You could say we’re obsessed with all things skincare—from the latest scientific breakthroughs to the best new treatments—but sometimes the most effective ingredients aren’t new at all. To wit: Cleopatra soaked in milk baths thousands of years ago to make her skin more beautiful. While the Egyptian leader didn’t know it at the time, alpha hydroxy acid was delivering the exfoliating, anti-aging, and brightening benefits.
Think of alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA) as the blue jeans of the skincare industry: no matter your age, concern, skin type, or tone, they’ll work for you. What exactly are they and what do they do? Click through our slideshow for everything you need to know.
Alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, is a classification given to certain naturally-occuring acids—glycolic, lactic, citric, mandelic—commonly found in foods like milk and fruit. Low percentages of AHAs are incredibly gentle and effective for a list of skin concerns, including wrinkles, blackheads, dull skin, and clogged pores.
AHAs are found in skincare products like cleansers, serums, lotions, masks, and peels.
Alpha hydroxyl acids work in two parts. First, they chemically exfoliate, which helps to remove dry and dead skin, unclog pores, brighten, and prevent breakouts.
The second part is their anti-aging benefits. Studies have proven they can reverse sun damage and help to remove deeper wrinkles by firming the inner layers of skin.
Anyone! They’re incredibly gentle and deliver results for skin of any age, from dry skin to blackheads. Plus, they’re incredibly common, which means you can find formulas tailored to everyone’s needs, whether you have sensitive skin or a vegan lifestyle. Keep clicking through our slideshow for a round-up of AHA-packed products!
NaturaBisse Facial Cleansing Cream + A.H.A. ($49)
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti Blemish Cleanser ($6)
Renee Rouleau AHA Smoothing Serum 17 Percent ($44)
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($36)
Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturizing & Brightening Cream ($35)
Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Gel ($45)
Dermadoctor Ain't Misbehavin' Medicated AHA/BHA Acne Cleanser ($27)
Fresh Sugar Acai Age-Delay Body Cream ($65)
Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser ($25)
Dior Capture Totale One Essential ($95)
Boscia Clear Complexion Moisturizer ($36)
Ren Resurfacing AHA Concentrate ($45)
Jurlique Fruit Enzyme Exfoliator ($45)
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion ($60)