What Is Hydroxy Acid?

by Sava Tang Alcantara

Hydroxy acid has been a buzzword the last 25 years as it appeared in many skin-care products to help the skin slough off dead cells to reveal new skin underneath.

Hydroxy acid can be manufactured in a lab or found in all fruits, especially pineapple, lemon and papaya.

There is no need to pay high prices for skin-care products if you want the benefits of hydroxyl acids; simply use real fresh fruit skins and lightly rub against your face to exfoliate.

Identification

Hydroxy acid is a category of synthetics components that can be manufactured to provide a peeling and exfoliation process of the skin. Age-old remedies of hydroxy acid include red wine, sour buttermilk, sugar cane and fruits of all kinds, especially citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and papaya.

In commercial skin-care products, alpha hydroxyl acid concentrations are usually 10 percent or less. At a dermatologist’s office, patients can receive chemical skin peels using a concentration of 20 to 30 percent. The result is skin is exfoliated as in microdermabrasion.

Very strong concentration skin peels at 50 to 70 percent of alpha hydroxyl acid will result in very red skin and even oozing.

Benefits

Alpha hydroxy acids contain fruit acids and they may also be synthetics. The primary purpose of applying alpha hydroxyl acids to the skin is to help remove dead skin cells.

Alpha hydroxyl acids can be found in commercial skin-care products including moisturizer, cleansers, “overnight” and “daytime” creams but not sunscreens.

Considerations

Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble and best suited to sun-damaged skin that is "thicker." Even then, staying out of the sun during its peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and slathering on a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is recommended.

B hydroxy acid is a salicyclic acid that helps remove blemishes from skin as it is an oil-soluble acid that is able to dissolve the surface oil on the sebum layer of the skin.

Warning

If you use alpha hydroxy skin-care products, use only one rather than several. The skin’s layer is relatively thin; it is not necessary to use three or four skin-care products that each contains AHAs.

If you have not used AHAs before, do a skin patch test to make certain you are not overly sensitive to it.

Prevention/Solution

Using AHA can make a significant improvement in the texture of skin and help reduce the sign of fine wrinkles. Generally, results like that requires a higher-concentration of AHAs available only in a skin peel or in skin-care products only available through a dermatologists.

If you are new to using AHAs, use only one product and always wear sunscreen on your face and any exposed skin, even on cloudy days. This is to provide protection from UV A and B rays that may more easily tan or burn skin that has been treated with AHAs.

Best results occur if you remain out of bright sunlight and consistently use products with at least a 10 percent concentration of AHAs.

About the Author

Sava Tang Alcantara has been a writer and editor since 1988, working as a writer and editor for health publications such as "Let's Live Magazine" and "Whole Life Times." Alcantara specializes in health and fitness and is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. She does volunteer work regularly and has taught free public yoga classes in Santa Monica, Calif. since 2002.