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New Age Attitude Toward AHAs

July 22, 2008

Solutions for wrinkles, pigmentation, acne and sagging skin continue to be sought out and coveted by the aging boomer generation with no end in sight. The maturing face has the right to maximize its beauty and allure, as well as erase the signs of aging with proven modalities for optimal clinical results. With countless surgical and noninvasive options available, the esthetician or medical professional can find selecting the perfect clinical remedy a significant challenge.

Up until the past few years, the primary weapon of choice has been invasive cosmetic surgery procedures such as blepharoplasty (eye lift), rhytidectomy (face lift), endoscopic brow lift, lower eyelid surgery, facial implants, laser skin resurfacing, Botox* and collagen, including the new generation of injectable fillers.

However, given these surgical age management options, news from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery publicized that of the 11.5 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2005, 80% were nonsurgical.

Who is spearheading this revolution for noninvasive anti-aging demands? The answer could lie in the fact that there is a stronger emphasis on health and longevity with today’s aging population now more educated to the good, bad and ugly part of invasive surgical procedures and challenging the traditional methods of surgery. This new age attitude has created a major demand for more unorthodox remedies without undergoing anesthesia, needles and the knife. Due to this phenomenon, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, medical spas and skin care clinics have established a timely resurgence of alpha hydroxy acid peels and products, rediscovering their benefits and anti-aging abilities.

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* Botox is a registered trade name of Allergan, Inc., Irvine, CA.

Understanding Acids

Not Dated

This informative and timely editorial was written in the spirit of education to provide a basic understanding of AHA acids and for all skin care specialists to use this information as a scientific guide. As a result of this article, information is presented that also represents the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA), the CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel), and the skin care industry’s current philosophy on this topic. It is not my intent to act as a representative for the FDA, CIR, or the public.

My position is to clear up the continued confusion and misunderstanding as it relates to AHAs and I submit myself as an expert on the subject of acids as a science based professional product formulator, licensed Master Esthetician, and how acids relate to various conditions of the skin to achieve end point results with my 20+ years of experience using this ingredient.

What is an AHA Acid?

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of organic acids that vary in the number of carbon molecules. The information available on these very studied ingredients could fill the Library of Congress. Hydroxy acids are organic carboxylic acids classified into A- and B- types (AHA, BHA) according to their molecular structure. Both AHAs and BHAs exhibit similar effects, however AHAs are classified as a ‘wounding agent’ and BHAs are recognized as “non-wounding agent” by the chemistry of their action on the skin. Chemical structure and natural source AHAs range from simple aliphatic compound to complex molecules.

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