What are the Alpha Hydroxy Acids, and How do They Benefit Your Skin?

Alpha hydroxy acids
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You must have read an ingredient list of your skincare product that includes glycolic acid, lactic acid, or citric acid. But, do you have any idea about what they are? What do they do? And most important, which one is best for you? Let us solve the confusion for you.

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?

Alpha hydroxy acids are the group of acids extracted from plant or animal material. They are widely used in skincare products, especially anti-aging ones because they help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Types of Alpha Hydroxy Acids

          There is a total of seven types of alpha-hydroxy acids that are commonly found in skincare products.

  • Glycolic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Hydroxy caproic Acid
  • Malic Acid
  • Hydroxy caprylic Acid
  • Tartaric Acid

Out of all the types mentioned above of AHAs, glycolic acid and lactic acid are abundantly used by the beauty industry. Both types are very gentle on the skin and do not cause irritation.

Potential Benefits


The primary function of alpha-hydroxy acids is exfoliation. They boost the natural shedding of dead skin cells and improve skin regeneration.

The natural aging process slows down the skin cycle. The build-up debris makes your skin look dull. The aggregation of dead skin cells also causes wrinkles, age spots, and acne, and AHAs effectively remove the junk from the surface.

Skin Brightening

When all the dead skin cells are removed from the surface, the underneath layer looks fresh, healthy, and bright. Glycolic acid is famous for its exfoliating properties. You can use a peel containing glycolic acid twice a week for incredible results. Likewise, citric acid helps to even out your skin complexion.

Collagen Production

Collagen is a protein that helps to maintain the elasticity of your skin. It is present in the second layer of the dermis. Fibers began to break down by age. Ultraviolet radiations of the sun also bring significant damage to the collagen protein. This results in wrinkled and saggy skin.

AHAs remove the epidermis and penetrate deeper into the dermis layer. As a result, they mend the damaged collagen fibers and enhance their production.

Dark Spots

Excessive sun exposure results in the appearance of dark spots. They are most commonly found on hands, face, and chest.

Acne, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation also leave dark spots on the skin. Alpha hydroxy acids increase cell turnover. The continuous use of AHAs removes all the dark spots and reveals a clear complexion.

Treatment of Acne

Acne appears when your pores get clogged with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria. AHAs remove debris from pores and prevent further clogging.

Alpha hydroxy acids also reduce the size of your pores. Glycolic acid heals acne scars. You will see citric acid and malic acid as potential ingredients of acne control skin care products because they visibly reduce skin inflammation.

You need to be patient while using some AHAs containing skincare products to treat your acne because it can take two to three months to show visible improvement. Just be consistent with the routine and don’t lose hope.

Product Absorption

When dead cells are on the skin, it becomes difficult for your skincare products to penetrate deeply. The debris reduces the effectiveness of all products you apply to your skin, like a serum, moisturizer, or day cream.

AHAs break down the dead cells so your moisturizer can be absorbed into your deeper skin cells and provide lasting hydration.


You will see glycolic acid with vitamin C in several moisturizers or lotions. AHA helps vitamin C to get absorbed into deeper layers of skin. The two ingredients are the perfect partners to instantly make your skin feel hydrated and radiant.

The Bottom Line

          Alpha hydroxy acids are safe for all skin types. But if you have some extra sensitive skin or suffer from skin ailments like rosacea, avoid using them. Always start with a lower concentration of AHA to see how your skin responds to it. AHAs are present in facial cleansers, serums, moisturizers, skin peels, or face masks. You can also try the 10% AHA Exfoliating cleanser by James Christian Cosmetics to give your skin the best it deserves!

*Information in this article is not medical advice and may not be factually accurate. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Consult with a physician before attempting any tips in this blog post and to get the most up to date factual data about any procedure or treatment.