Why is it that as we age, our skin becomes dry, rough and lackluster? To answer this question, it helps to understand the life cycle of a skin cell.
A new skin cell starts off its journey fresh and plump in the deep layers of the skin. This skin cell is then programmed to self-destruct, moving upwards through the skin’s layers and becoming drier and flatter.
By the time our skin cell reaches the stratum corneum, the layer of skin that you can see, it is dead and is ready to be sloughed off to make room for the next skin cell.
The longer this process takes, the drier and duller your skin will look. When we are young, it takes only 28 days on average for the life cycle of a skin cell to be complete and the skin’s outermost layer to be replaced.
As we get older, this process becomes erratic, slower, and less efficient, taking 30 to 40 days or more and leading to the characteristic dull, dry skin, and rough, scaly patches.
This is where Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) come in to save the day! AHAs are naturally occurring organic substances that promote the exfoliation of dead skin cells and accelerate the life cycle and replacement of new skin cells.
AHAs work by dissolving the “glue” that holds the dead skin cells in place, making it easier for dead skin cells to shed and revealing the younger, smoother cells underneath. AHAs can also soften fine lines and improve skin discoloration by revealing fresher, brighter skin.
AHAs come in the following forms:
Citric Acid: from citrus fruits
Malic Acid: from apples
Glycolic Acid: from sugar cane
Mandelic Acid: from bitter almond
Lactic Acid: from milk and other dairy products
Phytic Acid: from rice
Tartaric Acid: from grapes
Glycolic acid is considered the most effective Alpha Hydroxy Acid because its small molecular size allows for deeper penetration into the skin. However, glycolic acid can also be the most irritating and is best used under the supervision of a skin care professional.
You have probably also heard of Salicylic Acid which is a Beta Hydroxy Acid. Beta Hydroxy Acids are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin types because of their superior ability to exfoliate dead skin cells and oil from clogged pores. However, Beta Hydroxy Acids tend to dry out the skin which is why Alpha Hydroxy Acids are preferred to treat mature skin which tends to be drier.
Did you know that Alpha Hydroxy Acids are so common that they can be found in your own kitchen? Freshen up your at-home skincare routine with my favorite DIY Rejuvenating AHA Masque:
1 tablespoon apple juice (contains malic acid)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (contains citric acid)
1 tablespoon orange juice (contains citric acid and vitamin c)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (contains lactic acid)
Combine the above ingredients and mix thoroughly. Apply a generous layer to your face and leave on for 20 minutes or until dry. Rinse off with warm water. Afterwards, your skin will look brighter and smoother. Extras can be kept in the fridge to be used within a week.
If you would rather leave your skin care treatments to the professionals, U. Med Spa is offering a free glycolic or lactic acid peel with the purchase of any facial until August 31st!
Give us a call at 972.943.UMED (8633) to schedule your next appointment or book online.
Have a question about skincare or anything else? Email us!