Skip to main content
Two women laugh as one rests her bent arm on the other's shoulder.

Why Do Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) Make Your Skin Glow?

If you're looking to add some glow to your complexion, we have a buzzed-about ingredient that you’ll want to know about: alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs. These skin care saviors are a group of natural acids and chemical exfoliants which, when introduced to your regular skin care routine, can help create that coveted, glowing complexion. AHAs not on your radar yet? Read on to find out how AHAs work and why chemical exfoliation will uncover your inner radiance.

What Are AHAs?The Different Types Of AHAs | What Do AHAs Do? 

What Are AHAs?

AHAs are water-soluble molecules that work on the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). They are a type of chemical exfoliant that loosens the bonds that hold dead skin cells in place. AHAs are ideal for treating issues that exist on the skin’s surface. They’re proven to be a better solution for more dry and mature skin types because they exfoliate while also providing moisture. 

Different Types Of AHAs

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a type of AHA naturally found in fruits and sugar cane. It is the most popular AHA — its small molecular size allows it to deeply penetrate into the skin, making it more effective than other acids. If you're looking to minimize the visible signs of aging (such as fine lines and wrinkles), then glycolic acid is for you. Categorized as a humectant, glycolic acid not only exfoliates but also attracts moisture to the skin to give you some extra hydration. 

Mandelic Acid

Derived from almonds, mandelic acid accelerates skin cell turnover and removes dead skin cells. This exfoliating action will leave the complexion looking far smoother than before. According to Medical News Today, "mandelic acid eliminates damaged and older skin cells and replaces them with newer, firmer-looking skin cells."

Malic Acid

Malic acid is one specific type of fruit-derived AHA that you can find in pears and apples. Malic acid exfoliates the top superficial layer of the skin, leaving you with smoother-looking texture and clearer-looking pores. It also acts as a humectant, attracting moisture to your skin, but because of its larger molecule size, it doesn't penetrate as deeply, making it gentler than other AHAs and ideal for those with sensitive skin, according to Byrdie

ferulic acid

Ferulic acid is a very powerful antioxidant that is naturally found in plants, including bran and certain fruit seeds. This acid is known for fighting against free radicals (aka unstable molecules that can cause damage to your skin cells). In terms of damage, picture premature aging and a loss of skin firmness. Free radicals are produced by environmental aggressors like pollution, smoking, the sun's UV rays or a poor diet. Thankfully, ferulic acid is thought to help neutralize free radicals when used in skin care. 

Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a gentle AHA exfoliant that removes surface buildup for a brighter, smoother-looking complexion. Typically derived from milk, other sources can include corn starch and beets. Lactic acid is used to smooth, brighten and even out skin texture and tone. It also reduces the appearance of dark spots and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. 

If you're interested in using this ingredient, our lactic acid-powered Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer won the Allure 2021 Best of Beauty: Clean Beauty Product category for a reason! This non-comedogenic formula has a lightweight consistency to minimize the look of environmental stress, all while its lactic acid ingredient promotes a natural radiance and glow. Learn more about the benefits of lactic acid by watching this In The Mix video with Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar.

Tartaric Acid

Sourced from antioxidant-rich fruits like grapes and tamarinds, as well as wine and cream of tartar, tartaric acid is a great source of antioxidants, which help defend the skin from damage triggered by free radicals and environmental factors. Tartaric acid has become a common ingredient in skin care products due to its astringent properties. It moisturizes the skin, and promotes healing.

What Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) can do for your skin

What Do AHAs Do?

1. AHAs Gently Reveal New Skin Cells

AHAs exfoliate the uppermost layers of skin to encourage fresh, new skin cells to come to the surface. This process clears away dead skin cells, revealing smoother and more youthful-looking skin. You’ll boost the wattage for your complexion and restore your luminosity.

Lactic acid is the most gentle of all the AHAs and safe for all skin types and skin concerns. This acid resurfaces the skin by breaking down the “glue” that binds together the dead layer and debris at the outermost layer of the skin. It dissolves away dead skin cells, promoting a more radiant-looking complexion. A key ingredient in our proprietary Lactic Acid Complex in the Mangosteen Collection, this AHA reveals your best, most luminous-looking skin.  Our lactic acid ingredient is even perfect for people with sensitivity to animal products. Although this acid is often derived from milk, the ingredient in our Mangosteen Collection is actually sourced from plant sugars, making every product in this collection vegan.

2. Brightens The Look Of The Skin

Exfoliation can visibly revive your skin, taking it from dull and tired to looking glowing and healthy. Experience a brighter-looking complexion using our Mangosteen Lactic Pro Peel 10% at an authorized Eminence spa. This professional peel removes surface buildup with immediate results and no downtime, even for sensitive skin.

Or, if you want to go for the glow at home, try our Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate, another great product for gently resurfacing and refining pores. The mangosteen in this leave-on concentrate promotes radiance while the Lactic Acid Complex removes and prevents buildup, refreshing the skin’s natural appearance. With lactic acid sweeping away your dead skin cells, you’ll find your complexion looks visibly brighter and your skin tone appears more even. 

Product Picks

3. Retains Hydration And Moisture

Some AHAs, such as glycolic acid, can actually add hydration and help your skin retain moisture. Glycolic acid has the ability to train the skin to become better at retaining its natural moisture. AHAs hydrate the skin in the short term, but dermatologists also believe that these acids enhance the skin’s moisture-retaining ability in the long term so that the tissue maintains its soft, padded firmness.

You can soak up this extra hydration and moisture thanks to the lactic acid ingredient in our luxurious Mangosteen Replenishing Hand Cream. With each application, this silky formula gently resurfaces the skin to reveal soft, youthful-looking hands and provides long-lasting hydration.

4. Reduces The Appearance Of Fine Lines And Wrinkles

Not only do AHAs improve radiance and moisture retention, they also reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. By resurfacing the complexion and evening out skin tone, your face will look revitalized and your skin texture refined.

You can learn more about reviving dull skin in this full guide and learn more by visiting your nearest Eminence Organic Spa Partner.

This article was originally written in March 2018.

Product Picks

  • Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer
  • Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer