Skin care routines can be confusing. Especially when you consider that lately we seem to be taking our cues from the Koreans, who firmly believe that any skin care routine with less than 10 steps isn’t worth doing.
So colour us incredibly relieved to hear that the solution to a radiant, glowing complexion (one that’s sans makeup, of course) isn’t necessarily ensuring that you have ticked off anywhere between five and 10 steps when tending to your skin, but rather it’s about being conscious of including a specific kind of ingredient in your skin care routine (even if that routine is just cleansing and moisturising).
That wonder ingredient your skin care routine may be missing? A simple acronym known as AHA, or more scientifically speaking, alpha hydroxy acid.
And who better to divulge how AHAs can benefit your skin than Ole Henriksen, skin cosmetician and founder of OleHenriksen. Famous for establishing a skin spa originally in Beverly Hills (and now in West Hollywood) that celebs flock to, his formulations (and mantra of having a positive outlook and zest for life) have a reputation for delivering the ‘Ole Glow’. We sat down with Henriksen to find out why AHAs are the key to glowing skin, how to incorporate them into a regular skin care routine (easily, too!), and what you need to be aware of when using AHAs.
What AHAs will do for skin
“AHAs will work below the skin’s surface and are clinically proven to strengthen and rebuild the collagen, and clinically proven to actually melt away excess sebum and excess oil... It will also gradually dissolve [milia and blackheads] and take inflammation down,” says Henriksen.
The most common AHAs
When it comes to ingredients that are classified as AHAs, the most common ones to be aware of are glycolic acid, lactic acid and malic acid, and then there’s fruit acids, like the citrus from lemon and orange, as well as enzymes from papaya extract.
How to use AHAs
For the most part, you can find AHAs in a gel, toner or serum that you’d use between cleansing and moisturising. OleHenriksen Invigorating Night Transformation Gel, Alpha- H Liquid Gold and Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic Serum are good examples of AHA treatments, but you can actually find AHAs in moisturisers, masks (more commonly called peels), and even eye creams.
For a nourishing AHA hit morning and night, try Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion, or if you’re just after a night cream that will deliver an extra boost of the exfoliating benefits of AHAs along with rejuvenating ingredients, try OleHenriksen Invigorating Night Transformation Crème. And for a concentrated dose of AHAs, try the OleHenkriksen Instant Transformation Lemon Facial Peel once a week.
While it’s all well and good to understand that AHAs can be the key to unlocking your inner glow, it must be noted: AHAs alone aren’t what’s going to give you a glowing complexion. “AHAs create a beautiful smooth palette that then will allow for all the other actives to work more effectively, so they pave the way for everything else to work even better. So if it’s just the AHAs, let’s say, on their own, then you won’t have that glow and suppleness. It’s the strip tease for the skin and so the beauty is what follows. It’s a two-step process,” says Henriksen.
So what kind of actives should you be looking to use in conjunction with your AHAs?
Henriksen reels off a few: “Essential fatty acids, whether it is your sesame, avocado, soya, grape seed…the list goes on. They cushion, they calm, they comfort, they help with elasticity, they are anti-inflammatory. Then, chamomile [and] aloe vera are naturally healing. Rosehip seed extracts are amazing for reparative healing. Algae extracts from the red to the brown – they calm [and] soothe. Lavender [is] anti-inflammatory and reparative. Eucalyptus on the other side of the spectrum [is] a purifier and antiseptic. All the different sources of vitamin C…”
To make life a bit easier for you, Henriksen has developed his AHA products (the Transform range) with active ingredients, so you don’t have to think twice about the best ingredients to pair with your daily dose of AHAs. But if you want to mix and match between his four ranges (the three others being Nurture for dry and sensitive skin, Balance for oily skin, and Truth for those seeking radiance and brightness) to suit your skin needs, each product is bursting with actives, so again, you can mindlessly wash, exfoliate and moisturise knowing you’ve ticked all the right boxes.
Why you should be careful when using AHAs
The benefits of AHAs sound great, right? Which is why it’s so easy to be tempted to go hard on the acids in an effort to exfoliate away the dullness and reveal your glow. But for your best skin ever, it’s wise to be patient and cautious. Over-exfoliating and over-using your AHAs can lead to skin that becomes sensitive, red, and tender. “It’s like exercise: it’s all about balance with everything. The skin is a living-breathing organ and has to last you a lifetime and that’s why it’s important to find that balance,” says Henriksen.
Looking to add more AHAs and BHAs into your skin care routine? Here are a few of the best AHAs and BHAs
Do you use AHAs? Please share with us in the comments section below
Main image credit: Getty
Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.