Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Updated: May 22, 2019

Cleopatra –  the sole female of the ancient world to rule alone and control the largest territory; she could alleviate a famine, build a fleet, suppress an insurrection…all while rocking her beauty routine – which probably included AHAs!


Alpha Hydroxy Acids, aka AHAs, that are used in cosmetic formulations usually come from food products: glycolic acid from sugar cane, malic acid from apples, lactic acid from sour milk (An Egyptian milk bath anyone?), citric acid from citrus fruits and of course my favorite, tartaric acid from wine.

So how do AHAs work?  They penetrate deep into the dermal layer of skin loosening the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together to that they are more easily released, thus increasing exfoliation of the skin.  Since most people are walking around with about 30 EXTRA layers of dead skin, this helps increase glow and penetration of all those fabulous products you are applying.  Exfoliation not only helps to stimulate faster production of new skin, but it helps to unclog pores which makes AHAs excellent ingredients to help combat breakouts.

Often overlooked are other amazing benefits of AHA such as the increased stimulation of fresh collagen and elastin production. Collagen and elastin are the architecture of our skin making it firm, toned and have that “bounce back” quality of baby skin.  AHAs also act as a humectant drawing water deep into the dermal layers making it plump and moist.

So which AHA works the best?  Each one has their own slightly unique benefits but glycolic acid is preferred due to its small molecular weight.  This mean the molecule can penetrate deeply where it can do its best work.  Stronger glycolic a