Your Cart is Empty

The AHA Moment: Skin Benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids

September 23, 2019

The AHA Moment: Skin Benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Like many skincare ingredients, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have suffered their fair share of skepticism. The truth is, there are plenty of AHA skin benefits, but it’s important to understand the reasoning behind this skepticism and what you can do to safely get the best out of AHA skincare products. 

That’s why we’ve created this short guide to AHAs, their benefits for the skin, and how to use them safely.

What Are AHAs?

AHAs are natural (or sometimes synthetic) chemical compounds found in many skincare products such as aha cleansers, toners, creams, and serums. The three most common types found in AHA skincare products include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid. While these three types share many AHA skin benefits, a few aspects differentiate them.

Take a peek at our AHA cheat sheet below.

AHA Skincare Cheat Sheet


Derived from:

Best for:

glycolic acid

sugar cane


lactic acid



citric acid

citrus fruits

pH regulation

AHA Skin Benefits

So, what are the benefits of AHA for skin? Scientists have found plenty: 

  • They’re excellent exfoliators. Any way you look at it, AHAs are exfoliation all-stars (glycolic acid, especially). Studies show that AHAs increase skin cell renewal rate by penetrating the stratum corneum, or the protective outer layers of skin. This is the number one quality to look for in effective exfoliators, as this process turns over new, healthy skin, resulting in a fresher, brighter look.
  • They increase collagen production. Plenty of research has unveiled that AHAs increase collagen production and promote collagen synthesis. This is why AHA skincare products are often used to target fine lines, wrinkles, and photoaging.
  • They regulate skin pH. Since our skin is naturally slightly acidic, a skincare product with high alkalinity on the pH scale can result in a dry, dull complexion. AHA skincare products will often include citric acid as pH adjusters in order to achieve an ideal pH level for skin.

AHAs have also been proven to effectively treat the following:

  • dry/rough skin
  • acne
  • rosacea
  • eczema
  • psoriasis

How to Choose & How to Use AHA for Skin

With all of these proven AHA skin benefits, you may be wondering why there’s any skepticism around using AHA for skin.

Here’s the deal: using AHA products can sensitize the skin to UV light. However, this photosensitivity can be controlled by implementing these two safety rules when using AHAs in your skincare routine:

  1. Apply sunscreen. (Every. Single. Day.) The use of sunscreen in your daily skincare routine can reduce (or even eliminate!) any photosensitivity caused by AHAs. If you have very fair or sensitive skin, however, you’ll want to limit sun exposure after using AHA skincare products.
  2. Look for lower concentrations of AHAs. Using a safe AHA product, or one containing no more than 15% glycolic, lactic, or citric acid, is the smartest way to incorporate AHAs into your skincare routine. Studies have shown that higher concentrations of AHAs can increase the likelihood of photosensitivity.

It’s our philosophy that the best skincare routine involves both naturalandeffective products (AHAs — check and check!), but we especially encourage the safe use of these products. You don’t want to miss out on the skin benefits of AHAs, so grab some sunscreen and your favorite AHA product and enjoy the healthy, youthful look you deserve!