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9 Things You Need to Know Before Using AHAs on Your Skin

Woman applying face serum

AHAs have been all the buzz in the skincare world, and for good reason. Known for their ability to exfoliate and resurface the skin, these acids can give you the radiant skin of your dreams. Before you add an AHA product to your skincare repertoire, though, there are a few things you should know.

What is an AHA?

Woman applying serum to hand

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid. They are water-soluble acids derived from sugar, fruits, nuts, or dairy products. AHAs are mainly used to exfoliate the skin by removing dead cells from its surface. The strength of an AHA is determined by the type and concentration of the acid and its pH level.

AHAs speed up the process of shedding dead cells at the skin’s surface, promoting skin turnover. They work by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together and allowing dead skin cells to slough off more easily.

There are a few different kinds of AHAs:

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid has some of the smallest molecules of AHAs, which allows it to penetrate the skin deeper than other AHAs. This means that glycolic acid is one of the most effective AHAs you can use on your skin. That also means that it’s one of the strongest, so beginners might want to steer away from this ingredient and begin with a gentler AHA.

While glycolic acid is naturally derived from sugar, it is most effective when it is lab-created and optimized for its use in skincare products.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid has larger molecules than glycolic acid and is more gentle on the skin. Because of this, it might take a bit longer to notice the effects of using lactic acid. This acid is great for those who are just beginning their foray into the world of acids.

Because lactic acid is derived from dairy, those with dairy allergies should avoid this AHA.

Mandelic acid

Mandelic acid has even larger molecules than lactic acid and is one of the gentlest AHAs you can use on your skin. It’s great for those with sensitive, easily irritated skin who might want to avoid stronger acids.

Mandelic acid is derived from almonds, so those with nut allergies should steer clear of this ingredient.

Malic acid

Malic acid has larger molecules and penetrates the skin slower. While it’s not considered too effective of an ingredient on its own, it can boost the efficacy of other AHAs. This is why it is often formulated with a combination of other AHAs.

Malic acid is derived from apples, but it’s more commonly found in its synthetic form, which is easier to stabilize.

Tartaric acid

Tartaric acid has almost double the molecule size of glycolic acid. It is used primarily as a pH adjuster in skincare products, making other acids such as glycolic and lactic acid more effective.

Tartaric acid comes from grapes, but, like malic acid, is often used in its synthetic form.

 

What’s the Difference Between AHAs and BHAs?

Woman holding skincare products

Both AHAs and BHAs are used to exfoliate the skin. The difference lies in their solubility: while AHAs are water-soluble, BHAs are oil-soluble. This changes the way they work on the skin.

As water-soluble acids, AHAs work at the skin’s surface to dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together. On the other hand, oil-soluble BHAs are able to cut through oil and penetrate pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. This makes BHAs great for those with oily skin, clogged, pores, or acne. Salicylic acid, the most popular BHA, is also antibacterial, which makes it even more effective at fighting pesky spots.

While neither acid is better, it’s important to understand how each acid works to choose which one is best for your skin.

If you’re wondering if an AHA is right for you, here’s what you should know.

 

You Must Use a Sunscreen

Before you start using an AHA, it’s important to have a sunscreen you know you will use. We can’t emphasize this enough—sunseen is an absolute must when you use an AHA! This is because AHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun and increase your risk of sunburn. By exfoliating your skin, AHAs reveal newer, smoother skin underneath, which is more susceptible to sun damage. If you’re using an AHA to address the effects of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, or age spots, you don’t want to further damage your skin by going without sunscreen.

How to choose the right sunscreen:

The best sunscreen out there is the one you will use. As long as you’re using a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 everyday, rain or shine, your skin will thank you.

Luckily, modern sunscreens are completely different from the thick, white sunscreens you might remember from your childhood summers. Nowadays, there are a ton of cosmetically elegant sunscreens on the market that will make applying them a treat rather than a chore. You can take your pick from physical or chemical sunscreens, or a combination of the two. Make sure to apply the proper amount of sunscreen (around half a teaspoon for your face alone!) as the last step of your skincare routine and before applying makeup.

 

Start Using AHAs Slowly

Woman looking at skin in mirror

We get it — it can be exciting to start using an AHA, especially because it promises to give you better skin. It can be tempting to start using your AHA whenever you have the chance in hopes of seeing faster results.

Our advice? Don’t.

It’s important to follow the instructions on your AHA product, but generally, it’s good practice to introduce them to your skin slowly. This means using your AHA product only a few times a week to see how your skin reacts. Once your skin acclimates, you can start using it every other day, before graduating to daily use when your skin builds up a tolerance.

 

Start with a Gentler Acid or Lower Percentages

Exploring the world of chemical exfoliation is exciting, and you might be lured into trying stronger AHA products in order to accelerate the process to smoother skin. On top of introducing your AHA product to your skin slowly, we recommend starting with a more gentle acid if you’re just beginning your foray into acids.

If you’re a beginner, here’s how to choose the right AHA:

Luckily, when it comes to AHAs, you have a number of different options. You could start with a gentler AHA, like mandelic acid, or a lower percentage (around 5%) of lactic or glycolic acid.

We recommend starting with a gentle AHA product like Orogold’s 24k Multi-Vitamin Deep Peeling + Mandelic Acid. It’s also formulated with vitamin C, which helps brighten the skin, and bamboo stem powder, which gives it a boost of gentle physical exfoliation. It’s a gentle way to exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal smoother, brighter skin underneath.

If you want to start with a stronger acid like glycolic acid, tread carefully. Glycolic acid is the most effective out of all the AHAs, which is great, but not so great for those just starting out with acids or those with sensitive skin.

 

The pH of Your AHA Product Matters

Unfortunately, when it comes to chemical exfoliation, you can’t just use any old product and expect it to work as advertised. Some products that contain AHAs might not work as intended if they’re not at the right pH. Formulation matters, and the pH-level of your AHA product will determine how effective it is on your skin. Changing the pH also changes the amount of AHA will be absorbed into your skin.

AHAs are most effective with a pH of around 3.5-4. Avoid products with a pH of below 2.5—this may make the AHA too irritating for your skin and disrupt its acid mantle, which is typically around a pH of 4.7

Here’s how to determine the pH of your AHA:

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Most products don’t advertise their pH level, and even if they do, it might not be accurate. Your best bet is to get your own pH strips to test your products’ pH levels. Otherwise, you could try contacting the brand’s representative to ask about the pH of your product.

 

You Can Disrupt Your Moisture Barrier if You Use AHAs Incorrectly

Woman looking at skin in mirror

Using acids is no joke, and if you’re not careful, you could over-exfoliate your skin and seriously damage your moisture barrier, which leads to dry, dehydrated, irritated, and flaky skin. Your skin may look stretched out and crepey, with more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles. Basically, a damaged moisture barrier is not what you want to get out of your AHA.

Here’s what to do if you’ve over-exfoliated your skin:

If you suspect you’ve damaged your moisture barrier from overusing your AHA or using too strong of a product, stop all active use immediately—this includes vitamin C and retinoids, too. Focus on babying your skin for the meantime, like using a watery hydrator or a nourishing serum to bring hydration back to the skin and a soothing moisturizer to lock in moisture and prevent water loss from the skin’s surface.

 

AHAs Can Help Address Signs of Skin Aging

If you’re wondering how to get rid of a few pesky age spots or if you’re bothered by a few fine lines or wrinkles, using an AHA is a great way to reduce their appearance.

AHAs work by exfoliating the top layer of the skin, revealing smoother, healthier, and less pigmented skin underneath. With regular use, AHAs have been found to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

There’s one caveat, though: since using an AHA makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, you can actually increase your risk of premature aging from photodamage if you don’t use a sunscreen. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, so it’s important to keep your skin protected with a broad spectrum SPF. Using a sunscreen is one of the best things you can do to prevent premature aging caused by the sun, so you should be using one anyway!

However, even AHAs have their limit: AHAs won’t have much of an effect on deep wrinkles. For those, talk to your dermatologist about procedures such as dermal fillers or laser resurfacing.

 

AHAs Can Boost Collagen Production

Not only do AHAs work at the surface of the skin by sloughing off dead skin cells, they also have an effect on the skin’s deeper layer, the dermis. All AHAs have the ability to stimulate collagen production, but none do it as well as glycolic acid, which has been found to increase the production of collagen and fibroblasts in the skin.

As we age, the amount of collagen in our skin decreases, which leads to saggy and wrinkled skin. Boosting the skin’s collagen production helps mitigate the effects of aging and leads to plumper, smoother skin.

So while your AHA smooths your skin at the surface, it’s also working to boost your skin’s main structural protein. This is just one of the benefits that AHAs have over BHAs—they’re great for aging skin because they can treat it in multiple ways.

 

AHAs Can Hydrate the Skin

Woman applying face cream

Unlike BHAs, AHAs are humectants, which means they’re water-loving ingredients that draw water to the skin. This means that on top of exfoliating your skin, they can also hydrate it. No AHA does this better than lactic acid, which helps improve the skin’s natural moisture factor. This quality makes lactic acid great for those with dry or dehydrated skin.

 

AHAs Can Take a While to Show Significant Results

When you use an AHA, your skin may look brighter and more radiant right away, but it can take some time, from a few weeks to a few months, to see a significant reduction in clogged pores, rough texture, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. Even if you think your skin has plateaued, keep using your AHA—you’ll start to see major differences in a few months.

 

The Bottom Line on AHAs

AHAs are a great way to exfoliate the skin and achieve smoother, brighter, and more radiant skin. When you start using an AHA, remember to go slow and to listen to your skin to avoid over-exfoliation. Always follow product directions to avoid misuse and, most importantly, never forget to wear a sunscreen!

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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EMOLLIENT AND A HUMECTANT?

Woman Touching Her Face

Emollients and humectants are two common types of ingredients that are used in skin care products, but they both have quite different functions. From the moisture-attracting properties of humectants to the skin-smoothing benefits of emollients, here are a few of the differences between the two.

 

Humectants

Humectants are quite unique substances, as they are able to bond with water molecules, which then increases the moisture content of your skin. They attract water from the environment towards your skin, making them hugely effective when it comes to hydration. When it comes to the different humectants out there, glycerin tends to be the most commonly used, and this is because it is one of the most effective humectants when it comes to water binding. Other humectants include hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, and some sugars.

 

Emollients

Emollients are moisturizers that are able to soften and smooth the skin without actually adding any moisture to it. They do this by spreading themselves out across the surface of the skin, forming a layer of protection that then helps to prevent any moisture loss. They are also able to fill in any gaps between skin cells, which then helps to make the skin much more flexible, while greatly improving its appearance. Emollients tend to be categorized into two types, oil-based, and water-based. While the oil-based ones are heavier and slightly greasier, these are perfect for those with dry or dehydrated skin, whereas the thinner water-based emollients are great for normal or oily skin.

 

Combining Emollients and Humectants 

As you can see, emollients and humectants both perform quite different tasks, so while each one will no doubt be beneficial to just about every skin type, they are most effective when combined and used together. Fortunately, many skin care products out there already do this for you, and you are likely to find that the majority of high quality serums and moisturizers will already contain both emollients as well as humectants.

 

Choosing a Product that Contains Emollients and Humectants

When it comes to choosing a product that contains both emollients and humectants, it is usually best if you are able to test these out on your skin first, before making your purchase. Some emollients, as well as humectants, can leave a slight residue behind on the skin, so it is always a good idea to see how your own individual skin reacts to this before investing in a new product.

 

Emollients and moisturizers are both fantastic for the skin, and should be used on a daily basis in order to experience the very best results. Whether you do this in the form of a moisturizer, a serum or a skin oil, consistency is definitely key, so be sure to make this a regular part of your skin care routine.

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TRENDING SKIN CARE INGREDIENTS THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU

Woman on bed

Trends help to keep the skin care industry fresh and exciting, while providing consumers with new ideas for ways in which they can boost the health of their skin. This year, there are a number of new skin care ingredients that have come into the spotlight, as they have been proven to bring the skin so many different benefits.

Yuzu 

Yuzu, also known as yuza, is a citrus fruit that is primarily grown in Asia, and is packed with vitamin C. This is an ingredient that often makes it into high quality juices and Japanese dishes, but has been proven to really be able to nourish the skin too. From protecting it against premature aging to brightening the complexion, this is a completely natural and effective ingredient to add to your skin care regime.

Probiotics 

Consumer studies have shown that 72% of consumers are interested in using skin care products that contain probiotics, and this is hardly surprising when you consider the surge in popularity that probiotics have experienced in recent years. While scientists are still on the fence about exactly how effective probiotic skin care products are, the formulas that are already on the market promise everything from hydration to reduced redness, making them well worth a try.

Leafy Greens 

There are many leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, that are considered to be superfoods, and, in addition to bringing a wide range of nutrients to your body when consumed, they are also able to nourish your skin with all of their antioxidants. Superfoods are able to provide the body with the building blocks needed to function optimally, and by using them directly onto your skin, you will be amplifying this effect.

Bamboo 

Bamboo has been recognized for its medicinal properties in Asia for centuries now, but has only recently begun to make its way into skin care products. Bamboo is able to mimic the skin’s natural moisture, while acting as a humectant at the same time, meaning that it is able to draw moisture from the air into the skin. A face mask that contains bamboo sap is the best way to utilize this ingredient, as face masks give active ingredients enough time to really work their magic.

Birch Juice 

Birch juice is tapped directly from birch trees, and, thanks to its abundance of minerals, amino acids and sugars, is being touted as the new coconut water. In addition to significantly hydrating the skin, birch juice is also able to help maintain a positive oil-moisture balance, making it ideal for those with oily skin.

There will always be new skin care trends popping up, and some of them are well worth taking note of. However, when trying new ingredients and products on your skin, always remember to start off gradually, doing a patch test first to ensure that your skin will not negatively react to any of the ingredients.

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THE INCREDIBLE VITAMIN A

OROGOLD's vitamin A infographic

Often called one of the best wrinkle fighters, vitamin A really packs a punch when it comes to normalizing skin functions and rectifying skin issues. Many praise its anti-aging abilities, calling it the gold standard of skin care because of its ability to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. There is no magic pill against aging, but certain vitamins certainly come close in terms of improving the quality and appearance of your skin. So if you’re serious about reducing your dull skin, wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging, vitamin A is the right ingredient to look for in your skin care. This infographic from OROGOLD Cosmetics highlights vitamin A explains all the details you could want to know about this vitamin including how it works, its different forms and where it can be found.

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B VITAMINS FOR YOUR SKIN

B Vitamins Infographic with Info on types of Vitamin B and examples of food sources

There are eight B vitamins and all eight of them are known to work wonders for your skin. For example, vitamin B1 helps your body to improve its cardiovascular health. And when the body circulates blood better, your skin automatically looks better. Vitamins B3 and B5 can make the skin maintain its hydration and vitamin B5 is also known to be beneficial for acne. Did you know that the OROGOLD 24K Multi-Vitamin contains many of these B vitamins? Find out more about this exciting collection and the benefits that B Vitamins have to offer to your skin through this beautiful OROGOLD B vitamin infographic.

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VITAMINS

Vitamins spilled out of a vitamin bottle

One of the articles to look forward to this week is an article titled “How Vitamins Affect Your Appearance”. This article shall be posted on OROGOLD.com later on during the week and it shall offer you with insights on what role vitamins play in beautifying your skin and exactly how each vitamin affects your overall appearance.

When there are so many vitamins out there, how can you know which ones you need? OROGOLD is here to help! OROGOLD WordPress shall be discussing the answer to precisely this question with the “Which Vitamins are Worth Taking” article.

Another article that we are really excited about is scheduled to be posted on OROGOLD Stores. Titled “Historic Look at Vitamins”, this article takes you back into time and talks about how these vitamins were first discovered by mankind. Researcher William Fletcher might have discovered the importance of vitamins while researching on the causes of a disease known as Beriberi in the year 1907, but there were a few others who also played a huge role in bringing vitamins to the forefront and educating the world about their importance.

How To Use OROGOLD is scheduled to post an article titled “Can you Overdose on Vitamins?” This article is a must read for anyone using skin care products to treat their skin because it helps you to understand how important it is to use skin care products as directed by specialists. In this article, OROGOLD tells you why the excessive intake of vitamins can have negative consequences on the body and helps you to choose the right amount of vitamins for your skin care routines.

An article titled “Vitamin D Helps Your Mood” that will be posted on OROGOLD School shall talk about the importance of Vitamin D in the human body. Although the sun’s rays can be quite damaging to our skin, they are the best source of Vitamin D. And it turns out that Vitamin D has now been linked to a chemical known as Serotonin. For those of you not in the know, Serotonin is a brain chemical that is extremely crucial to fighting anxiety and regulating your moods.

Finally, OROGOLD Giveaway features Vitamin E in an article titled “A Vitamin That Fights Aging?” In this article, OROGOLD helps you to understand exactly why Vitamin E is so important for your skin as well as your health.

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SALAD INGREDIENTS FOR BLEMISH FREE SKIN

salad infographic

It’s great to want blemish-free skin, but you need to be prepared for the long haul. Unless you’re one of those few lucky ones, you need to put in a considerable amount of effort to make your skin look healthier and younger. Moreover, you don’t just need to treat it from the outside, you need to take care of it from the inside as well. This section helps you to understand how to treat your skin from the inside using these 5 salad ingredients for blemish-free skin. Click through to read more about Salad Ingredients for Blemish Free Skin.

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