Alpha Hydroxy Acid - Nature's Skin PeelAlpha hydroxy acid (or AHA's) and beta hydroxy acids are added to creams and lotions for the 'brightening' effect that they have on the skin. But you don't need to spend a fortune on expensive treatments to get these benefits. AHA's come from many ordinary every day foods that we have in our kitchen cupboard.
As we get older life takes it toll on our complexions. Even if you have never been down the sunbathing route you may still find that your face displays the classic symptoms of sun damage. Solar keratosis or thickened patches of skin, age spots or areas of discoloured skin like large freckles and freckles themselves which can increase in size or join together to produce whole swathes of darkened skin. Acne scarring from difficult teenage years or infected pimples, large open pores from oily skin or deepened wrinkles from very dry, unnourished skin, can all make our complexion appear drab and dowdy.
Skin peeling with alpha hydroxy acid is not new. There are numerous reports in history of beauty treatments that worked to exfoliate the upper layers of skin to reveal a bright new, young complexion beneath. These were achieved mostly by applications of fruit. The natural alpha hydroxy acid in fruit juice produced these effects but the users did not understand or know how they worked. The more modern treatments actually isolate these alpha hydroxy acids and chemically synthesise them to use in skin peels and other applications.
Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are derived naturally from apples, ginger, oranges, grapefruit, sugarcane or willow bark, and will gradually peel off the top layers of dead skin and promote the renewal process of the skin which can become sluggish as we age. Natures skin peels are much more gentle than the chemical version you may get at the beauty shop or cosmetic clinic. If you have particularly sensitive skin though, they can be just as fierce and even painful. Therefore use these with caution and always trial a small area of skin first before applying willy nilly!!
The simple application of orange or lemon pulp to the face is a basic skin peel. But be warned it could sting!
The Basic Process for using Natural Alpha Hydroxy AcidsWash your face with your normal cleanser and leave the skin slightly damp. Apply the skin peel mixture and then relax for fifteen to thirty minutes. Rinse the mixture from your face with tepid water and if you feel any irritation or the skin looks red, bathe with a cooled chamomile tea. Pat dry and apply a very gentle (unscented) moisturiser or night cream. This process is best done in the evening, and since, depending upon your skintype you may find your skin slightly red (which can last for a few days), it is probably best to choose a time when you have no upcoming social engagements.
Skin Peeling Fruits and Ingredients to Choose:Always choose fresh ripe fruit, do not be tempted to use that last black banana in the bowl! Tinned fruit can also be used, although the result is better with fresh. Most fruits are suitable for all skin types so if you really want a fruit salad … go ahead! There are some fruits, however, more suited to certain skin types than others and you may have to experiment with several blends until you find the best one for you but here is a rough guide.
Dry Skin: Mashed Avocado (choose a very ripe one, it mashes better); Apricot; Banana.
Oily Skin: Strawberry; Kiwi; do not be tempted to go for obviously sharp citrus fruits such as lemon or grapefruit, although they will dry up excess oils, too much of them can be harsh on the texture of the skin. Green apples are very good as well as cucumbers, a little of the pulp of an orange is good. Tomatoes are supposed to be excellent skin peelers for oily complexions.
Normal Skin: All of the above and below and more besides… melons are good.
Acne: A couple of garlic cloves mashed and added to clay is excellent for severe acne. Unfortunately nothing can be done about the smell so perhaps choose a day when you are not planning social calls or expecting visitors. A little egg white mixed with clay (not too much); Also strawberries with a teaspoonful of wine – red if your complexion is dark and white if it is not. Marie Antoinette used Cognac on her oily complexion combined with milk for moisturising. Honey is mildly antiseptic and gently healing for inflamed spots.
Dry or mature skin: Try an egg yolk and some honey with mashed avocado to soften and moisturise a tired complexion.
The morning after the night before: try half a dozen mashed green grapes.
Sensitive Skin: A small spoonful of double cream added to your face mask. But if you suffer from allergies choose your fruit with care - perhaps start with a banana and a little grated apple and remove it if you feel any stinging sensations.
Rejuvenating: finely shredded asparagus is reported to be rejuvenating but I can’t personally vouch for this one!
Thick or coarse skin with severe scarring To turn your fruit mask into a real 'skin peel' you can add a teaspoon of citric acid to whichever fruit mixture you are using. But be aware this could leave your skin looking very red and it could last for several days. It is normal for a skin peel to feel a little uncomfortable while on your skin, however if it is actually painful you must wash it off immediately.
Combining Fruit with ClayChoose the type of clay base that you wish to use, combine the mashed fruit or vegetable (your raw alpha hydroxy acid) of your choice. Add any liquid or runny ingredients and if the mixture is not wet enough then add a little cooled previously boiled water, or even a little warm milk, cream or a herbal tea to make it the correct consistency. A few drops of an appropriate blend of essential oils (I know I have promised some information for beginners on choosing essential oils... it is coming, I promise) can also be added if you wish. Smear the mixture onto a clean complexion and relax for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing it off. If your skin is very sensitive then reduce the time. I am always cautious about combining essential oils with alpha hydroxy acid face masks since they are to be left on the skin for a good length of time - please exercise caution.
Any mask that is left over can be used on other parts of the body too or covered and kept in the fridge for a short while to be used later, this will depend upon which ingredients you have used and how well they have kept, it should look and smell the same as when you freshly made it, if it doesn’t, throw it away.Oh and be sure to tell other family members what you have put in the fridge... not that I think it would poison them... but then, it could!