Skin Health Magazine Issue #12 / Summer-Autumn 2019 - Page 25

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT POLY-HYDROXY ACIDS I t seems we simply can’t get enough of acids in our skin care products. Just when you’ve got your head around AHAs and BHAs, along comes another type of acid to shake up your skin care routine. Described as second generation AHAs, Polyhydroxy Acids are the gentler, more tolerable cousin to the intense cell-shedding Alpha Hydroxy Acid family we all know and love. Time for some science. PHAs have a larger molecular structure than AHAs which, in simple terms, means two key things: they can’t penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and they don’t cause that satisfying yet slightly uncom- fortable stinging sensation during application. Instead, PHAs do the majority of their work at the surface, breaking down and dissolving the substance bonding dead cells onto the epidermis so that your skin can shed them more effectively. This not only improves tone and texture, but creates a clearer pathway to the deeper layers for any other active formulas in your routine. Think how much quicker your skin will respond to that new serum now it doesn’t have to contend with a dense layer of dead cells. Their gentle exfoliating properties have made PHAs a popular choice for those with sensitive and easily inflamed complexions who still want to combat dullness and bumps, but these acids are more than just a one trick pony. They also possess humectant properties, meaning they keep the skin hydrated, and are able to minimise inflammation. Hold on, we’re not done. PHAs have also been shown to support and strengthen skin barrier function, which is why they are often included in topical eczema treatments and skin-smoothing creams. If you have always shied away from combining acids and Retinol in your routine, it’s time to rethink things. PHAs can be combined with other acids (yes, both AHAs and BHAs) and even Retinol, often in the same formula, as the two ingredients tend to work with instead of against each other for the most dramatic skin-perfecting results. When shop- ping for PHA-based products, check the ingredients list for Gluconolactone, Lactobionic Acid and Maltobionic Acid, three of the most popular PHAs in skin care. Even though PHAs sit on the milder side of the exfoliation scale, they are still helping to resurface the skin, so it’s important to use a sunscreen in any routine where a PHA, AHA or BHA is utilised. That’s one thing they do have in common. ISSUE #12 | 2019 | 25