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Glycolic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) - a class of natural exfoliants found in many plants. It loosens the intracellular glue that holds your skin together and speeds along the skin shedding process that slows down with age. If you use it regularly as part of your skincare routine, it will:
Many plants – like orange, apples, pears, lemons, and grapes – contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHA's) known to exfoliate and clarify the skin. These include:
The most researched of these are glycolic and lactic acids. Glycolic acid is generally considered to be the most effective because it’s the smallest molecule of the bunch and therefore the most easily absorbed.
Lactic and malic acid, on the other hand, are slightly gentler and a good place to start for sensitive skin.
AHA's dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface of your skin, thereby evenly exfoliating the skin. This encourages cell turnover, increases the rate of skin repair, and helps nutrients reach the inner layers of the skin. Its visible benefits include:
Roughly 99% of the AHA's found in cosmetics are synthetically-derived, including the highly concentrated peels and related products on the market. They work, and at the concentrations available over-the-counter (usually below 3%), they’re not likely to irritate or over-dry the skin.
But 8 Saints chooses to incorporate fruit acids as a key ingredient in skincare products. Why make the effort to go the natural route when virtually all other products are made with synthetic AHA's?
Synthetic products are typically harsher on your skin, both because of their higher concentrations and because they can contain other (possibly unwanted) ingredients. Synthetic glycolic acid, in particular, has a by-product called formic acid that can cause a stinging sensation. No thank you!
Plus, synthetic AHAs may not even offer any benefits. That's according to a study that compared a natural fruit acid mix (of sugar cane, orange, sugar maple, and lemon) to synthetic lactic acid and synthetic glycolic acid. It found that the fruit mix had better therapeutic results.
Finally, keep in mind that that AHA’s are great at promoting absorption of other active ingredients in your beauty regimen. If you’re using botanical extracts and fruit-derived sources, those active ingredients are also natural, easy to pronounce, and thus better for your body.
If nothing else, you can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that you’re reducing the number of artificial chemicals that you’re putting on your body. All without sacrificing the exfoliation and the glow you're looking for.
Precautions: Start slow with AHA's - glycolic acid can cause mild irritation, redness, or itching if you have sensitive skin. Not sure how your skin will react? Start slow, check on your results, and take it from there.