ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS - TRUTH & MYTH
There is a lot of information out about alpha hydroxy acids, however, much of it is misleading or simply untrue. Separating the truth from the rumours can be nearly impossible for the average person. Here are a few of the common myths surrounding alpha hydroxy acids.
Myth #1: Alpha hydroxy acids thin the skin. Actually, if one is using natural acids, it is quite the opposite. AHAs appear to have dermal affects that influence the formation of collagen. Alpha hydroxy acids, on topical application to photo-aged skin, have been shown to substantially increase skin thickness. Skin biopsies reveal increased synthesis of collagen.
Myth #2: Alpha hydroxy acids cause sun sensitivity. Used correctly in natural forms and applied at night only or during an in-salon treatment, alpha hydroxy acids do not increase sun sensitivity. Sun sensitivity occurs when skin is irritated and inflammation occurs as can happen with chemical, synthetic buffered acids. Those with very fair colouring are especially susceptible to this since their skin tends to be more sensitive. For those with more sensitive skin, use of a non-irritating AHA such as lactic acid, will help one avoid this problem.
Myth #3: Use of Salicylic Acid (or another beta hydroxy acid) or a Mechanical Facial Scrub will produce identical exfoliation benefits. Salicylic acid works from the uppermost layer of the skin, dissolving skin layer by layer. Mechanical Scrubs work only to remove already loosened skin cells on the upper layer of skin. Alpha hydroxy acids work at the lowermost levels of the stratum corneum (outer layer of skin). It appears that AHAs modulate new stratum corneum formation by weakening the bonds between corneocytes (a type of skin cell) at the lowest levels of the stratum corneum. This activity on the formation encourages a smoother, flatter cell layout in the stratum corneum. This new distribution of cells is particularly useful for prepping skin for peels.
Myth #4: Anti-Wrinkle benefits of AHAs are due to their exfoliating nature. While it is true that the exfoliating nature of AHAs contribute to softer skin that is more even in tone, the clinical effects of AHAs in modifying wrinkles and photo-ageing are due to increased skin thickness and new collagen formation.
Myth #5: When using AHAs, the skin looks smoother because the skin is swollen from inflammation. Improvements in wrinkles are not due to inflammation or any oedema formation (excess accumulation of fluid in tissue spaces). Examination of biopsied skin specimens before and after treatment with AHAs confirms that skin plumpness and other beneficial effects are sustained long after discontinuation of topical treatment.
Chemical peels include NATURAL alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy peels, as these are plant chemicals and are typically used to restore a youthful, vibrant appearance to wrinkly, blotchy, sun-damaged skin. There are 3 main types of chemical face peels and each has unique benefits for the skin. Light, medium and deep. These all, to some degree, improve acne scars, skin texture, reduce the effects of sun damage, smooth surface wrinkles, correct pigmentation problems and age spots. With most chemical peels adverse reactions are rare, but can, with deeper chemical or synthetic acids, include scarring, infection, hyperpigmentation (patchy darkening of skin) and hypopigmentation (patchy lightening of skin). There are dramatically varying recovery times.
The secret is always within the actual formulation. Always check what the main actives are within the peeling formula, whether it has been chemically buffered (beware of these as chemicals have been added to stabilize the product and some contain substances such as ammonium hydroxide which is also good for cleaning drains!!) because some of these buffering agents can cause major irritation, which can result in pigmentation. Check whether it is safe to use all year round, or like many, just in the winter time.
HOW TO ACHIEVE AND MAINTAIN SKIN HEALTH
One must always consider more than the aesthetics (the way skin looks), the immediate smoothness that a harsh, buffered, synthetic peel can achieve, and compare this to the therapeutic, skin health issue. We have all heard about malignant MELANOMAS, these are due to cell changes within the melanocytes (pigment cells) within the deep epidermis. Not to forget BASAL CELL CARCINOMAS, these are due to cell changes within the basal layer, again the living part of the deep epidermis as it meets the dermis.
If one undergoes regular 'Peel and Heal' treatments and maintains with correct home care, one minimizes the chance of cell changes. Once-off peels are of little benefit, especially if one has a particular skin problem such as pigmentation or one has previously suffered from skin cancer. A series of peels ensures gradual improvement with the safest and best end result. Many people are not candidates for laser skin resurfacing or deep peels so the RégimA 'Peel and Heal' offers the safest option, with a more gradual improvement which is then easily and cost effectively maintained. RégimA 'Peel and Heal' is safe to use all year round and has proven benefits for all skin types, all problems, all ethnicities, all age groups, male and female. RégimA only uses NATURAL acids and therefore there are no potential side effects.
NATURAL ACIDS COMPARED TO SYNTHETIC ACIDS
Not all alpha hydroxy acids are created equal. Some are more irritating or more moisturizing, some are better for breakouts and some are stronger than others. Natural AHAs are in unbuffered (without chemicals to keep them stable) formulations and tend to have a greater impact on the skin. One of the significant benefits of alpha hydroxy acids is that they do not increase the blood vessels in the skin like some other acids. Therefore, they do not result in redness of the face and do not exacerbate broken capillaries.
Natural acids are more skin friendly, more easily tolerated and offer more therapeutic benefits without side effects. The 'Peel and Heal' does not in any way make the skin more sun sensitive. Chemical, synthetic (man-made) peels, deeper peels such as Trichloracetic Acid (TCA) and Phenol must only be undertaken during winter months.
These peels can be effective in certain skin types but are much more high risk of uneven pigmentation and scarring. A phenol peel is only undertaken by a doctor and is usually only undertaken once and the patient will always require a thicker foundation to cover the treated area as inevitably there is pigment loss following this procedure.
IMPORTANT: If the acid is too strong, discoloration may occur, as can scarring, especially for those on Roaccutane. Some people don't respond well to glycolic acid and they break out in fine bumps (notes Dr Cheryl Burgess, Dermatologist, Washington DC). AHAs must only be used at night or during an in-salon treatment for rejuvenation. Synthetic AHAs in particular can cause irritation and when applied in daytime products can ultimately lead to dehydration and pigmentation, even if they contain an SPF. AHAs are time dependent acids and they work constantly on the skin until neutralized off. For this reason it does not make any sense, and is potentially extremely harmful to the skin, if one cleanses with an AHA cleanser, followed by AHA day and night products!!
AHAs & BHAs
Malic Acid and Citric Acid have both Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acid function so provide much more benefit than many other acids.
Because AHAs and BHAs work through natural chemical processes, they can penetrate the skin and produce better results than cosmetic scrubs, which work only on the exposed surface of the skin. And, there is no risk that AHAs and BHAs will cause you to lose too much skin. Technically, there is a drop-off rate, meaning the AHA and BHA will exfoliate just the dead or damaged surface skin and leave the healthy skin alone. It is important to note that continued use of an AHA or BHA product is required in order to maintain skin's smooth, even-toned, healthy appearance.
The primary difference between AHAs and BHAs is that AHAs are water-soluble, while BHAs are lipid-(oil) soluble. This unique property of BHA allows it to penetrate the oil in the pores and exfoliate accumulated skin cells inside the oil gland that can clog pores. BHA is best used where blackheads and blemishes are the issue and makes them ideal for skin conditions that may be a result of bacteria. AHAs are best for sun-damaged, thickened, dry skin where breakouts are not a problem.
It is interesting to note that AHAs provide the added benefit of helping to keep water in the skin at the same time that exfoliation is taking place. This is due to the way they affect skin cells adding increased protection. AHAs can also increase the production of ceramides in the skin, which help keep it moist and healthy. While BHAs penetrate deeper into the pore than AHAs, they can be less irritating than AHAs. AHA and BHA products can definitely smooth the skin, fade signs of sun damage, correct uneven skin tone, improve texture, unclog pores, and give the appearance of plumper, firmer skin (because more healthy skin cells are now on the surface). Unfortunately, they have no residual effect, when you stop using them the skin will go back to the condition it was in before.
LACTIC ACID - Natural
Is the mildest and most effective AHA available and is derived from milk or of plant origin. It is generally recognized that lactic acid is the best performing hydroxy acid and it is therefore a first choice of RégimA. Of all AHAs and BHAs, lactic is one of the most skin friendly and exhibits excellent cell renewal activities. Lactic exhibits additional properties also, it moisturizes and possesses the ability to increase ceramide levels. Lactates are safe and mild and can achieve a significant skin lightening effect. Lactates can be used successfully in combination with other NATURAL AHAs. Lactates work synergistically with Vitamin C with a reported skin lightening result. Formulating at a lower pH, as with the strictly NATURAL acids, there is an increased effectiveness in lightening with better penetration and exfoliating action.
MALIC ACID Natural
Malic Acid is derived from apples and is a first choice of RégimA because it is an AHA and BHA so has dual power providing benefit for more skin types and rejuvenates mature, sun damaged skins as well as unblocking oily, acneform skins. It is a natural humectant, which draws water into the epidermis. This helps keep the skin hydrated. Malic Acid is also a known antioxidant. In addition to its exfoliating and moisturizing properties, malic acid can help protect the skin against free radical damage due to sun and pollution exposure.
CITRIC ACID - Natural
Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits and is a first choice of RégimA because it is an AHA and BHA so has dual power providing benefit for more skin types and rejuvenates mature, sun damaged skins as well as unblocking oily, acneform skins. Citric acid also has the particular benefit of evening out pigmentation. It has a powerful action without the irritation experienced with some other acids that are adulterated by chemical stabilizers.
HIBISCUS FLOWER ACID - Natural
Research shows extracted components of the plant have antioxidant, antitumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. Inhibits pigmentation, limits the melanin transfer and has a moisturizing and lightening effect on the skin while at the same time exfoliating. This subtropical flower contains a mixture of various hydroxyacids and polysaccharides. Their mild action improves the skin's structure and moisturization, makes it look more even. This ingredient is extremely effective in stimulating cell regeneration in the skin - improving the overall condition, health and appearance of the skin.
GLYCOLIC ACID Natural or Synthetic if buffered
The most common AHA peel is glycolic acid. This is a synthetic acid and therefore a very cheap acid to use. Because this is a man made acid it requires chemically stabilizing, which is called buffering. Glycolic penetrates rapidly and is the most irritating of the group. The possibility of irritation makes glycolic more suitable for those with mature or non-sensitive skins. It is NOT a choice of RégimA.
NATURAL SUGAR CANE - Natural
Pure Natural Sugar Cane is very different from synthesized glycolic acid. The sugar cane plant absorbs trace elements/micro nutrients from the soil, so it is enhanced and therefore, besides glycolic, also contains: calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, chromium, boron and cobalt. Some of these elements serve as activators for several enzymes involving the synthesis of fatty acids, DNA and RNA. One obviously does not get these extra elements with synthesized peels so it is a very different ingredient.
POLYHYDROXY ACID - Natural
Often referred to as lunchtime peels may produce results on early signs of ageing only. Polyhydroxy (PHAs) acids have a large molecular structure so do not penetrate and only therefore work on the outer epidermis. (Ingredients MUST be of a MICROMOLECULAR structure in order to achieve penetration). It therefore works very superficially so is extremely mild. Of course this results in reduced irritation and less potential side effects and there will be no subsequent photosensitivity. Do you know why? Because there is very superficial penetration. This type of 'pseudo peeling' will be achieved by using any face scrubbing, abrasive. This cannot be called a therapeutic action as one achieves with RégimA. These very superficial peels are therefore only beneficial to people in the 20s and 30s with fine lines and very mild pigmentation. They are of little benefit to the mature, sun damaged, ageing skins because of the limited penetration into the skin.
MANDELIC ACID- Bitter almonds
Caution: Requires chemical processing with hydrochloric acid, sodium cyanide, potassium cyanide and benzene!!
Has a large molecular structure so causes less irritation than some other AHAs because penetration is more superficial. An extensive chemical process is required to produce a peeling substance for topical application. This process includes the use of hydrochloric acid, sodium cyanide, potassium cyanide and benzene, which is a known carcinogen! This is an acid that has not yet been used extensively and lacks the medical research backing that other AHAs and BHAs have, so long term side effects have not been established.
To see how mandelic acid is processed visit the following:
TRICHLORACETIC ACID (TCA) - Chemical
Do not take Roaccutane for at least six months after a TCA peel. There are reports of scarring in people who have taken Roaccutane after a TCA peel.
TCA is classified as a medium layer dependent peel and is usually undertaken by a medical practitioner. These peels should only be performed once every couple of years (unless at very low concentrations). The drawback is that a medium peel makes the skin on the face look like a severe sunburn for at least one week and there may be severe crusting, depending on the length of time left on the skin and the condition of the skin. A person having a medium peel must stay in for one week to recover from the procedure. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of peel. Not suitable for young skins, black, coloured or Indian. The results from this peel can be unpredictable and sometimes hyper or hypopigmentation results 6 to 8 weeks following this chemical peel.
PHENOL PEEL - Chemical
This peel is undertaken by mainly plastic surgeons. It is a corrosive, deep peel. It can have significant impact on deep wrinkles, especially around the mouth. However, the drawback is that inevitably there is loss of pigment in the treated area. Phenol peels must be done in a hospital environment because they are known to affect the heart. Because deep chemical peels can cause permanent darkening of the skin, called hyperpigmentation, or permanent lightening of the skin, called hypopigmentation, they are generally not recommended for patients with darker skin. Phenol peels pose a special risk for patients who have a family history of heart disease, so any patient considering the procedure should inform his or her physician in the pre-treatment consultation of any family connection to heart problems. Additionally, because deep chemical peels generally require anaesthesia, there is a risk of anaesthesia-related complications occurring during the procedure.
IMPORTANT NOTE OF WARNING
Synthetic, chemically buffered acids like glycolic or deeper penetrating acids such as TCA and phenol SHOULD NOT be the acids of choice for younger skins, pigmented, Indian, coloured or black skins as the greater irritation may lead to uneven pigmentation. The more melanin (pigment cells) the skin possesses, the greater the danger from deep chemical peels and certain laser treatments.
RégimA does not use Glycolic Acid for the following reason:
The American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has for many years written reports on the safety of ingredients used within the cosmetic industry. In a report revised in May 1999 the following statement was made regarding glycolic acid by the FDA in the United States:
FDA: "Another study that looked at the effects of glycolic acid on production of sunburn cells (markers for UV-induced skin damage) found that people who received the glycolic AHA product in the presence of UV radiation experienced twice the cell damage in areas where the glycolic AHA had been applied than those who were treated with the non-AHA product (during the day). FDA's concern is that people who are sensitive to sunlight may be particularly susceptible to UV rays, which can damage the skin and, over a long period, can cause skin cancer."
WHAT DOES BUFFERING OF ACIDS MEAN?
Synthetic (man-made) acids/peeling agents require buffering (stabilizing of the acidity pH) using chemical agents in order to stabilize. Some of the chemicals used in synthetic peels are very harsh e.g. Ammonium hydroxide (which is used as a drain cleaner!!). Some of these chemicals cause severe skin irritation and subsequent pigmentation. Buffered acids are used by some companies for in-salon treatments and home care (not used by RégimA). Synthetic acids such as glycolic, are cheaper to manufacture. Certain chemicals may have an irritating effect in certain skins. Synthetic acids can cause a short, sharp, shock to the skin. When this occurs one may experience superficial peeling, however, there is no long-term therapeutic action. Natural AHAs do not require any chemical intervention to stabilize, are more easily absorbed and cell regeneration is enhanced with more rapid healing and without irritation.
RégimA only uses NATURAL acids so NO chemical buffering is required and therefore there are no potential side effects.
A synthetic peel at pH 3.5 (irrespective of %) will only be 1/100th as strong as a peel at pH 1.5. Buffered peels means the acid is partially neutralized to a higher pH, means it is weak and less effective.
MAINTENANCE IS IMPORTANT
The effects of the RégimA facial and body peels are enhanced by our home care essentials which have been formulated to work synergistically. Ask your doctor or skin care professional which are the best options for your particular skin type or problem.
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