Free uk delivery on all of our products    we ship worldwide for £6.95



What are Hydroxy Acids? Which ones right for me?

3rd September, 2018 by Andrea

Unfortunately, your skin can look a bit worse for wear after the summer as it is exposed to strong sun and other summer-related environmental factors.

To address those summer setbacks, I suggest using products containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s), which will help to exfoliate, rejuvenate, clear and smooth the skin, as well as reduce fine lines and even out skin tone.

So you may ask what are AHA’S…

Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs, are fruit acids and the most common examples are lactic, glycolic and mandelic acids.

Lactic acid is found in milk, glycolic acid can be sourced from sugar cane and mandelic acid is derived from almonds.

Glycolic Acid

Recognised as the best performing AHA due to its small molecular size, so it can penetrate the skin fastest and deepest.

Studies show that because it penetrates the deepest, glycolic acid is the most effective at stimulating collagen production which makes this ideal for sun-damaged skin, ageing & mature skin.

I would say that it is not well tolerated by everybody, especially sensitive skin types. The best way to introduce glycolic acid is slowly, and you may experience tingling or flaking initially as you skin starts getting used to it.

Lactic Acid

Like glycolic acid, lactic acid exfoliates and increases moisture in the skin, and also increases hyaluronic acid levels in the skin.

Because lactic acid is made up of larger molecules, it is more gentle and less irritating than other acids, so it is ideal for sensitive and drier skin types.

Mandelic Acid

Mandelic Acid is far less common than the above acids in cosmetic products. However it still offers the same benefits of exfoliation.

Mandelic acid is oil-soluble and has added anti-bacterial properties which helps to kill acne bacteria.

I would suggest using salicylic acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid, or BHA) when it comes to treating acne & oily skin types, but if you have acne as well as very sensitive skin, go for products containing mandelic acid.

My advice when using AHA’s is to increase the percentage strength slowly, so don’t start off on a high percentage of glycolic in your products to begin with. Maybe start with a 4%, then progress to 8%, then up to a 15%.

Also if you are using more than one product containing AHA’s, introduce them slowly. It is not advisable to start using 2 or 3 products that contain AHA’s all at once as this may cause irritation.

As I stated previously, when using AHA’s, you may experience initial irritation, dryness, flaking, purging and tingling which is normal in general. However, if you do experience burning and redness, discontinue using the product and contact your skin care advisor.

It is also worth noting that glycolic, lactic & mandelic acids can be used during pregnancy.


Welcome to the Dermacare Direct skincare blog…   Here you can gain an insight into professional skincare regimes, products & devices. Andrea and her team of experts provide practical advice and professional tips on a range of skincare issues – ageing, acne, scars, troubled skin & many more interesting topics about your skin

Follow Us

Related Posts

Ingredient Spotlight: Retinol

18th July, 2019

The #1 skincare ingredient known to visibly firm, smooth and brighten skin   Retinol is a form of vitamin A… Read More

Ingredient Spotlight: Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA’s)

17th July, 2019

Polyhydroxy Acids or PHA’s are the next generation of alpha hydroxy acids. PHA’s are similar to AHA’s in that they… Read More

Colorescience Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy – Product Review

15th July, 2019

Treat your eyes to Total Eye™ 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35 to visibly improve the appearance of dark circles, puffiness,… Read More