From one of our readers, Claire:
What is LHA in skin care, and what does it do?
If someone could invent a universal cure for acne, s/he would surely top the Forbes 500 list next year. In the meantime, companies have been trying to crack the acne code with the development of LHA, or β-lipohydroxy acid, in numerous skin care products.
According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, LHA works in a similar fashion to salicylic acid. Specifically, LHA decreases the concentration of bacteria found within the pore. LHA has a lipophilic (fat-loving) nature and relatively slow penetration in the skin, which together make it an effective exfoliant, even at low concentrations. The LHA molecule has been found to separate transmembrane glycoproteins at the corneosome/corneocyte interface, cleanly detaching individual corneosomes from one another (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002). Studies have also shown that LHA appears to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anticomedogenic properties, combating acne and even dandruff.
I think we will be hearing a lot more about LHA because it has been shown to stimulate the skin in a manner similar to retinoids, that is, by renewal of epidermal cells and the extracellular matrix (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009). Although LHA is undoubtedly weaker in this effect than, say, 1.0% retinol or prescription retinoids, its exfoliating action is potent enough to nonetheless make it appealing to many a skin care fanatic.
In contrast to many other peeling chemicals, LHA also has a pH that is similar to that of normal skin (5.5) and does not require neutralization. FutureDerm readers will probably be happy to know that LHA can therefore be used with everything from acidic vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) to retinoids (for which esterification, i.e., activation occurs at pH 5.5-6.0).
What products contain LHA?
A number of relatively new products contain LHA, including:
- SkinCeuticals Biomedic LHA Cleansing Gel (a top choice for those with acne)
- SkinCeuticals Biomedic LHA Serum (another top choice for those with acne)
- La Roche Posay Effaclar K Daily Renewal (a top choice for regular gentle exfoliation)
- La Roche Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector
Of the ingredients premiering on the skin care market in the past few years, I feel that LHA is one of the most exciting. With its high rate of exfoliation at low concentrations and neutral pH, it has a lot of potential in both anti-aging and acne-fighting skin care regimens.
- If you have tried everything for oily or acne-prone skin and nothing has worked, then look no further than La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Acne Treatment Fluid ($15.35, Amazon.com). The cream contains three proven acne fighters - salicyclic acid, retinyl linoleate, and LHA - which synergistically work together to improve cell turnover, resulting in improved texture,…
- Hydroxy Acids Part II: The Differences between Glycolic Acid, Salicyclic Acid, Lipohydroxy Acid, and GluconolactoneAbout the author: FutureDerm.com is proud to introduce John Su on our staff as a Contributing Writer. John is an established skin care expert and aspiring dermatologist. He also runs a blog, The Triple Helix Liaison, dedicated to providing unbiased, meaningful, and insightful information about skin care. For his full bio, please visit our…
- There are many different ways to treat acne: Kill bacteria, P. acnes, which is responsible for acne, with oral and topical antibiotics and other chemical agents; Increase cell turnover and exfoliation rates, which is often slowed in patients with acne; Decrease the amount of skin cells that "stick" to one another, which causes the skin to…