With the release of Glossier’s liquid exfoliator promising to clear up acne, there’s been renewed buzz about a secret ingredient that’s been gaining traction for a while now in beauty: alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs.

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.”

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.

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. 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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