From Glossier to Goop, there’s a new skincare ingredient making its way into everyone’s daily beauty routines. With the release of the Solution liquid exfoliator (it sold out in days) promising to clear up acne, there’s been renewed buzz about a secret ingredient that’s been gaining traction for a while now: alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs.

Intimidated by the thought of adding an acid into your routine? Don’t be. Chemical exfoliants are gentle, low percentage acids that deep clean your pores. They get out all the gunk, help to reduce fine lines and increase collagen production – triple threat. 

There are a few little-known facts about AHAs. Allure reports that they’re known for clearing up a blotchy chest and things like bacne. For those permanent goosebumps that dry skin can cause on your arms, a lotion like AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Moisturizing Body Lotion can smooth out the rough spots. Acids are also not as immediately irritating for your skin as retinoids can be — those can instigate inflammation before they repair.

Cosmo spoke to a cosmetic dermatologist about the power of AHAs.

“AHAs can work wonders for those with acne or hyperpigmentation, since they dissolve the glue that holds the superficial skin cells together, making them powerful exfoliators,” Shereene Idriss M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in NYC told Cosmo. “They also help reduce photodamage and can help clear acne-causing bacteria deep within your pores. Ideally I recommend using an AHA two to three times a week [swipe it on a cotton round and apply to clean skin], preferably at night to help rid your skin of toxin build up throughout the day, but they’re suitable for all skin tones, however, if you have sensitive skin, start out using them twice a week and then increase usage from there, so you know how your skin reacts.”

Glossier’s new Solution exfoliator is a good way to jump in on the trend. It has 10 percent alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA/BHA) and polyhydroxy acid (PHA) which strengthens your skin’s natural barrier and leads to fewer breakouts. But there are a few simple steps to follow when introducing an acid to your routine to ensure it’s effectiveness. For starters, it’s essential to pay attention to the pH levels of your product. When layering, go from lowest to highest level of pH (if using a Vitamin C, BHA or PHA) to make sure that no product’s benefits are overshadowed.

REN Clean Skincare offers a great natural option, made of Willow Bark extract and Lactic Acid for those who want to get that glow organically.

Shop our selection of products below, from products gentle enough for daily use to once a week products.


Mario Badescu AHA + Ceramide Moisturizer - Assorted One Size at Urban Outfitters



AHA 10% Foam Cleanser.



Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic



Skin Perfecting 8% Aha Gel Exfoliant



Dermalase AHA Exfoliating Mask/1.7 oz.



Dermadoctor 'Kp Duty' Dermatologist Formulated Aha Moisturizing Therapy For Dry Skin



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