Alpha Hydroxy Acid, AHA, has been used in skincare products for quite some time, and its use has only increased with the increase in research surrounding its many benefits for the skin. And it does have a multitude of incredible benefits, such as reducing visible sun damage, smoothing fine lines, and encouraging hydration, to name a few. Here, we will explore those AHA skin benefits and others so you can determine whether this ingredient is suitable for you. Don’t worry; should the answer be “Yes” (and it likely will be), we will help you incorporate AHA into your skincare routine seamlessly as well.
8 Benefits of AHA Skincare
You may be surprised to find that unlike some ingredients commonly found in skincare, AHAs naturally occur in nature and are safe to use. Plus, they’re effective. It’s ingredients like this that we seek out at REN because we use clean ingredients that work with your skin while limiting irritation.
The most common Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) used in skincare are glycolic acid and lactic acid. However, there are a few other less common AHAs that often supplement these two major players to enhance their efficacy. These include tartaric acid, citric acid, malic acid, and mandelic acid. Read the labels on your skincare products to see if you may already be benefiting from AHAs such as these.
AHAs, in particular, tend to show maximum results when used over a long period of time. So, be patient. Results such as these are well worth waiting for. So what does AHA do for skin? Without further adieu, these are the many benefits of incorporating AHA into your skincare routine:
1. Gets Rid of Dead Skin Cells
Primarily, AHA is a chemical exfoliant, which means it helps rid the skin’s surface of dead skin cells. This is a major benefit of AHA because it has wonderful side effects. Getting rid of those dead skin cells is essential for clearer-looking pores, brighter skin, a more even complexion, a more effective skincare routine, and overall, healthier-looking skin.
There are, of course, other exfoliating agents, but none are as gentle as AHAs, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. These compounds are small enough to help dissolve dead skin cells and remove dirt that keeps your skin from looking its best.
Exfoliating with a gentle ingredient such as lactic acid can be done daily, if your skin can tolerate it. To do so, reach for our Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. With Lactic Acid (AHA) and Salicin (BHA), this cult-status tonic exfoliates, brightens and hydrates for a smooth, even complexion. Add a refreshing boost of antioxidants as well by trying out our Summer Limited Edition Daily AHA Tonic infused with organic cucumber. Swipe on either formula morning or night with a cotton pad all over your face and immediately notice an improved complexion.
2. Promotes Radiance
Radiance may be somewhat immeasurable, but when you go from dull to not dull, the change in the mirror is noticeable, and you can thank AHA. A dull complexion is often caused by clogged pores and dead skin cells sitting on the surface of the skin. When you rid the skin of these dull culprits, voilá, it instantly becomes more radiant.
Exfoliating with lactic acid daily helps to even skin tone and promotes an all-over glow. Once you experience the difference, you won’t want to let a day go by without it. Take the Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic 100ml size with you wherever you go so you never have to be without a glow.
3. Reduces Visible Sun Damage
While we can’t go back and tell our younger selves to apply more sunscreen or stay out of the sun, we can do everything we can now to prevent further sun damage, and thanks to AHAs, visibly reduce the signs of sun damage that are already apparent. The use of AHAs has been shown to decrease roughness, discoloration, and overall pigmentation, all of which are symptoms of sun damage.
However, it is important to note that AHAs do also make skin more sensitive to the sun. Avoid increased sun sensitivity by applying AHA-containing products at night and always using sun protection such as Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 to shield your skin from further damage.
4. Reduces Dryness
Although it may seem counterintuitive that an exfoliating agent should also be moisturizing, that combo effect is the beauty of AHAs. With increased hydration, the overall appearance of the skin is improved, as is its overall function. If you have dry skin, consistently using AHAs can help improve hydration levels and buff away patches of dry, flaky skin, which brings us to our next benefit...
5. Smooths Skin Texture
As AHAs work, they naturally smooth the texture of the skin. How? By buffing away rough patches, clearing pores, and boosting hydration. We know smooth, soft, moisturized skin isn’t just a desire for your face, but your body too. This is why we created our AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum that features lactic acid, which helps to eliminate dead skin and helps the skin's natural barrier repair process. Gently massage it onto clean skin to reveal smoother, softer skin all over, and remember to apply an SPF before going outside.
6. Helps Prevent Blemishes
A big benefit of exfoliating, in general, is clearing clogged pores, which can lead to breakouts, especially if the skin is blemish-prone. Chemical exfoliants such as AHAs enhance this benefit by exfoliating the skin gently without causing tears in the skin or irritation that can often lead to more blemishes. If you are prone to breakouts, using a gentle, chemical exfoliator such as our Daily AHA Tonic consistently is one of the best steps you can add to your skincare routine.
If you are prone to breakouts or blemish scars, you may also want to consider another powerful hydroxy acid—salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a form of BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that can be particularly helpful when targeting blemishes. Learn other ways BHA compares to AHA here.
7. Visibly Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles are some of the peskiest skin problems, but AHAs can help with those too! Seriously? Seriously. Glycolic acid and lactic acid promote cell turnover, which can help improve skin firmness, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
To reap this benefit, try incorporating our Micro Polish Cleanser into your routine. It’s an exfoliating cleanser that contains glycolic acid from pineapple as well as lactic acid to help reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines and reveal a brighter, more radiant complexion.
8. Enhances Youthful Appearance
Given the AHA skin benefits listed above from reducing fine lines and wrinkles to promoting radiance, it’s only natural that AHAs can enhance the youthful appearance of skin. A smoother, less discolored, more hydrated complexion that appears visibly younger. And although every age is beautiful, if using AHAs helps you feel more confident in your own skin, then why not take every advantage?
Should I Be Using AHA?
It’s always good to know what the ingredients in your skin care routine are actually doing for you. With AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, among others, you can reap all of the incredible benefits above. Whether you’re struggling with aging, sun-damaged, blemish-prone, or dry skin, AHAs can help, but even if you don’t face any of these problems, exfoliating with AHAs will encourage healthier-looking and more radiant skin, and combat many problems before they begin.
Additionally, with the variety of AHA-containing products available, you can find AHA skin care that is suited to your skin type. So what are the best aha products? If you have sensitive skin, for instance, you will benefit from products with lactic acid. If your skin isn’t sensitive, or you are looking for more dramatic results, you may benefit from glycolic acid masks or peels. Whatever your skin goals are, AHAs can help you reach them.
Remember, using AHAs is a long-term commitment (but, it’s an easy one!); while some results will show up immediately—hello, fresh glow—others will take time. Commit to using this powerful ingredient consistently and you’ll see visibly brighter, more hydrated, more youthful-looking skin in no time.
About the Author
Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.
She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favourite part working for REN.