Share Applying acid to your skin can sound scary but when it comes to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) they can provide the perfect pain-free polish for glowing, youthful-looking skin. Since working with chemical exfoliants does have some nuances, we’ve compiled our most frequently asked questions about AHAs to help you navigate and build the perfect regimen. What is an alpha hydroxy acid? AHAs are a group of molecules that share a similar chemical structure so can be classified under the same umbrella . These acids are often extracted from fruits like sugar beets, grapes, and apples, and come in different molecular sizes and shapes so each one behaves differently when applies to the skin . What do alpha hydroxy acids do for the skin? Since AHAs dissolve in water they primarily do work at the skin’s surface. Each AHA has it’s own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to skin benefits but in general AHAs dissolve the sticky, glue-like material that holds dead skin cells together . Once this material is dissolved, the skin is microscopically shed away. This removal of the top layer of skin also signals to produce new cells, increasing skin regeneration . Some AHAs, like glycolic acid, have been shown to increase collogen production in the skin, making it appear more supple and elastic . Other AHAs, like malic acid, act on pigment producing cells and can help reduce the appearance of dark spots . With the layer of dead skin gone from the surface of the epidermis, other products are better absorbed and pores are less likely to become blocked. The result is healthier looking skin that's less-prone to breakouts and with decreased visible signs of ageing . Features of different Alpha hydroxy acids: Glycolic acid – small molecular size, able to penetrate epidermis, boosts collagenLactic acid – gentle exfoliation, works at the surface, can also bind to water providing hydrationMalic Acid – doesn’t exfoliate but in combination with other AHAs can help brightenTartaric Acid – antioxidant properties and exfoliation abilitiesCitric Acid – can help pH balance a formula, can help other ingredients penetrate betterMendelic Acid – gentle exfoliation, antibacterial Who should avoid using alpha hydroxy acids? Those who are pregnant are advised not to use AHAs. Additionally, if you are not committed to wearing sunscreen daily or are on a prescription retinoid you should avoid using AHAs. How do I add alpha hydroxy acids to my regimen? Since you’re uncovering sensitive new skin its best not to directly mix AHAs with other active ingredients like vitamin C, retinoids, other acids, or enzymes to help prevent sensitivity and over exfoliation. Due to the low pH of AHAs, we recommend not mixing them with ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3) as it can render the AHAs ineffective. We recommend pairing your AHAs with hydrating products like hyaluronic acid (Or better yet, HydrExtreme), vitamin B5, vitamin E and a rich moisturizer. AHAs should be used on freshly cleansed skin under other serums and moisturizer. Is there anything I should know about using AHAs? As with any exfoliating product it’s important to always wear sunscreen during the day to prevent sun damage and stick to using AHAs only at night. Additionally, the skin can become accustomed to AHAs and it is recommended to use AHA products for one month with 2-4 weeks off to let your skin reset. Build the perfect Consonant AHA Regimen: Healthy Aging Support PM: Natural Foaming Face Wash Maximum Glycolic Meta Serum HydrExtreme Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream Healthy Aging Support AM: Splash face with water Vitamin C + Licorice Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream The Perfect Sunscreen Acne Fighter PM: Natural Foaming Face Wash Maximum Glycolic Meta Serum Balancing Face Cream Acne Fighter AM: Splash face with water Vitamin B3 + Zinc Balancing Face Cream The Perfect Sunscreen While we’re still searching for that one skin care ingredient to help solve all skin concerns, AHAs are excellent multi-functioning group of ingredients capable of targeting several mechanisms at once. Checkout our Maximum Glycolic Meta Serum for a 10% blend of AHAs!  Kneedler, J. A., Sky, S. S., & Sexton, L. R. (1998). Understanding alpha-hydroxy acids. Dermatology nursing, 10(4), 247-260.  Rona, C., Vailati, F., & Berardesca, E. (2004). The cosmetic treatment of wrinkles. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 3(1), 26-34.  Kapuścińska, A., & Nowak, I. (2015). Use of organic acids in acne and skin discolorations therapy. Postepy higieny i medycyny doswiadczalnej (Online), 69, 374-383.