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Choosing Skin Care Products: Know Your Ingredients

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs) continued...

Glycolic acid was the original AHA and remains popular for its ability to remove dead skin cells and leave skin smoother, softer, and more radiant.

AHAs exfoliate the skin, reducing fine lines, age spots, acne scars, and uneven skin color. Peels with high concentrations of AHAs are usually given by a beauty specialist (esthetician) or dermatologist, but you can use lower concentrations -- between 5% and 10% -- in creams or lotions on a daily basis.

Start with a low concentration and apply every other day to avoid irritating your skin. Over time, you can gradually start to use it more often, working up to every day.

Even at lower doses, though, the acids may irritate and dry skin, and make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Doctors recommend using moisturizer and sunscreen when using any products that contain AHAs.

Salicylic Acid

You’ll see this ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription products that treat acne. It penetrates pores and reduces blackheads and whiteheads with less irritation than what you might get from alpha-hydroxy acids. Like AHAs, salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, which can reduce signs of aging.

You shouldn't use salicylic acid if you are allergic to salicylates (found in aspirin). Ask your doctor before using any product with salicylic acid if you're pregnant or nursing. Also, be aware of symptoms of rare but serious allergic reactions. Get emergency medical help if you have throat tightness, trouble breathing, are feeling faint, or you have swelling of your face or tongue. Stop using the product if you develop hives or itching.

Hyaluronic Acid

This is included in skin care products to reduce the signs of aging. Your body makes hyaluronic acid naturally, keeping tissues cushioned and lubricated. It's found in skin, joint fluid, and connective tissues. Age, smoking, and an unhealthy diet can cause you to make less of it over time.

Products containing hyaluronic acid may help smooth out skin. It works especially well when combined with vitamin C products.

WebMD Medical Reference

Brush Up on Beauty

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