If Nothing Else Has Worked for Your Acne, Try LHA!

Skin Care
La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum


4 Ways to Get Rid of Acne FutureDerm ArticleThere 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 hold onto old cells for too long (and clog up);
  • Decrease inflammation in the skin that is associated with acne.

LHA, or β-lipohydroxy acid, is an ingredient that has only been around for the past seven or eight years. It is exciting because it does all three of the above, killing bacteria (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007); increasing cell turnover (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009); and decreasing corneocyte adhesion (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002).

Who Is a Candidate for LHA?

LHA Best Uses Which Acne Cystic FutureDerm


LHA is best for patients with mild to moderate, non-cystic acne, who have tried other agents like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide in the past without luck, or who are currently using these agents but still are experiencing breakouts. Those with cystic acne are not likely to be aided much by LHA.

Which Products Contain LHA?

La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum

A limited number of products contain LHA, including:

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.

What Other Ingredients Can Be Used in Conjunction with LHA?

LHA  can be used with everything FutureDerm

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). This is because LHA has a slightly acidic pH that is similar to that of normal skin (5.5) and does not require neutralization for activation within the skin.

If you want to introduce LHA to an existing regimen, the best way is with a full-strength LHA serum. I recommend using a 10% salicylic acid cleanser, benzoyl peroxide on-the-spot treatment, LHA serum, and retinol or glycolic acid moisturizer to treat acne nightly.

Bottom Line

Of the ingredients premiering on the skin care market in the past few years, I feel that LHA is one of the most exciting for treating mild to moderate acne. It can be used alone, as in the La Roche Posay Effaclar System, or in conjunction with other agents to treat acne.

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  • Thanx for the post alysse will look more into it with both those websites always looking for new products & I quite like the gels.

  • Alysse

    Thanks for posting about LHA! It’s been around for sometime with Loreal products including Biomedic before rebranding under Skinceuticals and now moving into the La Roche Posay Effaclar line.

    There are more LHA products located here: http://www.skinceuticals.com/_us/_en/skin-condition/acne.aspx

    I know there are also PHA’s (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15002657 – PolyHydroxy Acid’s where do they fall in relation to the other acids? Are they for more sensitive skin? I know Neostrata owns this patent.

    I used to use the LHA Cleansing Gel & Solution ( which combines LHA, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid) & LHA serum to prep for superficial chemical peels and ongoing Adult acne and saw many benefits. One great effect of the combination therapy was the improved skin tone & texture and how well it was tolerated by my darker skin complexion without causing further PIH. I can’t express how huge that is as hyperpigmentation is the bane of my existence ( after acne of course). However I did find it all quite a bit drying ( likely due to the combination therapy) so I skipped the retinol daily and swamped it with a more soothing moisturizer ( acid free) at night to help repair my skin barrier and added in a prescription retinoid like Tazorac weekly. I’m not sure how i’d add in BP to the above cocktail without zapping my skin of all moisture :-/

    My other challenge was how to include anti-aging products in an acne regimen. Can you provide some tips on the best anti-aging products for acneic skin and/ how I would go about fitting them in to this regimen?

    Looking forward to hear more!

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