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Im a little confused about the purpose of AHA. Is it a treatment or a moisturizer? Will it minimize blackheads and shrink pores?

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Depending on the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the product and its labeling, an AHA can be exfoliative (a treatment) and/or a moisturizer. Lac Hydrin 5 or 12 are both a treatment and a moisturizer; they contain the AHA lactic acid.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Facial Lotion Night version with AHA (without SPF) is also a moisturizer and an AHA treatment, and it is one that's most often chosen by DKR users. Lac Hydrin 5 is another popular choice.

Other AHA products like the Avon one in my signature are treatments. Another example would be Nucelle or Vivant mandelic acid serums, or MaMa (mandelic and malic acid) lotion, etc. They provide exfoliation, and exfoliation is very important to improving skin texture, tone, and even helps with blackheads for many.

Salicylic acid (a BHA, the only BHA) is also an exfoliant and also exfoliates within the pore. Some AHAs exfoliate within the pore to some extent (mandelic being one such example), but SA does more so.

NOTHING shrinks pores. Pores are as they are. Pores can become stretched out with gunk in them, but regular exfoliation can help maintain clear pores, thus they don't get stretched out. A clean pore looks smaller than a full pore but is not actually smaller.

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Depending on the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the product and its labeling, an AHA can be exfoliative (a treatment) and/or a moisturizer. Lac Hydrin 5 or 12 are both a treatment and a moisturizer; they contain the AHA lactic acid.

How do I differentiate between those?

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If the AHA product lists its pH, and it's above 4, it's mostly just going to help with moisturization. If the percentage AHA is below 5%, it's mostly helping with moisturization and not exfoliation. If it doesn't say it on the bottle, you may be able to contact the company to get this information. For testing the pH, you could also use pH strips.

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A really great, inexpensive AHA to try is Alpha Hydrox 10% cream or their 12% soufflé. But only try these well after your skin is clear and you are well into the regimen. Adding an AHA too soon in the regimen can be too harsh.

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