AHA: Three letters you need to know when it comes to anti-ageing skincare

There’s a reason alpha hydroxy acids are popular when it comes to a radiant visage.

You’re not alone if you’re finding trying to choose the right anti-ageing skincare products in today’s crowded market a tad confusing.

It can feel like you need a science degree, as well as a week off work, to work out which out of a long list of ingredients help reduce the visible signs of ageing.

Turns out you’ll get a head start by remembering just three simple letters: A, H and A.

What are AHAs, and why do you need them?

AHA is short for alpha hydroxy acids. These gentle exfoliating acids, found naturally in several foods and plants, can help revitalise dry, dull, wrinkled or ageing skin.

Long recognised as having effective anti-ageing benefits,[1] AHAs act on the top layer of our skin, helping slough away dead skin cells from the surface to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and allow younger, more vibrant skin to emerge.

AHAs also help reduce water loss from the skin to help improve hydration and give you firmer, fresher and more radiant-looking skin.

The moisturising effect also helps to improve skin texture, helping you to maintain an overall glow.

In 2014 Australian researchers[2] found using anti-aging skincare products containing AHAs and vitamins significantly improved the appearance of wrinkles, skin texture and elasticity.

And a 2012 study[3] by Germany’s Regensburg University Hospital found AHAs not only lead to exfoliation, but also increase hydration.

Researchers reported “patients assess their skin as more tensile, firmer, smoother and more youthful looking” after the use of products containing AHAs.

Which Alpha Hydroxy Acids help combat skin ageing?

While there are others that have benefits, the most commonly used AHAs are glycolic and lactic acids.

Glycolic Acid

This is the smallest of all the AHAs, allowing it to effectively penetrate the skin. It’s considered the most used and studied[4] acid in the skincare world.

It works by loosening the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to the skin. Shedding them promotes the emergence of new cells, helping to unlock your glow[5].

Lactic Acid

Found naturally in milk, lactic acid can now be synthetically produced.

Another darling of the skincare world, lactic acid has been found to improve the look[6] of fine lines and wrinkles.

It also makes a good skin moisturiser as it helps retain water in the skin, as well as exfoliating dead skin cells.4

Helps explain why milk baths have been popular through the ages for those wanting beautiful skin.

What to be aware of when you start using AHAs

Because AHAs are chemical exfoliants they can cause your skin to tingle, particularly when you’re new to using them.

So start slowly with a product that contains a small amount of AHAs, and gradually work your way up to the heavy-hitting serums.

Other gold-star ingredients to look for in anti-ageing products

There are also a few superstar vitamins (think E, C, B3 and Pro vitamin B5) that can really help lift your skincare game, so look for products incorporating these with AHAs to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

Tip: Vitamin B3 is also known as niacinamide in many beauty products and is a great multi-tasking ingredient, with research showing[7] it can significantly improve the appearance of aged skin.

Elucent’s Anti-Ageing range uses a combination of AHAs and vitamins that are clinically proven to be effective at improving the appearance of skin.

Not only that – the Elucent range is Australian owned and made, not tested on animals and easy to use as part of a daily routine.

So make AHA your three favourite letters for skincare and get ready to unlock your glow in 2020.

*Written by Liz McGrath.

This post is brought to you by the Elucent Anti-Ageing range.  Always read the label. Follow the instructions for use. Prolonged high risk sun exposure should be avoided. Frequent replication is required.


[1] Daniello NJ. A Plastic Surgeon’s Views on Glycolic Acid. Happi. 1996; 48–50.

[2] Diana Tran, Joshua P Townley, Tanya M Barnes, Kerryn A Greive. An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol: 2015; 8: 9–17.  Published online 2014 Dec 19. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S75439.

[3] Philipp Babilas, Ulrich Knie, Christoph Abels. Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxy acids. JDDG: 2012; 10:488-491.

[4] Smith WP. Hydroxy Acids and Skin Aging. Cosmet Toiletries. 1994; 109(9):41–48. 16. Leydon JJ, Rawlings AV, editors. Skin Moisturization. New York: CRC Press; 2002. Chapter 16, Hydroxyacids; p344–348

[5] Elson ML. Treatment of photoaging – a personal comment and open study of the use of glycolic acid. J Dermatol Treat. 1993; 93:215–218

[6] Smith WP. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. J AM Acad Dermatol. 1996; 35 (3 Pt 1); 388-91.

[7] Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005: 31 (7 Pt 2): 860-5; discussion 865.