AHA’s, and Chemical Peels

Wed, 27 October 2010 5:10PM

Celebs, models, rock stars and skincare professionals all use it. Now more popular than ever in the skincare market, if you haven’t heard it before this will eventually become your skin’s best friend.

A beauty secret that has been available for the last 20 years, AHAs were first used back in the days when Cleopatra bathed her body in sour milk. Women of the French Court also used AHAs when they rubbed grapes on their skin for a softer, more glowing visage.

AHAs stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Derived from fruit and dairy sugars, acids are extracted or made in the laboratory to be used as a key ingredient in skincare.

The two most popular and effective AHAs are Glycolic Acid (from sugar canes) and Lactic Acid (from sour milk) as they have the smallest molecular weight and therefore greater skin penetration.

There’s nothing to be worried about, it sounds intimidating but really AHAs will do wonders to your skin. Think of it as taking your skin to the next level by correcting and maintaining it. Worried about blackheads, pigmentation, acne, breakouts, dryness or open pores? AHAs will target these specific skin concerns and control them from developing.

How do they work?
AHAs work by exfoliating the skin to slough the dead surface cells off. This is done by loosening or dissolving the glue-like substance that binds skin cells together. It penetrates at a much deeper level which creates a deeper exfoliation when compared to a mechanical exfoliation (granular scrubs). The skin is not damaged by abrasives or physical scrubbing.

What are the benefits?
• Use of AHAs reveals new, fresher and more youthful looking skin.

• AHAs stimulate the production of collagen and elastin (these are your skin fibers), to improve wrinkles, roughness, acne, pigmentation, and photo damaged skin.

• They help to ‘normalise’ the skin. AHAs regulate skin hydration and cellular renewal to a ‘normal’ rate. They also work on skin tone and texture.

AHAs in skincare and chemical peels
AHAs can be found in a number of leading skincare brands such as Md Formulations (Glycolic acid based) and Priori (Lactic acid based). Product labels will generally specify if AHAs have been added. If you have sensitive skin, look for a brand that has specifically formulated a range for sensitive skin. For example, MD formulations Sensitive Skin Range contains a sensitive skin complex.

Chemical Peels
These are only performed at a salon or mediSpa. Always ensure a qualified therapist applies the peel to your skin. Depending on the formulation, it may be left on for three to ten minutes. Professional salon peels utilise a higher concentration of AHAs and are used as either a one-off treatment (as part of a facial service) or as a stand alone treatment comprising a course of four to six treatments. Try and have one once a week, depending on the skin type and/or skin concern being treated. This is the preferred method for those seeking stronger anti-ageing benefits.

• Start off by slowly introducing AHAs to your skincare regime by adding a skin corrector, or changing your cleanser.

• When using skincare with AHAs, you must wear an SPF during the day. This will reduce the risk of sun sensitivity.

• Some products may tingle. In my experience, if you’re dehydrated from alcohol, caffeine or just haven’t had enough water, it may tingle more.

• Before a professional course of peels always use the home care for two weeks prior to the first treatment.

• Do a skin-sensitivity test if you are a first-time user of any AHA product.

My Favourite AHA Products:
Priori LCA/AHA Chemical Peel (In salon treatment)
MD Formulations Classic Glycolic Peel (In salon treatment)
Both are great with Omnilux Light Therapy

Priori Advanced AHA Barrier Repair Creme with LCA Complex, $120.00
Ilcsi AHA Fruit Pulp Treatment (Biological Peeling Mask), $90.00

Do you already use AHAs in your skincare?
What brands with AHAs do you favour using?
Have you ever had a chemical peel?

Gwen Giorla is a beauty therapist.

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  • Posted by: madisonc // Sun, 31 October 2010 02:40pm

    Hmm, I’ve had 2 chemical peels and neither have recommended that I need to use home care prior.

    They also suggested that department store products are less effective as the product should be more natural rather than designed to sit on shelves for months.
    THoughts? I’m not seeing any real change after 2 peels.

  • Posted by: Talithaw Enthusiast // Thu, 2 December 2010 09:04pm

    Thank you for this blog, it has certainly helped me to understand more about AHAs and peels. I used Glymed living cell clarifier and it is working a treat, my skin tone is more even and pigmentation has significantly decreased.

  • Posted by: nwhincup Enthusiast // Mon, 6 December 2010 03:24pm

    Interesting.. but not for me :)

  • Posted by: Jasmin Enthusiast // Tue, 7 December 2010 08:40am

    I’ve tried the MD formulations range for at home skincare but would love to step things up and try an in-salon treatment. Thanks for the tips!

  • Posted by: IM2Q2NV Enthusiast // Mon, 20 December 2010 02:51pm

    I use the Zenmed line from America and its done wonders for my skin. Thank you for this blog its helped with understanding one of the products that I’m using on my face.

  • Posted by: Gwen Giorla // Tue, 1 February 2011 08:35pm

    Thanks for reading. Im glad i have educated you. I will try and write some more blogs soon :)

  • Posted by: BettyBoo Master Fan // Sat, 19 February 2011 07:12am

    Thanks so much Gloria for explaining AHAs in lay man terms. I have heard of them before but did not understand how they work.

  • Posted by: nita01 Master Fan // Fri, 25 March 2011 11:12pm

    I’d love to have a chemical peel. I’ve used products at home that have AHA’s in them but it would be great to have the real deal done in a salon.

  • Posted by: captaincheeky Enthusiast // Fri, 22 April 2011 05:51pm

    Oh thanks for the article!! Very helpful, i’m considering AHA peels

  • Posted by: Fiona4812 Newbie // Tue, 24 May 2011 04:42pm

    This blog is great, it has helped me understand what I have putting on my face for the last few weeks. I’ve been alternating between chemical peels and microdermabrasion’s and have had fantastic results! I’ve been having them done at the Clear Complexsions clinic in Canberra. The AHA chemical peels clear up my skin fantastically and I’m noticing a permanent glow as a result of them! I use some MD formulations and Priori products at home in conjunction with the peels. Would recommend their products and AHA peels to anyone trying to clear up ACNE.

  • Posted by: Melissa // Sun, 12 June 2011 11:56am

    I do use an AHA based cleanser and it’s wonderful, seriously. It cleared up my skin really quick and made it look super clear and healthy.

  • Posted by: zoeeangelaa Master Fan // Wed, 31 August 2011 10:35pm

    Good post, would be interested when I’m older.

  • Posted by: Bantam Master Fan // Sun, 23 October 2011 02:49pm

    I must say I’m definitely on the AHA bandwagon after reading this and trying AHA masks, which are the bomb! :)

  • Posted by: anitas.artistry Master Fan // Tue, 27 March 2012 11:18am

    Thanks for the tip about wearing sunscreen after using AHA’s!

  • Posted by: ellen // Mon, 17 June 2013 06:30am

    i would HIGHLY recommend the PRIORI AHA peel at a salon. I found a salon that offers 4 sessions for $125. These peels make your skin glow, heal up acne and make the skin tone more even. Priori is the way to go.

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Fri, 9 August 2013 02:40pm

    I have never had a chemical peel before, would love to try one as I have heard positive things said about it.


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