Frequently Used Hydroxy Acids for Skin Rejuvenation

Skin care advice from the medical aestheticians at UW Health Transformations Jeune Skin Care:


Jeune Skin Care Aestheticians Danielle Kalscheur, Lisa Klein and Angie Byer

With all the different available acids available on the market, it can be difficult to decipher which ones are best suited for your skin care needs. What exactly is a hydroxy acid, anyway, you ask? 





  1. Any acid, such as sulphuric acid, containing hydroxyl groups in its molecules
  2. Any of a class of carboxylic acids that contain both a hydroxyl group and a carboxyl group in their molecules


Say what??? Let's simplify…


Basically, hydroxy acids are a type of exfoliant that work by loosening and removing the layer of dead cells on the skin's surface, thus revealing the smoother, healthier and rejuvenated layers below. They have been used for a very long time. Queen Cleopatra is said to have regularly bathed in sour goat's milk to improve her skin. 


There are numerous hydroxy acids, but the most recognized are ALPHA hydroxy acids (AHA) or BETA hydroxy acids (BHA). Common alpha hydroxy acids made from naturally occurring acids found in fruits and other foods include citric (various fruits), glycolic (sugar cane), lactic (fermented milk or tomato juice), malic (green apples), mandelic (bitter almonds), phytic (rice bran) and tartaric acid (grapes).


Salicylic acid is a BETA hydroxy acid best suited for controlling sebum (oil) secretion, aiding in clearing acne as well as removing dead skin cells. It is derived from salicylates, so if you are allergic to aspirin, you should avoid this acid.


Hydroxy acids are commonly used in chemical peels for the face, neck, chest, hands and back. Regular treatments can help with:

  • Fine lines
  • Mild brown spots (hyperpigmentation)
  • Brightenening dull/lackluster skin
  • Improving areas of dryness and skin texture
  • Minimizing mild acne scarring and helping in the treatment of acne by stripping away the clogged plugs where acne bumps can form

Hydroxy acids are also found in lesser concentrations in skin care products such as facial cleansers, moisturizers, treatments creams and even body lotions aiding in skin rejuvenation.


There are other acids - such as resorcinol, pyruvic, trichloroacetic (TCA) and phenol, to name a few - that are more aggressive and better suited for advanced hyperpigmentation, wrinkle reduction, skin rejuvenation and scarring.


On the internet, one can purchase various hydroxy acid products and formulations. This poses a risk as self-assessment and diagnosis can potentially lead to adverse side effects - and some can be severe, resulting in permanent damage and scarring in the hands of an untrained individual. As we always suggest, trust the knowledge and education of an experienced, licensed aesthetician.


January 2016 Discount


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Find out which peels, skin care treatments, products and cosmetics are right for you. Call (608) 836-9990 or (866) 447-9990 (toll-free) to request a free UW Health Transformations Jeune Skin Care consultation or to schedule an appointment. You may also request a consultation online:


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