MURAD ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS AND GLYCOLIC ACID
A great deal has been written recently about Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Over the
past few years, research on these substances has been conducted at major universities
and medical research laboratories. Dermatologists and Aestheticians all over
the country have used glycolic acid, a particularly adaptable Alpha Hydroxy
Acid, with dramatic results.
As a manufacturer of cosmetic products, some of which contain glycolic acid,
we are aware of many questions being asked by consumers concerning this exciting
new cosmetic alternative. We have tried to answer these questions as clearly
and completely as possible. If you have any further questions or comments, please
write to us and let us know. It is our intention to maintain an open channel
of communication with our customers and we are extremely interested in your
thoughts and concerns.
The following are answers to questions frequently asked about Alpha Hydroxy
Acids (AHAs) and Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care.
1. What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
AHAs are naturally occurring substances found in various fruits, sugar cane
and sour milk, as well as in the body. These substances have a beneficial effect
on the skin. Glycolic acid, the AHA found in sugar cane, has the smallest molecule
and is considered by many researchers to be the most adaptable for cosmetic
The experience of dermatologists and aestheticians has shown that continued
use of glycolic acid formulations improves the appearance of skin, helps manage
oily and acne prone skin problems and reduces discolorations in the skin.
2. Who discovered AHAs and how do they work?
Throughout history, women applied old wine and sour milk to their skin to improve
its look and feel. Recently, scientists have begun to look into AHAs to find
out how they work and why they help the skin. A great deal of research has been
done all over the country, in both private dermatology practices and laboratories,
with encouraging results. Clinical experience and research with glycolic acid
formulations at major universities have also demonstrated the significant benefits
of this new skin care discovery. .
Glycolic acid works by loosening the bond that holds together the top layers
of dead skin cells. By helping the body remove the excess build-up of these
dead cells on the surface of the skin, glycolic acid allows fresher, healthierlooking
skin to emerge.
3. How does glycolic acid help with oily/acne prone skin?
As dead skin cells build up around hair follicles, they interfere with the natural
drainage of oil, causing the hair follicle to clog and fill. The resulting blockage
can lead to several problems, including comedones, etc. By loosening the bond
holding together the excessive build-up of dead cells, glycolic acid helps remove
the blockage and cleanses the pores, allowing the skin to rid itself of these
4. How does glycolic acid help with skin discolorations such as age spots?
Previously, one of the problems with age spot removal products was that the
lightening agent, typically hydroquinone, could not get past the thick outer
layer of dead cells to reach the melanocytes, the source of the pigmentation.
When hydroquinone is combined with glycolic acid, as in Murad Age Spot and Pigment
Lightening Gel, glycolic acid removes the excess buildup of dead cells on the
surface and hydroquinone reduces the production of melanin, allowing pigmentation
to diminish gradually.
5. Are AHA products like Retin-A?
A clinical comparison has not been performed, but these substances are very
different chemically. What's more, Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care contain
only ingredients that are suitable for cosmetic use, while Retin-A is a drug
that requires a doctor's prescription.
6. Do AHAs make the skin sensitive to the sun?
AHAs used in cosmetic formulations do not cause photosensitivity, however you
should always wear daily sun protection.
7. Are there any complications with the use of Murad Advanced Performance
The professional exfoliation product may produce a tingling sensation when first
applied, but that usually disappears in a minute or two, although the time may
vary depending on the individual's skin. Some people experience a slight reddening
after the exfoliation, particularly if the skin is extra sensitive, but most
people experience only smoother and softer skin. Reddening and tingling of the
skin may also occur with Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care Treatment Products,
but typically lasts only a minute or two.
Initial use of Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care Treatment Products may
cause an apparent increase in breakout. This occurs because the product is actively
cleansing the pores and, therefore, accelerating the process of bringing trapped
oil and debris to the surface. This should clear up within a few weeks, after
which regular use of the product will keep the pores clear and acne breakouts
should be markedly reduced.
In order to ensure the highest degree of purity, all Murad Advanced Performance
Skin Care products are developed, formulated and produced to the strictest standards.
Every Murad product is also dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, non-acnegenic
and not tested on animals. Nonetheless, a small percentage of the population
may be ultra sensitive to an AHAs or one of the other ingredients in some of
the Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care products, particularly hydroquinone.
These people may experience a burning sensation or a sensitivity to one of the
ingredients after application. In case of sensitivity to any AHA skin care product,
consumers should discontinue use of the product immediately and call their skin
care professional or a physician if the symptoms persist.
8. How should Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care Treatment products be
All Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care products should be used twice daily,
once in the morning and at night. The skin should always be cleansed thoroughly
before the product is applied. Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care Treatment
products do not replace other skin care products such as cleansers and moisturizers.
They are formulated to be used in conjunction with the regular skin care regimen
the individual consumer may have developed with the help of his/her aesthetician
or other skin care professional. Make-up may also be applied over glycolic acid
skin care products. .
Application of Murad AHA Rapid Exfoliato_ or AHA Rapid Exfoliato_ System II
in a series of six treatments - no less than once per week and no more than
three times per week. Because each person's skin is different, thereafter the
frequency should be determined by the skin care professional who will be providing
the service. Murad AHA Rapid Exfoliations may be repeated indefinitely at the
discretion of the skin care professional and the consumer until the desired
results are obtained.
9. What are the long term effects of continual use of AHA products?
Since AHAs are non-toxic substances found in natural sources such as fruit,
sugar cane and sour milk, as well as in the body, researchers do not expect
any problems as a result of long term use of AHA products.
10. Can I make my own AHA solution from fruit juice or milk?
No. AHA substances are not easily extracted and must be used in properly balanced
formulations to achieve worthwhile results.
11. What happens when use of an AHA product is stopped or suspended?
Unlike the case with simple moisturizers, the improvement in appearance that
users of Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care Treatment products achieve will
not immediately disappear once usage stops, and residual effects may last indefinitely.
However, in the absence of AHAs, dry and rough dead skin cells can once again
build up on the outer layer of the skin and the original problem may reoccur.
With uninterrupted use, the benefits can be maintained.
12. Can both men and women and people of all ages use Murad Advanced Performance
Men and women of all ages should experience beneficial results with Murad Advanced
Performance Skin Care products. In addition to addressing such common skin conditions
as the appearance of skin, acne prone skin and discolorations, glycolic acid's
exfoliating benefits can also help make shaving easier.
Care should be taken however, when using any skin care product, including Murad
Advanced Performance Skin Care products, on very young children and people with
13. What percentage of glycolic acid should I look for when purchasing a
After years of testing glycolic acid formulations on thousands of test subjects,
researchers have concluded that the optimum glycolic acid percentage for a cosmetic
formulation is within a range of five to twelve percent, with a pH that conforms'
as close to normal surface skin pH 4.2 - 5.6.
We also firmly believe, however, that the optimum performance of a glycolic
acid product depends on a number of other factors equally important to glycolic
acid percentages - including pH adjustment, vehicle and de-sensitizing agents.
The whole formula must be carefully and thoroughly balanced to ensure the best
blend of ingredients. The researcher must constantly test and re-test; evaluating
the data that comes from use with thousands of test subjects in order to establish
safe "use" and create the optimum formulation.
14. How does a chemical peel differ from exfoliation?
"Chemobrasion," the scientific term for a chemical peel, involves
applying a variety of specific corrosive chemicals to the skin that may leave
it looking and feeling like a second degree sun burn. Substances such as 50-70%
glycolic acid, 20-50% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and 88% phenol are used to
chemically peel - or "wound" - multiple layers of the epidermis and
dermis thereby remodeling the skin. This type of procedure - called invasive,
since it reaches beyond the stratum corneum into the living epidermis and the
dermis - should only be administered by a qualified dermatologist or plastic
surgepn due to the potentipl complications involved with the procedure.
When applied properly by a physician, chemical peels have proven beneficial
in diminishing freckles, blotchiness, age spots, fine and deep lines, actinic
keratoses, melasma and other cutaneous disorders.
Many similar cosmetic benefits of chemical peels can be obtained through in-salon
exfoliation services- ranging from salt sloughs and body scrubs to AHA exfoliation
treatments and glycolic acid home care products, - which utilize glycolic acid
but in much lower percentages and higher pH. These procedures are non-invasive
and they are limited to the removal of dead skin cells. Therefore, they are
While a physician might recommend a 50% to 70% concentration in superficial
chemical peel treatments designed to remove living tissue, aestheticians use
10% to 30% concentrations at an adjusted pH (partially neutralized) in their
face and body care services to remove only the top layer of dead skin cells
15. Can glycolic acid be used during pregnancy?
Every woman should always check with her obstetrician. However, Murad Advanced
Performance Skin Care Treatment products are cosmetic preparations and therefore
do not appear to influence the body systemically. AHAs such as glycolic and
lactic acids occur naturally in our body.
16. What are the latest innovations concerning glycolic acid?
Synergistic formulas are the future of glycolic acid skin care. These formulations
not only provide the already known exfoliating benefits of glycolic acid, but
condition and supplement the skin with specialized ingredients that improve
hydration for dry skin, manage and reduce acne breakouts, enhance clarity for
oily complexions and prevent envorinmental skin damage.
17. How do you process glycolic acid from sugar cane?
The principle source of glycolic acid is synthetic. It is available in various
grades and concentrations from several reagent and chemical companies. Naturally
derived AHAs are also available for cosmetic use. Multi fruit acids are a concentrated
form of several fruit and plant extracts specifically bilberry, sugar cane,
orange and lemon. However, since total acid concentration (30-50%) is lower
than its synthetic counterpart, many companies use synthetically produced AHAs
as the actual acid in varying concentrations is available.
18. How can glycolic acid be so versatile for so many different skin types and
AHAs, including glycolic acid, are a special group of organic acids found to
diminish corneocyte cohesion (reduce surface dead skin cells). Due to this unique
mechanism of action, they have been found to be beneficial for the management
of conditions involving hyperkeratinization i.e., psoriasis, ichthyosis, acne,
dry skin, etc.
19. Just how deep will glycolic acid go?
Glycolic acid penetration depends on several factors including, but not limited
to, acid concentration (percentage), pH (acid activity) vehicle (delivery system),
pre-existing condition of skin, etc. Multiple applications of a 70% pH 0.5 glycolic
acid solution with variable exposure times (30 seconds to 5 minutes) can wound
the skin progressively eventually effecting dermal tissue. This procedure would
represent a "superficial or light chemical peel" and should only be
administered by a qualified physician due to the possible complications involved
that a lay person may not be trained to rectify. Conversely, a 10% pH 4.0 lotion
would elicit "cosmetic benefits" (exfoliation) due to lower acid concentration
and activity (lower percentage> higher pH).
20. Isn't there a danger of "over-exfoliating" the skin, don't
we eventually run out of new skin cells to slough off?
A normal functioning epidermis naturally turns itself over usually on a monthly
cycle. This also varies from individual to individual due to a variety of factors
including genetic pre-disposition, environmental factors, age, drug therapy,
etc. This process of epidermal cell turnover is a continuous process. Removal
of hyperkeratotic skin (overly thickened stratum corneum) would not deplete
the epidermis of its natural ability to renew and replace skin cells.
21. How long have these products been tested and on animals or human volunteers?
Murad Advanced Performance Skin Care products have been used by over 500,000
people in a six year period, however, we do not test on animals.
22. Speaking psychologically, doesn't the word "acid" scare a
lot of people?
Basically, acids come in two forms, liquids and solids. They comprise different
forms and characteristics that are not always associated with corrosiveness
which is a common misconception. Examples of other acids include citric acid
found in citrus fruit, acetic acid in 4-6% concentrations commonly found in
household vinegar, the acid mantle of the skin' (pH 4.2 - 5.6) is a protective
barrier consisting of lactic acid and sodium lactate and finally "amino
acids" are the building blocks of protein. Approximately 83% of the skin
is composed of different types of protein (keratin, collagen, elastin). .
23. Inevitably high-concentration glycolic acid products will start to appear
over-the-counter. Should one be wary of these?
Glycolic acid concentrations can be very misleading to consumer and professional
alike. Higher percentages are not necessarily indicative of "better performance".
The intended use of AHA cosmetics is to elicit cosmetic benefits i.e., smoothness,
softness, clarity, retexturization, etc. Equally important to acid concentration
is pH. An eight percent glycolic acid solution with pH 2.0 will be considerably
more active than an eight percent glycolic acid solution with pH 5.0. Low pH
solutions (below pH 3.0) may induce skin irritation even at low concentrations
(2-5%) conversely high pH solutions (above pH 6.0) at higher concentrations
(8-12%) may be very ineffective at producing cosmetic exfoliation benefits.
Performance parameters must not be equated to concentrations alone. Glycolic
acid concentrations and pH are interdependent. Cosmetics containing various
levels of AHAs are usually, but not always, pH adjusted to pH 3.0 5.5 conforming
as close to the normal surface skin pH. This pH adjustment yields a ratio of
"glycolic acid to glycolic acid salt" reducing the potential of skin
irritation without compromising cosmetic performance.
24. Who should not have glycolic acid or other AHA treatments?
Glycolic acid, AHAs and other cosmetics intended to exfoliate the skin should
not be administered to skin exhibiting apparent irritation, extreme sensitivity,
open sores, cuts, abrasions, sunburn or chemical-thermal burns or used concurrently
with prescribed topical or oral medications without a physicians approval and