Harnessing the Power of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids for Wrinkle Reduction

Alpha-hydroxy acid can reduce wrinkles, age spots and acne. There are so many AHA products available today, that the following tips can help you choose the best one for your skin.

Researchers have only recently rediscovered a secret which girls have known for hundreds of years: acids derived from food and plants can reduce wrinkles, ease dryness and age spots. They may even treat pimples.

You don’t have to soak in buttermilk anymore. You can find Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs), in many different skin care products, from expensive spa formulas to drugstore brands. They’re made from a variety of natural substances, including citric acid, which is derived from lemons and oranges, glycolic acids, which are derived from sugarcane and lactic acids, malic and pyruvic acids, as well as tartaric and pyruvic from grapes.

What is the AHA?
AHAs dissolve the “glue” between cells that holds previous skin cells to the dermis. The result: Your skin’s outermost layer appears brighter and smoother. Jeanine Downie MD, a dermatologist board-certified in Montclair, NJ, says: “This is one of my favorite substances because it improves skin texture, tone and effective lines, as well as pimples.”

These skin smoothers can stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which are skin-supporting proteins. AHAs are also believed by some dermatologists to improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture, so that the tissue keeps its soft, padded firmness. AHAs can make skin more sensitive to sunlight. Dr. Downie suggests using them only at night and applying a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen every morning.

These professional ideas can also assist you to choose the right AHA product for you.

Don’t let “low” concentrations idiot you. AHA products purchased over the counter usually have AHA concentrations below 10 percent. These are mild and intended for everyday use (if you follow the instructions on the label). Dr. Downie says that a product with this concentration will exfoliate lightly but is suitable for everyday use.

Be affected person-and lifelike. The wrinkle smoothers sold in drugstores are gentle and slow. You may need to wait a few months before you see any visible distinction in pores and skin tone, effective lines or pores.

Use only one product. One AHA-containing product at a given time is best. Do not use a lotion or a cleanser. “That could be too irritating, except for very oily skin,” Dr. Downie says. Also, do not mix a drugstore cream with one purchased at a doctor’s office or a prescription wrinkle product. Exfoliating your skin too much will leave it red and irritated.

Use sparingly. Use only a dime-sized amount on your face. Using too much can cause irritation, redness and burning.

AHAs should not be used on the delicate tissues around the eyes unless the cream has been specifically designed for this purpose. The facial products are too heavy and do not contain the necessary moisturizers for this area.

Want quicker results? See a dermatologist. In the dermatologist’s office, you will receive a chemical peel using AHAs at concentrations of up to 45 percent. “These can be done as often as every 4 to 6 week and you will see results after just a few treatments,” says Dr. Downie. Remember that higher concentrations will result in quicker results, but also more downtime. Expect some peeling and redness for 4 days following a treatment with 45 percent AHA. This may last longer if you use a higher concentration.


Jeanine Downie is a dermatologist board-certified in Montclair, NJ.
FDA: “Alpha Hydroxy Acids.”
S. Manjula Jegasothy MD reviewed my medical records on September 1, 2019.