*In the photo above I am a wearing tinted sunscreen moisturizer.
A while ago I posted a pic of my best friend [+] on one of the hair forums and the number one comment (besides how fly her hair looked) was about her skin. Everyone wanted to know her skin regimen. The answer to that question was simple — genetics. The girl has some of the smoothest, blemish free skin of anyone I know and she does nothing special — soap, water, and moisturizer. For the rest of us, including myself, skin care is not so simple.
Zits. Scars. Rough. Uneven Skin-Tone.
These are all characteristics of those who did not strike the good-skin gene. I was introduced to the use of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) early in my teenage years with quarterly trips to the esthetician. There, she would complete extractions (popping my huge zits with steam and a fancy zit popping tool) and follow up with a pumpkin enzyme exfoliating mask. For home care I would use a retinol-based care kit. Now that I am of child-bearing age, I forgo the retinol products and stick with exfoliating treatments instead. See my skin before consistent exfoliation [+] — Don’t be alarmed lol.
How Beta Hydroxy Acid Works
Beta hydroxy acid works mainly as an exfoliant. It causes the cells of the epidermis to become “unglued” allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. Beta hydroxy acid is reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photo-damaged skin after at least 6 months of daily application. Beta hydroxy acid found in skin-care products works best in a concentration of 1% to 2% and at a pH of 3 to 4.
Cleanser: Oil-Free Acne Wash [+]
Toner: Oil Eliminating Astringent [+]
Moisturizer: Oil-Free Dual Action Moisturizer [+]
Treatment: Pore Therapy 2% Salicylic Acid [+]
Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Chemical Peels
Alpha hydroxy acids in various concentrations are used in chemical peels. The concentration determines who can use it. Alpha hydroxy acid products sold to consumers must have a concentration of less than 10%. Trained cosmetologists can use alpha hydroxy acid products that have a concentration of 20% to 30%. These chemical peels give results that are similar to microdermabrasion – erasing fine lines and giving the skin a smoother appearance with 1 to 3 applications. However, these treatments must be repeated every 3 to 6 months to maintain this skin appearance. Doctors can use alpha hydroxy acid products that have a concentration of 50% to 70%. These treatments also erase fine wrinkles and remove surface scars, but the effects last longer – up to 2 to 5 years. The higher the alpha hydroxy acid concentration used in a chemical peel, the more skin irritation occurs. At the 50% to 70% concentration, a person could expect to have severe redness, flaking, and oozing skin that can last for 1 to 4 weeks.
Cleanser: Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser [+]
Toner: Glycolic Tea Tree Pads [+]
Moisturizer: Glycolic Therapy Cream [+]
Treatment: Smoothing Gel [+]
The Difference Between Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids
The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid is their lipid (oil) solubility. Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble only, while beta hydroxy acid is lipid (oil) soluble. This means that beta hydroxy acid is able to penetrate into the pore which contains sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells that are built up inside the pore. Because of this difference in properties, beta hydroxy acid is better used on oily skin with blackheads and whiteheads. Alpha hydroxy acids are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem [+]