The dos and dont's of applying AHAs to your client's skin
What are AHAs?
AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids are a common ingredient in skincare products. They chemically exfoliate the skin leaving it looking brighter, smoother and softer by removing dead skin cells, unclogging the pores and boosting cell renewal. Two common AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Glycolic acid, found in chemical peels, is favoured among skincare experts because it penetrates more deeply into the skin than other acids.
Start with a low concentration
AHAs can irritate sensitive skin so avoid applying a high concentration on clients who have temperamental complexions. Having said that, they are often gentler than manual exfoliants like grainy facial scrubs that can graze the surface.
Begin with a low concentration to build up the skin’s tolerance and slowly increase the percentage until you can safely use a stronger product. Salon chemical peels and masks tend to contain much higher levels of AHA than high street skincare products so even those clients who regularly use AHA serums, facial polishes and pads may need to be eased into a professional treatment to protect their skin.
Using products that combine lower concentrations of a mix of AHAs, such as glycolic and lactic acid, can work better than using a stronger concentration of a single acid. Each acid comes with it’s own benefits too. For example, lactic acid is brilliant for keeping the skin well-moisturised and is gentler than other varieties of AHA.
Be aware of photo sensitivity
Applying an AHA to the skin makes it more sensitive to UV rays emitted by the sun. Make sure your client uses sunscreen after their treatment to protect their skin because regular use of AHAs without following up with an SPF could cause sunspots, burns and uneven pigmentation. Clue up your client from the start so they are aware that they must use sunblock.