The safety of glycolic acid and other AHA ingredients has been investigated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board, an independent panel of physicians and other scientists with no financial ties to the cosmetic industry, for the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the industry’s trade organization in Washington, DC. The review board concluded that AHAs were safe for use by consumers at a concentration less than 10% and at a pH of 3.5 or greater, and also for brief, discontinuous use in salons when applied by trained professionals in a concentration no greater than 30% and at a pH of no less than 3.0, followed by thorough rinsing of the skin. The reviewers did not examine the medical uses of AHAs at higher concentrations.
The review board also found that use of AHAs increased sun sensitivity by 13% overall but in some persons by as much as 50%, a finding that raises concern about accelerated photoaging and elevated risk of skin cancer. The reviewers, said Gerald McEwen, PhD, CTFA vice president for science, concluded that formulating some products differently adding a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 2, for example could eliminate the added sun sensitivity. They also recommended that people who use these preparations be advised to use daily sun protection, including sunscreens and protective clothing (Int J Toxicol. In press).
The FDA, according to Bailey, “is not as convinced as the industry that the problem can be solved this easily.” The FDA has referred AHAs to the National Toxicology Program for a study of phototoxicity, a process that will take several years. The same concerns about possible long-term effects apply to beta-hydroxy and other hydroxy acid products with frequent use in anti aging skin care. In the meantime the FDA may provide guidelines to the industry or regulations for safe use but has not yet made a decision on this matter.
Even though certain AHA’s formulations can bring glow, smoothness and tone to your skin and have been used in anti aging serum formulations, the renewed AHA’s -underwent skin appear to be in need of more care. This care includes use of mositurizers and suncreens. The final word is the beauty and youthfulness associated with use of AHA’s cost more than its primary value. To be on the safe side:
Do not use AHA’s products containing more than 8% AHA’s during the day
Wear a moisturizer and a sunblock during the day while using a AHA’s formulation with more than 8% AHA’s at night
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