs are the class of compounds which consist of one carboxylic acid that is substituted with one hydroxyl group. These compounds can either be synthetic or occur naturally. The AHAs are extensively used in cosmetics industry. The compounds are often included in the products which claim to reduce signs of aging or wrinkles, and improve the beauty of your skin in general. These chemical compounds are also utilized in the form of chemical peels, which are available in the beauty/health spas, home kits, or in the dermatologist’s office. Some of the commonly utilized AHAs include mandelic acid, lactic acid (exists in the sour milk), glycolic acid (exists in the sugar cane), tartaric acid (exists in the grapes), and citric acid (exists in the citrus fruits).

Different kinds of AHAs are applied topically in order to remove the dead skin cells, enhancing your photo-aged skin’s appearance, treating acne, improving the condition of acne scars, and smoothing or moisturizing the skin. These chemicals are also effective in treating skin darkening (melasma), an inherited disease accompanied with scaly, dry skin (ichthyosis), and extremely dry skin or xerosis. If these conditions prevail in pregnant women, they are known as “mask of pregnancy”. AHAs are very good in providing effective skin care because they help in removing top layers of the dead skin cells. The compounds also promote firmness of the deeper skin layers by increasing their thickness.

Uses of AHAs

Some of the possible uses of AHAs include the following:

  • When used topically in the form of a lotion or cream, AHAs are effective in treating sun damage. However, the AHA peels is not ideally suited for this purpose.
  • When applied in the form of a lotion or cream, AHAs can treat dry skin.
  • This compound is effective against acne when used topically in the form of a lotion or cream.
  • AHAs can treat acne scars if applied topically in the form of a lotion or facial peel. You can improve the condition of acne scars by applying glycolic acid in the form of a lotion or facial peel. It has been found that 70 percent glycolic acid in the form of peels work better than application of 15 percent glycolic acid in lotions. For those who cannot endure facial peels should opt for the 15 percent glycolic acid in lotions.
  • When malic acid, a specific AHA, is utilized together with magnesium, it can help to reduce the tenderness and pain caused by the condition called fibromyalgia.
  • The chemical compound can effectively cure the pigmentation that is associated with a certain skin disorder, known as melasma. People suffering from mixed-type and epidermal-type melasma can effectively lessen unwanted skin coloration by applying topically  10 percent glycolic acid in the form of lotions for about 2 weeks and then following it up with the facial peeling program that includes 50 percent glycolic acid. You can continue this peeling program for about 3 consecutive months.
  • Although we need more evidence about its effectiveness, AHA is also applied for treating ichthyosis. This is actually a skin disorder which causes scaly and dry skin.

Types of AHAs and their Uses

AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid mostly occurs in the following forms:

  • Glycolic acid: This kind of AHA is the most common and has small molecular structure. It can be utilized as an effective ingredient in the skincare products. Although it is effective, it can be irritating. Individuals, who are new to the AHA products, should apply this compound in low concentrations – 8-10 percent. There are various glycolic acid products available which can be little humectant in nature.
  • Lactic acid: This kind of AHA is also used in abundance. These compounds usually have larger molecular structure than glycolic acid. Lactic acid is usually obtained from milk. This chemical compound can be effective for those with sensitive skin. People having rosacean skin can easily opt for the lactic acid products. Just like the glycolic acid products, lactic acid products are humectant in nature.
  • Mandelic acid: Although this compound is the least common AHA type, it is the preferred choice for those who are suffering from acne. Unlike glycolic acid, this chemical compound requires more time to work effectively on skin and it is less irritating. The compound has large molecular structure and it features anti-microbial or anti-bacterial properties. Bitter almonds are the primary source of this chemical compound. Like other AHAs, this compound is moderately humectant in nature.
  • Citric acid: This AHA is commonly used for adjusting the pH in skincare products. This ingredient is added to enhance the effectiveness of skincare products. FDA allows the inclusion of this compound in the products without having to list them on the packaging. This AHA type is often present in skincare products like moisturizers, toners, soaps, and cleansers. This class of AHA can be used for exfoliating your complexion. This compound, when applied topically, is capable of splitting down protein bonds linking living and dead skin cells. This helps to shed the old and dead skin cells. People affected by enlarged pores or acnes can utilize citric acid products to remove dead cells which clog the pores.
  • Tartaric acid: This AHA type is a well-known compound in the skincare and cosmetics industry. This compound is frequently utilized as an important ingredient in different cosmetic or personal care products like anti-aging products, sun protection products, hair conditioners, shampoos, skin toners, and facial moisturizers. This compound is neither basic nor acidic. Therefore, it is normally used as pH adjuster in cosmetics or personal care products. This class of AHA has exfoliating properties and it also helps to hydrate your skin. This compound makes your skin more translucent and smoother by helping in shedding dead and old skin cells. It can also effectively prevent the aging effects by stimulating collagen production.

Dosing of AHA

Alpha-Hydroxy-AcidsIn order to treat aged and wrinkled skin, it is advisable to utilize AHA products having glycolic acid, gluconolactone, tartaric acid, or lactic acid in 8 percent concentration. Gluconolactone can also be used in 14 percent solution. The products are generally applied twice daily to the skin. Those who are suffering from scars of acne can use facial peels containing glycolic acid for improving the condition. The peels should be applied in increasing strength (20 percent, 35 percent, 50 percent, and 70 percent). People, who do not wish to use the facial peels, are advised to utilize the 15 percent glycolic acid in lotion. You can utilize 10 percent glycolic acid in lotion to lighten the brown patches associated with melasma. This lotion should be used for 2 weeks.

Know about Beta Hydroxy Acids or BHAs

The BHAs are those organic compounds which consist of hydroxy functional group and one carboxylic functional group. These groups are divided by 2 carbon atoms. This class of compounds is normally used in cosmetics and personal skincare products. Salicylic acid is the best-known BHA that is often utilized as the important ingredient in skincare products. BHAs have the amazing ability to penetrate into pores and are ideal for those who have oily skin and are prone to acne. The BHAs can help you in reducing the excess oil on the skin surface and also in removal of the blackheads.

BHAs or beta hydroxy acids are excellent exfoliants. They cause the skin to become “unglued” and thereby facilitate the shedding of dead or old skin cells. This helps in the re-growth or regeneration of new skin. By topically using the BHAs regularly for 6 months, you can easily improve mottled pigmentation, roughness, and wrinkling of photo-damaged skin. It has been observed that BHA products are most effective at pH 3-4 and in concentration of 1-2 percent.

BHAs and Sun Sensitivity

Although BHAs are considered effective in preventing the damage of photo-aging, it has also been observed that BHAs increase sun sensitivity. Therefore, many dermatologists and doctors prescribe their patients BHA products along with a good sunscreen containing UVA or UVB protection.

BHA and Irritation

Although BHAs penetrate deeper into pores, they are less irritating than the AHAs. This is mainly because salicylic acid, the abundant BHA, is obtained from aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid. Salicylic acid features all the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin. In spite of having such properties, BHAs can cause skin irritation. Some of the symptoms associated with skin irritation include scarring, pain, itching, burning, and redness. People having darker complexion are at greater risks of scarring with the BHAs.

Important Guidelines about using BHA products

The BHAs or beta hydroxy acids are normally found in various skincare products like sunscreen, eye cream, cleansers, moisturizers, and foundations. Here we share some guidelines about the right formulation of hydroxy acid that should be used.

  • The BHA should be used in a single moisturizer base. This combination of products is often considered as the best.
  • Since BHAs need to be absorbed in skin, cleansers containing BHA are not usually effective. The absorption process takes time and the cleansers are generally washed off prior to the completion of the absorption process.
  • At the moment, there are no products which combine sunscreen and beta hydroxy acid effectively. This is mainly because sunscreen is unstable at the pH which is required to make BHA effective.
  • People using BHA products should liberally apply a good quality sunscreen. For providing UVB protection, the sunscreen should be at least SPF 15. For providing UVA protection, the sunscreen should consist of zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and avobenzone.
  • The BHA products are most effective at pH 3-4 and in concentrations of 1-2 percent.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic AcidThis chemical compound is actually the most frequently used beta hydroxy acid in the cosmetics and personal care product industry. Just like other BHAs, the salicylic acid can be effectively used in the treatment of various skin disorders like warts, ichthyosis, acanthosis nigricans, keratosis pilaris, corns, calluses, psoriasis, acne, and seborrhoeic dermatitis. In order to treat calluses, you must apply petroleum jelly containing salicylic acid in 6 percent concentration. After keeping it for one hour, you need to wash it off. Salicylic acid acts as a comedolytic, bacteriostatic, and keratolytic agent. It causes the old or dead epidermis cells to shed readily. This kind of BHA is useful in preventing pores from getting clogged, opening of clogged pores, promoting cell growth, and neutralizing bacteria.

The key difference between BHAs and AHAs lies in their lipid solubility. The BHAs are lipid soluble, while the AHAs are water soluble. The BHAs are effective for those people who have oily skin with whiteheads and blackheads. On the other hand, AHAs are suitable for sun-damaged and thickened skin.

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