As we age, the turnover rate of our cells slows down. In our teens they turnover at an average rate of 28 days and by our mid-50s we’re down to 60 days. This is the rate at which cells reproduce in the epidermal junction and where they are held together by lipids, ceramides and long chain fatty acids. The young cells gradually migrate to the skin surface where they die. But they don’t hang around benignly. Unsloughed dead cells can do as much damage as an angry poltergeist.
And that’s where alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) come in. AHAs (acids such as glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, mandelic and tartaric) exfoliate the surface of the skin, accelerate cell turnover and some, such as lactic acid, act as humectants. BHAs (willow bark) go deeper and actually exfoliate dead cells hanging around in the skin’s pores. If you are wondering how to incorporate them into your regimen, here’s my Five Best with AHAs and BHAs for 2016.
Sciote Illume Brightening Serum
Sciote Illume Brightening Serum ($95 in the shop). This potent formula contains 5% kojic acid, 3% glycolic acid and 1% salicylic acid. For Sciote this mix of AHAs and BHAs treat different issues: Kojic acid to inhibit melanin, glycolic acid for fine lines and wrinkles, age spots and hyperpigmentation and salicylic acid for cell turnover and acne treatment. Sciote’s favorite ingredient, MSM, is also here and there is evidence that it, too, brightens the skin. Members of the Truth In Aging community have had great results, even with fading dark spots, let alone more radiant skin.
Sevani Ageless Radiance Refining AHA Cleanser
Sevani Ageless Radiance Refining AHA Cleanser ($39 in the shop). Glycolic acid comes from sugar cane and this, along with sugar maple are in Sevani’s AHA cleanser. Willow bark is the cleanser’s BHA. Bilberry is a source of arbutin, a natural whitener. This well-rounded cleanser has nourishing avocado oil, argan oil and plenty of botanical antioxidants. Deservedly one of our bestsellers.
Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10%
Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10% ($35 in the shop). A strong and effective treatment for exfoliating and rejuvenating areas of your body other than your face. The 10% refers to glycolic acid, which is followed closely by pumpkin ferment, another AHA. These two strong exfoliators and lighteners are balanced with oils for calming, healing and antioxidant protection. Fructooligosaccharides provide collagen building and moisture retention.
La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask
La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask ($60 in the shop). An absolute classic that is a long time favorite. This facial mask is formulated with a gentle, but effective 5% glycolic concentration that is a terrific skin brightener. A helping hand comes from exfoliating bamboo grains, licorice and bearberry extract, which is loaded with alpha arbutin a natural (safer) hydroquinone. Organically sourced antioxidants include white tea and melon. An aloe base ensures this mask is soothing.
Dr. Dennis Gross Original Alpha Beta Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross Original Alpha Beta Peel ($88 in the shop). A truly transformative product. Peel is a misnomer, since you won’t. But you will experience a profound effect on open pores, uneven skin tone and the reduction of fine lines with a super easy 2-step process. Step one uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic, citric, lactic and malic, plus one beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid. Step two simply uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to neutralize the acids in step one. However, it is good to know that there is much more, with two forms of vitamin C, vitamin A (retinol and retinyl palmitate), vitamin E, water retaining phospholipids, resveratrol and ubiquinone.