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Alpha & Beta-Hydroxy Acids

Alpha & Beta-Hydroxy Acids

August 12, 2017

Exfoliation is vital to skin health, yet it is often forgotten when developing a skin care regimen.

Exfoliation is the action of using mechanical (micro beads, cornmeal, pumice) or chemical (AHA’s) means to aid in skin cell shedding from the epidermis (outmost layer).  Skin cells are constantly regenerated, with new skin cells created in the dermis and old, dead skin cells shed from the epidermis. This process keeps skin clean and smooth, helps prevent pore clogging, and reduces acne breakouts.

How can exfoliation improve your skin?

  • Removes dead, dry skin cells to reveal healthy, smoother skin below.
  • Supports healthy skin cell function by increasing the rate of epidermal cell turnover.
  • Helps prevent the buildup of old cells associated with clogged pores and acne.
  • Helps fade discolorations, having more or an even skin tone.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acidsare naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars from particular plants. Some examples are Glycolic Acid (sugar cane), Lactic Acid (ours is vegetable based), Tartaric Acid (grapes), Citric Acid (citrus fruits), Malic Acid (apples), and Mandelic Acid (bitter almonds). These acids work because their molecules are small enough (glycolic being the smallest) to penetrate the epidermis and reach the dermis layer.  By dissolving the cement holding dead skin cells together, they promote cell turnover by sloughing off dull, rough surface skin. Continued use results in softer, smoother skin, faded wrinkles, lightened skin discolorations, and decreased blemishes.

Beta-Hydroxy Acids (specifically Salicylic Acid) is the acid of choice to treat acne because of its unique ability to penetrate the follicle and trigger the shedding of clogged debris. Continued use keeps the pores clear, resulting in a reduction of blockages and breakouts.

The difference between Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids is their lipid (oil) solubility. Beta hydroxy acid is lipid soluble and alpha hydroxy is water soluble.   Because of this difference in properties, beta hydroxy acid is more effective on oily skin with blackheads and whiteheads because it can penetrate the sebum within a pore and exfoliate the dead skin cells inside.  Thus, the water-only soluble alpha hydroxy acids are effective on thickened, sun-damaged skin.  When both are formulated together they work in synergy to help with acne and clogged pores.

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