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Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are both chemical exfoliants that help remove dead skin cells that can cause skin to look dull while allowing the younger, healthier cells to show through.  Regular use of them may also improve the appearance of fine lines, stimulate collagen production and help increase the absorption of other active ingredients.

How do you decide which is right for you? Much depends on your skin type:

 •AHAs are perfect if you have normal to dry skin.  Derived from milk, fruit, and sugars, some of the most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids may be found in the form of:

Glycolic acid – Derived from sugar cane, this AHA is the most popular for skin treatments.  Its smaller molecule size allows it to penetrate the skin easily. Glycolic acid is a key ingredient in the [Link Removed]  line-up.

Lactic acid – Considered a gentler alternative to glycolic acid, lactic acid comes from milk.  Lactic acid, as found in [Link Removed] , has long been a favorite with those who suffer from eczema.  Cleopatra, famous for her beautiful skin, was rumored to have regularly soaked in milk baths.

Malic acid (from pears and apples) and Mandelic acid (from bitter almonds) – Both of these are found in high concentrations in the original [Link Removed]  line.  Because of their unique combination and slightly larger molecular structure, malic and mandelic acids penetrate the skin slower, more evenly and with less irritation than other AHAs.

 •If your skin is oily or acne prone, BHAs may be a better choice for you.  Unlike water-soluble AHAs, beta hydroxy acids are able to penetrate through oil as they exfoliate the dead skin sitting on the surface.  This makes them particularly effective in unblocking the clogged pores that can lead to pimples, blackheads and other blemishes on the skin.  BHAs are also different because they are found only in the form of salicylic acid.  [Link Removed]  line features salicylic acid and LHA, a derivative of salicylic acid, which are helpful in managing breakouts.

Interestingly enough, some studies have found that AHAs malic and mandelic acids can also penetrate oil like BHAs and may be effective in treating oily skin problems.

A warning: Exfoliants may cause some skin irritation so it's important to incorporate them into your routine slowly, giving your skin time to adjust. They can also increase sun sensitivity so it's also important to always use a stable, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB blocking sunscreen, like [Link Removed] .

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].
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Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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