Beauty Tips: What are AHAS? And, does your skin need them?

AHAS are one of those”mystery” beauty product ingredients I am asked about a lot.

As there seems to be mystery and even fear surrounding them. I guess that anything with the word acid in it is bound to evoke fear in the user, particularly given it is applied to the face.

Renae with no make-up on after road testing Elucent anti-aging skincare for 9 days.

AHAS are alpha hydroxyl acids – but don’t be afraid of the word acid, as they contain weak acids (glycolic, lactic and citric) derived from sugar cane, fruit, citrus or even sour milk and they work to exfoliate the skin and kill off dead skin cells. For many women they are the ultimate pathway to clear skin.

Now that I know how well they work for me, I use AHAS sporadically, not all year round, and the big win with AHAS is they can give you instant fresh, smooth skin, and who doesn’t want that?

I recently road tested three products from Elucent, an amazing Australian skin care range which contains AHAS. I used Elucent anti-ageing gentle cleanser with 2% AHAS, Elucent anti ageing day moisturiser SPF 50+ and Elucent anti ageing night moisturiser with 8% AHAS.

If your skin feels and looks flat, just one day using a cleanser and moisturiser with AHAS will improve the texture of your skin, boom! A week and your skin is likely to be transformed.

For me, using AHAS does make my skin go red temporarily, but this is short term (several minutes), and  I am left with smoother, fresher skin, and my pores decrease in size. The fine lines around my eyes also become smoother and less pronounced.

Whenever I use a product with AHAS, my skin tingles, but I know this means it is working and dermatologists do say if you don’t experience any sensation on the skin right after application of a product containing AHAS, it may not be working at all, so may not be the right product for you.

I prefer to use any product with AHAS gradually at first, say 2-3 times a week and work up to every day use within 4 weeks. I think of it as a treatment course for my skin.

I love the Elucent anti-ageing gentle cleanser, as after just one day using it morning and night, the texture of my skin actually felt so much smoother. After a week, I noticed the skin on my hands was smoother too, as I was using my hands both to apply the anti-ageing cleanser and wash it off, so they were exposed to the AHAS too.

What I like about Elucent is the percentage of AHAs in each product is listed on the product itself – many products that contain AHAS don’t have this, so you’re in the dark. It’s difficult to know what you are actually using and hard to monitor results and know what actually works for your skin. With Elucent, I feel in control as I know what is going on to my skin.

My favourite products from Elucent were the Elucent anti-ageing gentle cleanser which  took my make-up off thoroughly and left my skin super clean and refreshed, and the day cream, as the SPF of 50+ was such a bonus and a must when using AHAS as they can leave you skin far more vunereble to sun damage. The best thing was I didn’t have to put a sunscreen on in addition, as it was already there within my moisturiser.

So what do AHAS actually do? Well they increase cell turn over by exfoliating away old and dead skin cells so that new ones can re-generate faster. That is why skin quickly looks fresher. There has also been research that has shown AHAS help nutrients better absorb into the skin.

Everyone should try them, but go slowly, and take before & after photos as you will be surprised at the results. I felt much more comfortable with no make-up after just 8 days using the Elucent range, and this is a big bonus right now as I have just started a new exercise regime at F45 at 530am each day with no make-up and boys in the class ( you get it).

Oh, and the best thing about Elucent? The price. Whilst we all love our foreign skin care brands, what a joy to find a local product that works and is affordable. The Elucent anti-ageing gentle cleanser was $21 and the skincare products not much more. Wow.

Disclosure: This review was done in partnership with Elucent, (and was first published on in a slightly different form). Like all partnerships, if a product doesn’t work for us, we don’t write about it or we disclose the whole truth here. You can read more about Elucent here.

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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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