AHA+ is a lightweight yet moisturizing AHA exfoliant that contains 10% AHA formulated at an effective pH of 4. This would be an excellent, fragrance-free AHA exfoliant for those with normal to dry skin. Those with oily skin may find this exfoliant feels too creamy and would do better with a gel or liquid exfoliant.
Does glycolic acid help acne? It certainly can due to the nature of exfoliation. However, for many with persistent breakouts or blackheads, BHA (salicylic acid) is often preferred. Unlike AHA, BHA exfoliates inside the pore lining where clogging and breakouts have their roots. Also, because of BHA's relation to aspirin, it's a potent anti-inflammatory agent and also exerts a mild antibacterial action that complements the acne-killing prowess of benzoyl peroxide.
Although AHA+ wouldn't be our first choice for those struggling with breakouts, it's an option to alternate with a BHA exfoliant or to use if you're not as concerned about breakouts but have uneven skin tone, rough texture, or other signs of sun damage. Experiment to see what works best for you.
The licorice root extract this product contains is indeed a good anti-irritant.
Glycolic Acid (a.k.a. alpha hydroxy acid or AHA) powerfully exfoliates and helps bring new skin cells to the surface, which helps the complexion appear smoother. This product is a super high quality, completely non-comedogenic, 10% Glycolic Acid in a light feeling lotion which goes on clear and spreads easily. Just like Acne.org Moisturizer, Acne.org AHA+ (Glycolic Acid - 10%) also contains licochalcone, a molecule isolated from licorice root that helps calm acne-prone skin. It is fragrance-free and dye-free.
Water, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Stearate, Glycerin, Cyclomethicone, Glyceryl Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Licochalcone (Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract), Tocopheryl Acetate, Squalane, PEG-12 Glyceryl Distearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
Strengths: Inexpensive, effective formulas, most of which are fragrance-free; some of the products come in a variety of sizes, including travel sizes; good water-soluble cleanser; good AHA exfoliant; simple but effective benzoyl peroxide treatment; an intriguing anti-acne line for those with sensitive skin.
Weaknesses: No BHA exfoliants (while AHA can help improve breakouts, BHA, also known as salicylic acid, is preferred).
The Acne.org product line and website is a labor of love from Daniel Kern, a resourceful guy who struggled for years with acne before finally, through much trial and error (sound familiar?), finding what worked for him. He decided to share his story online so others struggling with acne would have a place to ask him questions, talk about their failures and successes with battling breakouts, post reviews of products they’ve tried, and boost each other’s self-esteem—which often takes a nosedive when persistent acne shows up.
After years of personal experimentation to get his own acne under control, Kern developed what he refers to as The Regimen. This is a 3-step system for treating acne that involves gentle cleansing, disinfecting with a benzoyl peroxide product, and applying a moisturizer.
The entire 3-step routine is super-detailed, so be prepared to read, re-read, and study the routine’s charts and images carefully before doing this, assuming you choose to follow it. One thing is certain: This is a routine that won’t get you out the door in a few minutes-- however, many who’ve adapted to it feel strongly that it’s worth it, and we’re not going to debate that when clear skin is the result.
Do you need to follow The Regimen to get great results with these products? No, and if you choose to follow The Regimen you do not need to use Kern’s Acne.org products—something he makes clear on his site. Although Kern shares some good tips and helpful guidelines, much of his info is rooted in personal experience rather than scientific research. Also, when it comes to acne, there’s more than one way to treat it—as most people with acne have likely come to discover. Kern’s Regimen is merely one more method to try.
We’re surprised that the Acne.org line doesn’t offer a BHA exfoliant, because BHA (salicylic acid) has mounds of research proving it’s an important, if not crucial, ingredient for battling blemishes (not to mention redness, blackheads, white bumps and red marks from acne). Instead, Acne.org sells an AHA exfoliant, which can be an option but many will have even greater results using a BHA exfoliant or at least alternating between the two if you like how Kern’s AHA product makes your skin feel.
Overall, although the Acne.org regimen isn’t as complete or as simple it may seem, most of the products are worth considering, and they’re affordable, too. Kern wisely avoids the use of fragrance or common irritants found in so many anti-acne products. Like us, we imagine Kern has wondered more than once why so many products claiming to improve acne only contain ingredients destined to make the redness, pain, and inflammation of acne worse, not better.
We’re thrilled to say that Kern’s products, while not perfect (but then again, no anti-acne routine will work the same for everyone), are considerably better than almost every other anti-acne line out there. It’s sad that there are so few truly effective (or at least strong potential to be effective) anti-acne products available, but you can add those from Acne.org to the short list of winners!
For more information on acne.org, visit www.acne.org or call (800) 773-7803.
Note: Acne.org also offers their products in various kits that feature different sizes and mixes of products depending on your needs and preferences. These, along with the individual Acne.org products are sold on the company’s site. You can also arrange to have Acne.org products or kits automatically shipped to you on a schedule you determine.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!