Use at night. Because AHAs increase skin sensitivity to sun, using these products at night helps to minimize any adverse reactions that could occur due to sun exposure.
Use a cream or serum. Products that contain AHAs are more effective when left on the skin. Cleansers with AHAs offer a limited benefit because it will be washed off soon. Creams and serums that contain AHAs are far more effective vehicles. “I prefer to use the serum as it penetrates faster and attacks the problem quicker,” states Brittney Ward, a licensed aesthetician and celebrity makeup artist.
Limit sun exposure. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests avoiding the outdoors from 10a.m. – 4p.m. Wear hats and protective clothing when outside during this time.
Give AHAs in non-prescription products up to six months in order to see the maximum benefit. Aestheticians and dermatologists use products that are much higher in strength, so results should be apparent sooner.
Even if the above guidelines are followed, there are some precautions to bear in mind. “AHAs should not be used on inflamed skin like eczema, sunburn or rashes. Alpha hydroxy acids may cause temporary tingling when used properly, but can cause stinging if used in excess. Stop using products with vitamin A like tretinoin or retinol a week before using AHAs or the AHA will sink into the skin too far causing an overreaction,” says Dr. Prystowsky. Dr. Jaliman adds, “If you have very sensitive skin you may want to start off by using the AHA every other night instead of every night.”