Alpha Hydroxy Acids in Skincare

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Alpha Hydroxy Acids in Skincare

Wondering what these fruit-derived natural acids do? We’ll be your guide –
plus the best acids for brighter, more youthful looking skin

Posted on October 5, 2022
Written by: 100% PURE

When it comes to the season hierarchy, fall reigns supreme with its
beautiful foliage and near-perfect temps, but it may leaf you
with some seasonal skin woes – specifically, a dull, lackluster
complexion. Skin dryness, the wet and windy elements, and an
accumulation of dead skin cells can have your skin not living
apple-y ever after.

It’s time to break out some winter skin warriors, like alpha hydroxy
acids! These natural, fruit-derived all-stars can turn tired, unhealthy
skin into a glowing, gourd-geous complexion that’s fall-proof.
In this post, we’ll be your guide on what alpha hydroxy acids do for
your skin, which acid best suits what skin type, and how to use these
beneficial ingredients for your skin.

What Do Alpha Hydroxy Acids Do to Your Face?

How cool is our skin?! It has the impressive ability to renew itself on
a regular basis, shedding dead cells to reveal more polished skin
beneath. Yet there are still times when we may need to offer our
wondrous skin some assistance, especially as it makes the transition
into the feats of fall, which can plague us with dry, lackluster

Enter alpha hydroxy acids at your assistance! AHAs for short are
fruit-derived natural acids that do an A-plus job at exfoliating your
skin at the cellular level, helping it to get rid of dead skin cells
that can clog your pores and dull your complexion.

You may not literally see dead skin being sloughed away when you use
this potent acid, but it’s definitely putting in work. This allows for
brighter, clearer skin; increased cell turnover; and deeper penetration
of skin care products. AHAs also help pore-clogging, which can result in
breakouts and acne.

What Alpha Hydroxy Acid Is Best?

The first step in choosing which acid is best is to understand what each
of these powerful acids do and what skin concerns they target. Though
most AHAs tend to be gentle, some are stronger than others, which can
sometimes lead to irritation or dryness, especially if you have finicky
skin. Check out the some of the best and most popular AHAs:

Glycolic Acid
Our anti-hyperpigmentation hero, this AHA is setting the standard as a
power-packed ingredient. Helping to slough away dead skin, reduce
breakouts, and diminish dark spots, this chemical exfoliant totally
gives our skin a super makeover in a single step. Common sources are
sugarcane and pineapple.

Mandelic Acid
While it is true that all AHAs lead to a fresher, brighter complexion,
mandelic acid, which is derived from fruits like cherries or almonds,
tends to be a crowd-pleaser with sensitive skin types due to its larger
molecular structure, which makes it gentler on skin as it penetrates
more slowly. Acneic skin types may benefit from its gentle exfoliating
and antibacterial properties.

Citric Acid
The name gives a bit away with this one; citric acid comes from our
favorite citrus fruits! It comes with all the AHA benefits of removing
dead skin, smoothing skin texture, and reducing breakouts and dark
spots. This zingy, zesty acid also has lots to offer in terms of
antioxidants, for protection against environmental toxins, and
antibacterial properties to help combat acne while exfoliating skin.

Lactic Acid
If you’re worried about skin irritation after trying a chemical
exfoliant, try lactic acid first. A beautifully brightening acid
commonly sourced from tomatoes or milk – but also available from vegan
sources like beets – this is one of the gentler AHAs out there. Look for
a radically improved skin texture, boosted glow, and enhanced skin
clarity and firmness with consistent use.

Malic Acid
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it can keep the dull skin
blues away, too. Malic acid is most commonly derived from, you guessed
it, apples, and it’s one of the more gentler acids out there. Not only
is it a great exfoliant–it’s also especially rich in antioxidants,
making it a great anti-aging ingredient in skincare products. Just as
you might want to add apples to your diet, don’t forget this apple acid
for smooth, glowy skin.

Speaking of apples, we have a powerful apple-fruit-derived cleanser that
works in harmony to unclog and minimize pores, even skin tone, and
brighten leaving you with super soft to the touch skin. Our
Apple Enzyme Exfoliating Cleanser
reveals glowing skin with our exfoliating cleanser made with green
apple, licorice, citrus and 7% acids.

Make sure to pair with our
Apple Enzyme Resurfacing Serum, which is made with skin brightening licorice, kojic acid from sake
(fermented rice), sugar alpha hydroxy acid, beet lactic acid and fruit
enzymes from pineapple, green apple, citrus and papaya. 10% of these
glow- enhancing actives work together for 4 main functions: brighten and
even skin tone; lighten scars and dark spots; expedite cellular turnover
to smooth away bumps and flakes for super soft, smooth skin; minimize
the appearance of pores.

Kojic Acid
Found in ingredients like sake (fermented rice water) and shiitake
mushroom, this acid is one of our favorite ingredients for lightening
dark spots and boosting radiance. While nowhere near as potent or active
as some of the acids higher up on this list, kojic acid shouldn’t be
overlooked in your brightening routine. It’s a safe daytime treatment,
featured as a natural byproduct in our
Fermented Rice Water Toner

Tartaric Acid
Found in fermented grapes and grape extracts, this lesser known AHA
offers benefits for fighting sun damage. It is most commonly used in
conjunction with other AHAs to increase its efficacy. Tartaric acid has
PH-balancing properties that can help soothe and heal inflammation. It
also helps to stabilize acidic formulas while maintaining a positive pH
level, hence reducing the risk of skin irritation.

What Skin Types Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids Good For?

Now that you have an idea of what most of the common alpha hydroxy acids
do, it’s time to consider your skin type. As you can see, some skin
types like acne or reactive skin are more suited to certain AHAs over
others. So, let’s delve into what your skin type says about your AHA of

If you have oily, acne-prone, or skin that’s prone to
hyperpigmentation, glycolic acid will be your BFF. Due to its small molecular size, it
can penetrate the deeper dermis, helping to lift away pore-clogging
impurities, dark spots, and even fine lines and wrinkles. A trifecta of
skin goodness!

If you have dry or sensitive skin, you’re not
being left out to dry. You may find that glycolic acid is too much for
your skin to handle. If this is the case, have no fear; you have some
acids to count on – as in lactic and mandelic acids. Kojic acid will
work well with sensitive skin plagued by pesky dark spots. These acids
don’t penetrate the skin as deeply – less irritation for the win!

If you have normal to combination skin, citric
acid has unique properties and good-for-your-skin benefits that your
dermis is going to drink up! Since it comes from citrus, you can expect
brightening powers that will leave your skin radiant. But unlike many
other acids, this citrus superstar acid is unique as it also possesses
antioxidant properties that can help fight against sun damage and
oxidative stress.

Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids Like Retinol or Hyaluronic Acid?

In the world of skin care, let’s just say ingredients can get a bit
confusing, especially if they have multi-tasking abilities that seem to
overlap with other ingredients. Take alpha hydroxy acids: with the word
“acid” in it, AHAs can come across as intimidating to use, especially if
you have very sensitive skin. AHAs also have some similar properties to
retinol, like the ability to shed dead skin cells, but they are two
different things.

Some consider retinol a chemical exfoliant. Retinol does increase cell
turnover like AHAs do, but exfoliation isn’t its key purpose. Retinol is
an anti-aging ingredient meant to promote collagen and elastin
production, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles!
Plus, retinol works its most potent and safest magic while you sleep,
whereas some AHAs can be used during the day.

Next up is hyaluronic acid! Though alpha hydroxy acids and hyaluronic
acid share the word “acid”, they are indeed different. Sure, hyaluronic
acid (HA) has become the “pumpkin spice” of skin care at tackling all
things dry and dull, its role is more of a hydration superstar, meaning
it binds to water to plump up and hydrate your skin. These two acids
have different, but great benefits for the skin.

Alpha hydroxy acids are powerful, natural skin care ingredients that can
improve texture and minimize pores to promote cellular turnover and
restore luminosity. The best part is that these all-star acids are
diverse – there’s something for every skin type! Take advantage of the
enhanced product penetration, which has plenty of big benefits for skin!
It’s something your skin will fall in love with during the

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