Is Alpha Hydroxy Acid Vegan? What Is It Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Updated: April 2022.
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Alpha Hydroxy Acids might be both, vegan and non-vegan. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are mostly synthetical or derived from sugar cane and fruit. Very rarely, one of them comes from milk.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid is also known as AHA. A chemical exfoliator that makes the skin smoother and treats signs of aging, sun damage, pigment spots, and acne. But let’s take a closer look.

What Is Alpha Hydroxy Acid?

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) in skincare are usually vegan and derived from fruit and vegetables. Even lactic acid, a type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid, that can technically be derived from milk, is plant-derived in skincare.

The most popular AHA is glycolic acid. However, lactic acid and citric acid are common too.
AHAs are frequently used as supportive care for many different skin conditions. More often, combined with other active ingredients.

Several studies have found that AHAs reduce wrinkles, and improve skin elasticity and texture.

AHA products come in different percentages, pHs, and different forms. Such as gels, creams, masks, detergents, and serums. There are specific products for dry, normal, and oily skin.

Most products contain AHA acids in fairly low concentrations, usually 5-15%. In most studies, 8-15% of AHA products modestly improved wrinkles and other signs of skin aging.

The AHA content of the personal skincare product should be at 10% or less. For home use, it is important to go with a safe option since too strong AHA might cause skin irritation.

Yes, higher concentrations could be more effective. But these percentages should be monitored by a dermatologist. Trained professionals use higher concentrations of AHA acids (30-70%) for chemical peels. A dermatological procedure to fight aging signs.

When it comes to pH levels, an AHA product with a pH of 3.0-3.5 is best and not too acidic.

AHA is an exfoliating agent. Meaning it should be used optimally and not too often. Excessive exfoliation makes the skin brittle, mottled, and easily wrinkled.

For porous and acne-prone skin, AHAs should only be applied to problem areas, such as the T-zone. Above all, AHAs increase sun sensitivity. So, sunscreen is a definite must when using AHA products.

Types of AHAs

There are many types of AHA, although skincare brands often use the three most popular. Still, all of the following can be prepared in a vegan-friendly manner.

  • Glycolic acid – AHA derived from sugarcane
  • Citric acid – AHA made from citrus fruits
  • Tartaric acid – AHA made from fermented grapes
  • Lactic acid – AHA made from fermented corn, beet, and sugarcane
  • Mandelic acid – AHA derived from bitter almonds
  • Malic acid – AHA derived from apples and pears
  • Phytic acid – AHA derived from grains, legumes, and rice
  • Salicylic acid – BHA derived from the bark of willow trees

Why Is Alpha Hydroxy Acid Used In Skincare?

AHAs are used in skincare due to their multitasking features. They treat the signs of aging, fine lines, wrinkles, uneven surface texture, and dark spots.

In addition, AHA helps problematic and acne-prone skin. As well as rosacea, melasma, hyperpigmentation, ichthyosis, dry skin, and seborrheic dermatitis.

The exact mechanism of action of AHAs is yet unknown. However, it is clear that AHAs carry skin-promoting effects.

Firstly, AHAs exfoliate the skin’s superficial layers. This accelerates the formation of new cells. And the result is fresher, smoother, and more even-toned skin.

Secondly, AHAs reduce the amount of oil on the skin and pores. This reduces the chance of comedones and pimples.

Further, AHA increases the absorption of other skincare products. Thus it lowers water loss and keeps the skin hydrated.

Higher percentages of AHA (greater than 8%) may also stimulate collagen synthesis. Therefore, over time, the skin thickens and superficial wrinkles diminish.

What is Alpha Hydroxy Acid Made Of?

For the most part, AHAs in skincare are vegan and derived from fruit. Very rarely, one of them comes from milk.

The skincare world knows the three most common AHAs. These are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid.

Glycolic acid is usually derived from plants, such as sugar cane. As well as from different fruits like apples, pineapples, and papaya.

Citric acid comes from citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

Although lactic acid could be obtained from milk, most of it in skincare is synthetically made for better stability. In addition, lactic acid might be derived from fermented plant foods, beets, or sugary fruits.

FAQ About Alpha Hydroxy Acid

What is Alpha Hydroxy Acid made of?

Most AHAs in skincare are synthetical or derived from sugar cane or fruit. Very rarely, one of them comes from milk.

Why is Alpha Hydroxy Acid used in skincare?

AHAs are used in skincare due to their multitasking features. AHAs treat the signs of aging, fine lines, wrinkles, uneven surface texture, and dark spots. AHA also helps problematic and acne-prone skin.

Is Alpha Hydroxy Acid vegan?

For the most part, AHAs are vegan and derived from plants or fruit. Very rarely, one of them comes from milk.

Summary

AHA exfoliates and heals the skin. In addition, it moisturizes and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles. AHA also stimulates collagen production, trims, and gives a more even skin texture.

However, it is still acid. In order not to harm or damage your skin, read about AHA in advance and choose products recommended by experts.

Most AHAs in skincare are vegan. Still, make sure to confirm their origin before purchasing.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.