Acne is a skin condition that results in inflammatory or non-inflammatory lesions. Commonly associated with teenage and adolescent skin, it actually affects many age groups at different stages of life.
Starting with AHA & BHA OTC products
Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) exfoliates skin cells by breaking down the substance in skin that holds skin cells together. The most effective and well-research AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid.
Beta hydroxy acid (BHA), also known as salicylic acid, is a multifunctional ingredient that addresses many of the systemic causes of blemishes. In concentrations of 1% to 2%, it is far more gentle, and, much like AHA, can exfoliate the surface of skin. In addition, unlike AHA, BHA has the ability to penetrate into the pore and therefore can exfoliate inside the pore as well as on the surface of the skin, which makes it effective for reducing blemishes, including blackheads and whiteheads.
Alpha hydroxy acid at 8% to 10% in a gel base is very effective at helping remove impactions. Alpha hydroxy acids help acne by removing dead cell buildup and loosening impactions in the skin. Coupled with salicylic acid and in more serious acne, benzoyl proxide or sulfur and resorcinol, this treatment can really help clogged skin and problem acne. After the acne has cleared, regular use can help keep follicles clearer of hyperkeratosis, helping to prevent comedones and other acne lesions.
Check you skin type
AHAs are best for those with normal to dry skin, and BHA is best for those with normal to oily or blemish-prone skin. This is because AHAs cannot penetrate oil and, therefore, cannot get into the pore lining. BHA can penetrate oil and, therefore, can get into the pore where it can improve and repair pore function while dissolving blockages of dead skin cells and oil that contribute to blackheads and acne. Whichever you choose, always monitor your skin’s response, especially if the skin starts to get irritation, stop the product immediately.
When using AHA & BHA OTC products
Because AHAs and BHA exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, there is a risk of increased sun sensitivity when using products with these ingredients. However, wearing a sunscreen eliminates this risk.
It is advisable not to use the AHA or BHA product if you are currently using prescription tretinoin (Retin-A or Renova®), adapalene (Differin®), or azelaic acid (Azelex®), or other prescription peeling agents.
Do not use the AHA or BHA product if the skin is already irritated, sunburned or under dermatologist’s care for any skin disorders.