Apr 26, 2024 | Blog


Dr Naomi McCullum

Cosmetic Doctor, Student Cosmetic Chemist. Founder, Dr Naomi Skin and The Manse Clinics.


Are you looking to elevate your skincare routine and achieve that endless glowing complexion? Look no further than alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)! These versatile compounds can provide numerous benefits for your skin, from increasing cell turnover to reducing fine lines and wrinkles. But how do they actually work? In this blog article, we’ll explore the mechanisms behind AHAs and share 6 key skincare benefits. Plus, we’ll show you exactly how to use these powerful acids in your daily routine with our Dr Naomi recommendations. So get ready to transform your skin with the help of AHAs. 

What are AHAs?

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of naturally occurring compounds that can be found in various plants and fruits. AHAs deliver numerous benefits when applied to the skin because they act as exfoliants, helping to remove dead cells from the surface and promote new cell growth beneath. Additionally, AHAs help increase collagen production in skin tissue, which can lead to a firmer, more youthful complexion. They have been proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles due to their ability to restore elasticity and boost surface hydration for an overall improved texture. While these powerful ingredients have an impressive list of rewards, knowing how to use them correctly is essential for achieving maximum skincare benefits.

How do alpha hydroxy acids work?

Put simply, AHAs work by dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells together. This allows the dead skin cells to be sloughed off, revealing softer, smoother skin underneath. Alpha hydroxy acids also stimulate collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 

What about the side effects of alpha hydroxy acids?

AHAs can cause skin irritation, redness, and dryness so it’s  important to properly hydrate your skin after using products containing this ingredient to minimise any potential irritation. Those with sensitive skin should be cautious when using alpha hydroxy acids and consult a dermatologist before use.

What are the Benefits of AHAs?

 AHAs are best known for their magic ability to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and rough texture. Additionally, AHAs can help to brighten the skin and even out the skin tone by reducing the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. They can also promote collagen production, which can further help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. In short, AHAs offer a variety of skin benefits that can help you achieve a youthful, radiant complexion. 

In addition to their anti-aging properties, AHAs may also help acne-prone skin by reducing inflammation and helping to unclog pores. 

How and When to Use Alpha Hydroxy Acids

There are different types of AHAs that you can use, including glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. You can find these acids in different skincare products, such as serums, toners, creams, and peels. 

It’s important to note that AHAs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. This means that you need to be extra careful when spending time outdoors and always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. 

To get the most out of using AHAs, start by using them once or twice a week. You can gradually increase the frequency if you don’t experience any adverse effects. If you notice any irritation, redness, or dryness, reduce the number of days that you use them each week. 

When using AHAs, it’s important to make sure that you keep your skin hydrated. Your best bet is to use moisturisers that contain hyaluronic acid and other humectants as they will help seal in the moisture. We highly recommend our Plump Fiction Anti-Ageing Moisturiser to be the perfect duo for any AHA skincare products as it is formulated with Plant Epidermal Growth Factors to restore vital hydration. 

It’s also important to always read the label and instructions on the product packaging and talk to a dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns before starting a new skincare regimen.

Different Types of AHA Products Available

 There are a variety of AHA products available on the market today. The most common AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid. You can find these ingredients in cleansers, toners, serums, moisturisers, and masks.

Glycolic acid is the smallest molecule of all the AHAs, so it penetrates the skin deeply and quickly. This makes it an effective ingredient for treating fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. Glycolic acid can be drying, so it’s important to use a product with it that also contains hydrating ingredients like aloe vera or glycerin.

Lactic acid is a larger molecule than glycolic acid, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. This makes it a better choice for people with sensitive skin. Lactic acid is also very hydrating, so it’s good for people with dry skin. It can help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of age spots.

Both glycolic acid and lactic acid can be irritating to the skin if used too often or left on for too long. It’s important to start slowly when using products with these ingredients and to increase frequency gradually as your skin gets used to them. Always follow the directions on the product label carefully. 

Other AHA products you can find on the market include mandelic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid. Each one of these AHAs has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to read up on them before purchasing a product that contains one of these ingredients.

Dr Naomi’s Guide to AHA Products


Now that we know all the benefits and how and when to use AHAs, it’s time to share Dr Naomi’s most popular and craved products (recommended and loved by you guys)! Here is a guide using Dr Naomi’s skincare range to this multi-tasking ingredient. 

Our Smooth Criminal Serum is the perfect gentle, yet efficient introduction to AHA exfoliation for new to active skincare users. This serum combines Dr Naomi skin’s proprietary brightening cocktail mix of three fruit enzymes (pomegranate, papaya and pineapple), combined with 5% fruit AHA complex (Myrtillus Fruit, Sugar Cane, Orange and Lemon extracts) to gently exfoliate and reveal softer and a more radiant skin finish.  

Next up is this pore minimising skin saviour, Pore Relation Power Essence so you say goodbye to ‘big pores’. The AHA fruit mix contains a blend of natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids including Myrtillus Fruit, Sugar Cane, Orange and Lemon extracts work to exfoliate your skin leaving it smooth and supple. BHA Salicylic Acid works by gently exfoliating dead skin cells to speed up the natural process of skin turnover. This means it not only addresses premature skin aging, but also uneven skin tone. Talk about the ultimate skin weapon! We recommend using this dual toner and exfoliator every second day.

For power users, our holy grail is our AHA One Night Stand Overnight Facial – our highly active facial cream that works all night long. A potent 15% Glycolic Acid combined with 1% Bakuchiol to help brighten and resurface the skin after a long day of being a girl boss. We recommend applying overnight once or twice a week at most as it is highly potent. To start off, apply to clean, dry skin on your face, neck and décolletage, avoiding the eye area. No need to apply a night cream as this facial cream works hard while you sleep. It is not recommended if your skin is not accustomed to high levels of active ingredients. For newbies, start by applying the cream as a mask for 15-30 minutes and wash off with warm water. You can follow with your favourite moisturiser. For subsequent applications (max twice per week), gradually increase application until your skin feels ready for a full overnight facial. Do note that slight skin resurfacing is normal. If irritation persists, please discontinue use. 

Tips for Safely and Effectively Using AHAs

 If you’re new to AHAs, you might be wondering how to incorporate this powerful ingredient into your skincare routine. Here are some tips for using AHAs safely and effectively:

AHAs are best used at night and to be incorporated in your nightly skincare routine. This is because AHAs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. One of our most popular products is the AHA Overnight Facial that provides both anti-ageing and skin tightening benefits that work hard throughout the night. So while you have your beauty sleep, let our overnight facial do all the work!

Protect your skin by applying sunscreen during the day. Even when you’re not using AHA ingredients, it’s so important for us Aussie babes to incorporate SPF into our skincare routine because who wants wrinkles and dark spots?  If you use an AHA product during the day, make sure to apply sunscreen afterwards. This will help protect your skin from sun damage and protect your skin from discolouration. Speaking of brightening, have you heard of our Swipe Bright Brightening Super Oil? With a complex of 3 innovative skin brightening ingredients and 5% vitamin C, this super oil targets pigmentation, melasma and dark spots. But not before you get down and dirty with our Walk of Shine AHA Brightening Cleanser that brightens your skin and addresses enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation. Name a better duo…

Just like with any other skincare ingredient, you don’t want to overdo it with AHAs. Use them as directed and don’t exceed the recommended amount.


 Alpha Hydroxy Acids are both an excellent way to improve the look and feel of your skin. AHAs can exfoliate, brighten and soften the skin, reduce wrinkles, improve hydration levels, minimize pores and treat acne. The best way to use these acids is to apply a gentle AHA product up to five times per week after cleansing but before moisturizing. Always be sure to wear sun protection when using AHAs as they will leave your skin more vulnerable when exposed to UV rays. 

With regular use, you’ll soon see brighter and softer skin that looks years younger! 

The use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids for skincare has a plethora of benefits, no matter your skin type or condition. It is important to talk to your dermatologist or aesthetician prior to beginning any treatment because they can provide personalised advice based on your individual needs. 

Additionally, keep in mind that there are potential side effects which could arise from using AHAs, such as redness, skin irritation and sun sensitivity, so it is important to follow the directions of usage given by your doctor or product manufacturer. However, If used correctly and responsibly, AHAs can make huge improvements in both the look and feel of your skin.

We want to hear your thoughts on any of our skincare recommendations tagged above! Feel free to share your review, before and after photos or a stunning selfie of your skin. Feel free to tag us on our Instagram page and share the love!



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