June 1, 2009 -- Question: What are alpha hydroxy acids, how do they work, and are they effective in treating aging skin?
Answer: Alpha hydroxy acids are a class of acids. They're common in over-the-counter skin products. Alpha hydroxy acids work by exfoliating the dead layers of the top of the skin. Many people feel that when they use an alpha hydroxy acid product that their skin will glow; this is simply because the dead layers of skin have been removed by the acid product.
They will help temporarily improve the surface of the skin, with regards to texture and fine wrinkles. However, unlike tretinoin, they don't permanently alter cell/skin turnover or stimulate collagen synthesis; therefore, if you're interested in a more permanent type of photoaging improvement, please consult your local dermatologist.