Search alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) on Google and you will find pages and pages of information. Most agree that alpha hydroxy acids are naturally occurring, nontoxic acids that have been used to help improve the appearance of skin for centuries. Most also agree that alpha hydroxy acids really work! Many do not, however, agree on what percentage of AHA is needed to be an effective skin care ingredient. There is also little or no consensus on how percentages should be expressed. You can find over-the-counter products claiming percentages anywhere from 4% to 50%! Unfortunately, cosmetic labeling can be very misleading. Since AHAs are the cornerstone of the Alpha Skin Care line of products, we want to help clarify some label information and share what you need to know when shopping for an alpha hydroxy acid product.
Here are four pieces of information you should know when reading labels on AHA products.
The Type of AHA
Glycolic acid is the alpha hydroxy acid most commonly used in anti-aging skin care products. Glycolic acid is a natural fruit acid derived from sugar cane. The reason glycolic acid is the AHA used most often in skin care products is that is the smallest AHA molecule. This means that it can more easily get into your skin. It also yields the most dramatic results. For the best results when using an alpha hydroxy acid, look for formulas with glycolic acid.
The Percentage of AHA
For an AHA to be effective, the percentage of AHA should be between 8% and 14%. A product with less than 8% AHA is little more than a moisturizer. Products that claim to have more than 14% are considered a chemical peel and really should be administered in a dermatologists office. We make AHA products that are 10%, 12% and 14% glycolic AHA. Don’t be fooled by misleading information that suggests an AHA product has 25% or higher. It simply is not true, and if it were, the product would not be safe for you to use.
The AHA Solution
Now you know what percentage is effective but, it is a percentage of what? AHAs are an ingredient that needs a carrier like a cream, lotion or gel. That means that no AHA solution is made up of 100% AHAs. When companies refer to the percentages on labels and packages the percent is usually based on a 70% AHA solution. Here is an example; 8% of a 70% solution is really 5.6% (70 x 8% = 5.6). So an 8% AHA is really 5.6% of the overall formula. We make a cream, lotion, gel and serum so there is a product for all skin types.
The pH Level
Finally, you should know the importance of pH levels when reading cosmetics labels. To be effective, the pH level for an AHA should be between 3.5 and 4.0. If the pH level that is too low will be too acidic and irritating. A pH level of more than 4.0 is too alkaline to be effective and acts more like a moisturizer. Be wary of alpha hydroxy acid products that do not list the percentage of AHA or pH levels. They could have too little AHA to be effective or may not be properly formulated.
From the beginning in 1992, Alpha Skin Care (formerly Alpha Hydrox) has always put complete information on the box. The type of AHA, the percentage, the solution, and the pH level are featured prominently. We want our consumers to be educated and well-informed about the products that they buy. We believe, that given accurate information, people will make the best buying decision possible and in skin care, the best decision is Alpha Skin Care.