Ep 85 – The Rogue Pharmacist: Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Use and Abuse

dropper of product in front of apples and oranges

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) presents The Rogue Pharmacist with Benjamin Knight Fuchs. This podcast takes an enlightening approach to supporting licensed estheticians in their pursuit to achieve results-driven skin care treatments for their clients. You can always count on us to share professional skin care education, innovative techniques, and the latest in skin science.

The acid that often gets overlooked or underused in today’s world of “bigger is better” is glycolic acid. For more great information on this Esthetic Mainstay, check out this blog brought to you by ASCP.

About Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R.Ph.:

Benjamin Knight Fuchs is a registered pharmacist, nutritionist, and skin care chemist with 35 years of experience developing pharmacy-potent skin health products for estheticians, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons. Ben’s expert advice gives licensed estheticians the education and skin science to better support the skin care services performed in the treatment room while sharing insights to enhance clients’ at-home skin care routines.

Connect with Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R.Ph.:

Website: www.brightsideben.com

Phone: 844-236-6010

Facebook: www.facebook.com/The-Bright-Side-with-Pharmacist-Ben-Fuchs-101162801334696/


About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) is the nation’s largest association for skin care professionals and your ONLY all-inclusive source for professional liability insurance, education, community, and career support. For estheticians at every stage of the journey, ASCP is your essential partner. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or would like to join and become an ASCP member.

Connect with ASCP:

Website: www.ascpskincare.com

Email: getconnected@ascpskincare.com

Phone: 800-789-0411

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ASCPskincare

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0:00:03.9 Tracy Donley: Welcome everybody to ASCP and the Rogue pharmacist, Benjamin Knight Fuchs. In each episode, we will explore how ingredients, chemicals and then environment can have a positive and negative effect on the skin. I'm Tracy Donley, Executive Director of ASCP, and joining me today and co-hosting is Maggie Stasek, our very own education specialist. Hi, Maggie. 


0:00:28.5 Maggie Stasek: Hey, Tracy. 


0:00:29.7 TD: Hey. So question for you. Are you a fan or foe of alpha hydroxy?  


0:00:36.5 MS: I love my alpha hydroxy acids, but in very small doses. 


0:00:40.0 TD: Small doses. Okay. Well, I bet you we're gonna hear a little bit more from Ben. Hey, Ben. 


0:00:45.3 Ben: Hey, good to see you guys again. 


0:00:46.7 TD: Good to see you today. We are going to be discussing alpha hydroxy acid's use and abuse. 


0:00:53.5 Ben: Okay. 


0:00:54.2 TD: Sound good?  


0:00:54.9 Ben: I love it. I'm a fan. I'm a fan. 


0:00:57.2 TD: Well, jump right into it. Where shall we go? Who is gonna question? How about Maggie? What's your first question?  


0:01:01.7 MS: My first question for you, Ben, is what makes an alpha hydroxy acid better or more aggressive or more potent? Is it percentage or pH?  


0:01:11.8 Ben: Well, it's kind of a fact you're both, but mostly pH, 'cause you can have a glycolic acid product that say, 20% concentration glycolic acid, but it's got a neutralizer in there that mix, give us a pH of say, five or six and you can have a glycolic acid 5%. Concentration doesn't have a neutralizer, it's gonna have a pH of two or three and it's gonna be much more potent. So this is one of the things that is tricky for the consumer, or even the esthetician, is that companies that make these price don't tell you the pH, they tell you the concentration, the skin has a pH of around 4.5-ish to 5-ish. PH, by the way is a measurement of... I'm sure everybody knows, it's a measurement of acid. So the skin pH is around like five-ish, say 4.5 to 5-ish. 


0:01:52.9 Ben: It fluctuates a little bit. By the way, healthier skin has a lower pH. Eczema skin, dry skin, older skin as we age, the pH tends to get pulled up, tends to be alkaline and a lot of skincare products tend to be alkaline because acidity implies energy, alkalinity implies sluggish-ness. So skincare products or skincare companies don't want their product acidic because too much energy means an unstable product and acid can destabilize products unless you're paying attention, so skincare companies will tend to want the pH to be a little bit higher, not only that, but if the skin has a pH of around four or five and you keep your product to five or six, you're not gonna really feel it and skincare companies don't want you to feel a product because if you can feel a product, you can over-feel a product and so skincare companies tend to wanna err on the side of doing nothing, because if you could do something, you could over-do something, so you really wanna look for... 


0:02:47.3 Ben: If you're gonna get a good alpha hydroxy acid product, you wanna look for a low pH. By low pH, I'm talking about pH of 3-ish. Sometimes if you wanna get an esthetician or a dermatologist, you're getting a procedure done, you'll get the pHs of 2 or even lower than two and each pH represents an algorithm, a 10 times marker. So a pH of 4, say this patient is 5, a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic. A pH of three is 100 times more acidic. A pH of 2 is a 1000 times more acidic than the skin, so a thousand times more acidic than the skin, you're gonna feel it. 100 times more acidic than the skin, a little bit, you'll feel it. 10 times more acidic than the skin, you're not gonna feel it at all. 


0:03:27.9 Ben: So the best place you wanna be is somewhere between three and four, low threes, I like to formulate my alpha hydroxy acid products between 2.8 and 3.2. And to me, I consider that to be a sweet spot if you really wanna do things. The cool thing about acid is that acid makes things happen. The body is geared... And when I say the body, the cells are geared to respond to acid with movement. When we say something is acid, what we really mean it has a... It's a fountain of energy, it's spewing energy. When we say something's alkaline, it's a vacuum cleaner, it sucks up energy and this is why acid and alkaline are said to be opposites because acid spews, it's a fountain; alkaline sucks, it's a vacuum. This is why you may have heard, you want your blood to be alkaline. You want the... Have you heard of this idea?  


0:04:15.2 TD: Yeah. Yeah. 


0:04:15.7 Ben: Because you do want your blood to be slightly alkaline, if it's not slightly alkaline, it's more acidic, you're sick. In fact, if you're had a hangover, that's part... One of the reasons is because your blood pH has dropped to acidic. 


0:04:27.2 TD: Is that why they're talking so much, one of the big trends is like pH in your body and all these different diets... 


0:04:35.1 Ben: Yeah. 


0:04:35.2 TD: Stopping eating and supplements... 


0:04:35.3 Ben: Absolutely, absolutely. The skin has a pH that's acidic because you want your skin to be a fountain, you want it pushing things away, skin is a barrier, right? So you want it to sort of be a force field, like it kind of microbes or the bad guys come close, your skin will push it away. PH is by the way, an electrical phenomena. We call it... We live in this chemo-centric world where we focus on chemistry, but chemistry only works because of electricity. Electricity is the foundation, it's one of the four forces. There's four forces in nature, and when they say four forces, they mean, that's the bottom line. We don't even know it. We can't describe it, so they just call it a force, and the electromagnetic or... 


0:05:14.8 Ben: For our purposes, the electrical force is a fundamental force. Chemistry is not a fundamental force, so chemistry only works because of electricity and pH seems to be a chemical phenomena, but it's really an electrical phenomenon, and when something is acid, it's spewing something called protons. Protons are the opposite of electrons and when something is acidic, it's spewing out protons, just to simplify, it's spewing out electrical energy. When something is alkaline, it's sucking electrical energy up. You want your blood to be alkaline? Think about this. You want your skin to be acid 'cause you want it to push things away like... 


0:05:48.8 TD: Be a barrier. 


0:05:48.9 Ben: Be a barrier. 


0:05:48.7 TD: Yeah. 


0:05:48.8 Ben: So why would you want your blood to be alkaline? So it can suck the energy from food. 


0:05:51.8 TD: Nutrients. 


0:05:52.5 Ben: Exactly. 


0:05:53.1 TD: Yes. 


0:05:53.6 Ben: Exactly. You want it to be a slightly alkaline, like a vacuum cleaner, so it can suck energy out. In fact, in the conversion between a pH and... Ph is a chemical or pH is a chemical phenomenon, and as an electrical phenomena involve something called voltage. When something is spewing out, we say it has a positive voltage. Voltage is the movement outwards, the push, if you will. And when something has an alkaline pH, a vacuum cleaner has a negative voltage. It's sucking out electrical energy and that's why you want your blood stream to be slightly alkaline. In fact, you want your cells to be slightly alkaline relative to their environment, so they can suck in nutrients... 


0:06:36.7 TD: More efficiently, right?  


0:06:37.5 Ben: More efficiently and as we age and as we get sick, our acid levels accumulate and our pH drops. 


0:06:44.2 TD: Ooh. 


0:06:44.4 Ben: Yes, so keeping your blood, your body and your... PH is a measurement that involves liquids, so your tears and your blood and your bile and your gastric juices, etcetera, these all have pHs. Your tissues don't have pHs, the liquids have pHs and keeping the main liquid in the body as the blood and keeping the blood pH at 7.38 exactly 7... Not 7.37. 


0:07:06.7 TD: Yeah, 7.38 everybody. Yeah. 


0:07:09.3 Ben: 7.38, right? Keeping it at 7.38 is extremely important if you have... Go to the emergency room 'cause you got a migraine or you're dizzy or you're weak or you're shaky, they'll take your blood pH to see if you're in acidosis, to see if you're making too much acid, because acid is a waste product. 


0:07:25.2 TD: Okay. 


0:07:26.2 Ben: Acid is produced by metabolism. It's a metabolic waste, but here's the coolest thing. The coolest thing is this metabolic waste, is a growth factor. It turns on growth because the body is so exquisitely designed that when a large amount of stress builds up or a lot amount of toxicity builds up, the body gets stronger to handle the toxicity. This is why you feel the burn when you're lifting weights, right? You wanna feel the burn. 


0:07:55.3 TD: Lactic acid?  


0:07:56.5 Ben: It's lactic acid. And lactic... What is lactic acid by the way? It's an alpha hydroxy acid. And so, lactic acid tells the body, "Hey, you're building up too much waste here, let's get stronger, so we can handle the waste." And cells are designed to grow and to move under conditions of acidity. And the measurement of acidity in the alpha hydroxy acid or any other acid is what I said earlier, the protons. And when the cell sees protons go up, it gets stronger, it gets bigger, it gets better and this is why acids can be so beneficial for either lifting weights when you feel the burn or on top of your skin. And this is what makes alpha hydroxy acids incredible active ingredients. In fact, they are the... 


0:08:44.8 TD: They've been around for ever. 


0:08:45.8 Ben: They have, they have been around forever, Cleopatra used to take lactic milk and people would... In the medieval times, they would use wine on their face or berries or... Alpha hydroxy acids are everywhere. They're the most fundamental, one of the most, maybe the most fundamental molecule in all of nature. Which is so cool for a topical ingredient, because you've got a topical ingredient that's everywhere that the human body evolved with. There's not just everywhere in nature, it's everywhere in the body. In fact... Have you ever heard of something called the Krebs cycle?  


0:09:16.3 TD: No. 


0:09:16.4 Ben: The Krebs cycle?  


0:09:17.5 TD: What is it? Tell us. 


0:09:18.3 Ben: Do you have biology background?  


0:09:19.8 MS: No. I'm not gonna tell you, Ben's gonna tell you... 




0:09:23.0 TD: Tell us, Benn. 


0:09:24.4 Ben: The Krebs cycle is this biological path or biochemical pathway. In chemistry... Chemistry's all about pathways. A gets turned into B, gets turned into C, gets turned into D, gets... That's all it's happening in the body. It's shape-shifting from... I call them tinker-toys. Chemical station or to tinker-toy. Tinker-toy A to tinker-toy B to tinker-toy C. That's called biochemistry, and this whole chain is called a biochemical pathway. And there's biochemical pathways for my collagen and there's biochemical pathways for how you see, there's biochemical pathways for digesting your food. Everything is just biochemical... 


0:09:53.8 TD: Everything. Oh yeah. 


0:09:54.3 Ben: Everything the body does is based on the biochemical pathway. Well, the most fundamental biochemical pathway is the biochemical pathway that makes energy. So you do everything. They're all the biochemical pathways are important, but without the biochemical pathway that makes energy, nothing happens, right? So the biochemical pathway that makes energy, results at the end of the pathway as a by-product in something called ATP. So ATP, Adenosine triphosphate, is how... And I'm not even gonna get into ATP 'cause that itself is just mind blowing. 


0:10:24.5 Ben: But anyway, ATPs are how everything gets done. And the biochemical pathway that produces ATP is called the Krebs cycle. And it was called The Krebs cycle because it was discovered by this guy named Krebs. They named it the Krebs cycle, but the real name of the Krebs cycle is the Alpha-Hydroxy acid cycle, because it starts with Alpha-Hydroxy acids and those Alpha-Hydroxy acids specifically citric acid, it's called, actually it's called the citric acid cycle. The citric acid is converted through this biochemical pathway into by-products that on the one hand are ATP and we call it the energy currency, but also lactic acid. 


0:11:05.3 Ben: One of the by-products of the production of energy is lactic acid. And so lactic acid accumulates the more the body's working. The more work you're doing, the more lactic acid accumulates and lactic acid is a waste product. But the way the body is designed is that when cells see this waste product, they interpret that as a need to grow. And so by putting acids on your skin, you can hack into that system. When you put acids on your skin, the protons from that acid make their way into the keratinocytes and to the cells, the cells get that energy and they interpret it as a stressor because for millions of years of evolution, lactic acid was coming in through the blood stream as a stressor and they grow. 


0:11:47.5 Ben: And so Alpha-Hydroxy acids have this unique ability that other exfoliating agents do not have to turn on cell growth by virtue of the fact that they are acidic. Now, Alpha-Hydroxy acids do a lot of other things. They can loosen the glue that holds the surface, the corneal cyst to the surface, to the stratum corneum, so they can help cells flop off. They can help remove pigments so they have a skin lightening effect. I said... They could make keratinocytes. They stimulate keratinocytes so the keratinocytes can divide. As keratinocytes are dividing, they are releasing moisture factors, so the more exfoliation and the more movement you have for the... 


0:12:23.9 TD: Of the keratinocytes upwards, the more moisture factors you have. So exfoliation with glycolic acid, or lactic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acids could moisturize the skin. And bonus, as if that's not enough from an active ingredient that's completely non-toxic by the way, that you can eat. As if that weren't enough, they also turn on the fibroblasts, because the fibroblasts respond the same way that keratinocytes do to make more collagen, to make more hyaluronic acid. You have to be crazy not to use alpha-hydroxy acids on a regular basis, every bit as much as you would be, not going to the gym, or not working out. And every once in a while I hear a healthcare professional who should know better, say something like, "Oh, don't use those, they're gonna hurt your skin." And, "Oh they're gonna... " 


0:13:05.4 TD: Well, can you overuse them? I mean, can you?  


0:13:06.2 Ben: Well, of course. Can you go to the gym too much? Yeah, of course you can. It's a balance, right. But that doesn't mean you throw out the baby with the bath water. 


0:13:11.8 TD: Right, right. 


0:13:12.2 Ben: You just take care of yourself. It's like saying... And I've heard this said before, "Oh don't use alpha... " I've heard people, intelligent people say this, "Don't use alpha-hydroxy acids, they're too stimulating on the skin, they'll burn your skin and they'll break your... " And there's physicians who'll say that. And to me, that's the craziest thing. That's like saying, "Don't go to the gym because you're gonna hurt your muscles. And park your car next to Target, don't park all the way... You know, so you don't have to walk all the way." 


0:13:35.2 TD: Don't get a walk. 


0:13:38.7 Ben: And when you're in Target, get one of those little golf carts and drive around, "Because you don't wanna walk all through Target and put all that work on your legs." That's what I think in my head, every time somebody says, "Oh, don't use alpha-hydroxy acids." 


0:13:48.9 TD: Or just lay in your bed. 


0:13:50.0 Ben: What's that?  


0:13:51.2 TD: Just lay in your bed. Don't do anything. 


0:13:52.4 Ben: Just lay in your bed. Don't do anything. Here, check this out. I love this, this is the first book I saw. 


0:13:58.8 TD: Okay. What?  


0:13:58.9 Ben: What does that say?  


0:14:00.0 TD: High on stress. 


0:14:00.9 Ben: Right?  


0:14:01.0 TD: Makes sense. 


0:14:01.1 Ben: Because stress is your friend. We're conditioned to believe that we don't want any stress and guess what? Have you been stuck in bed all day, how did that feel?  


0:14:08.8 TD: Horrible. 


0:14:09.3 Ben: Right? We love moving, we love stress, we just don't love excess stress. You know, people don't like their work, right? You hear people complaining about their work. If you only had to work one day a week, right? It's not that we don't like our work, we just don't wanna work five days a week, eight hours a day. Work one day a week, you couldn't wait to go to work. 


0:14:27.3 TD: Right. 


0:14:27.6 Ben: You would be so excited... 


0:14:28.7 TD: Or you'd find other work. You would make work. I make work. 


0:14:30.3 Ben: Or you'd find other work. The human body is designed to thrive under conditions of stress. But as we said earlier, that's not just stress. It's stress and rest. And it's a tiny little bit of stress and a lot of rest. 


0:14:46.6 TD: Right, yeah. 


0:14:47.3 Ben: It's a lot of rest, it's like bursts of stress. In fact, now they have something called high intensity training. Have you heard of this kind of training?  


0:14:53.9 TD: Yep, yep. 


0:14:56.0 Ben: That's how the body likes to exercise. Fast, hard, for 20 seconds, and then rest for two minutes. 


0:15:00.9 TD: So isn't that similar in some respects then to basically getting a peel?  


0:15:05.4 Ben: It's exactly the same. 


0:15:06.4 TD: So you're like... 


0:15:07.1 Ben: It's exactly the same. 


0:15:07.9 TD: You're stressing that face out, that skin out. It's like a burst. 


0:15:10.1 Ben: Bursts. In bursts. 


0:15:11.0 TD: And then you rest, and you nourish. 


0:15:12.6 Ben: That's right. 


0:15:13.1 TD: Right?  


0:15:13.4 Ben: That's why I like... When I'm formulating alpha-hydroxy acid product, I don't put them in creams or lotions or anything that stays on the skin. 


0:15:20.6 TD: That was gonna be my next question. 


0:15:21.9 Ben: I use them in toners and cleansers. Those are the two best places, in my opinion, for an alpha-hydroxy acid product, because then you could get that real kick-butt pH because it goes on and then it comes off. And even if you're using a toner, you're kind of wiping off the dead cells with it and even though there may be some residual product on there, for the most part, is coming off on your cotton pad. So when you put your alpha-hydroxy acid in a toner or cleanser, it allows you to interact with a hydroxy acid the way the body wants to interact with it. Not in a long-term fashion, but in a burst. 


0:15:52.2 TD: A big hit. 


0:15:52.9 Ben: A big hit and then remove it. And then, lots... Remember, short burst of stress, lots of long, luscious rest. 


0:16:00.1 TD: I think that's so interesting, 'cause I feel like I see it so much more in the lotions and creams. Like, "Oh, here's your night cream." 


0:16:06.4 Ben: Exactly where you don't want it. 


0:16:07.8 MS: Is there a difference between applying a chemical peel and having your AHA in a toner?  


0:16:12.8 Ben: Well, yeah, let me... That's a good question actually. Let me go back to what you're saying there about how you keep the alpha-hydroxy acid on your skin. If it was really low pH, you couldn't wear it like that. 


0:16:22.4 MS: Right. 


0:16:22.8 Ben: If it really had a PH that was really effective on the skin, remember the skin is at five, you wanna be 100 times more acidic than the skin, you couldn't do that if it was a really low pH. 


0:16:30.5 MS: It would hurt. It would be uncomfortable. 


0:16:32.0 Ben: It would be over-stressing. It wouldn't be that on/off kind of stress. So as far as your question goes, a toner and a peel... There's obviously, I see you made that connection 'cause they are... They're very similar. A peel is like an intense... When you go to an esthetician or dermatologist and get a peel. That's an intense version of a toner. So if you get a low pH toner, alpha-hydroxy acid toner, that's formula correctly, it's like giving yourself a home peel. It won't be as intense as the kind of treatment you can get at an esthetician. And I always suggest just like, you wanna work out at home but once and a while see a personal trainer. It's the same idea. 


0:17:04.8 TD: Oh, that's a good analysis. 


0:17:05.7 MS: Right? Because then a personal trainer could set you right, can make sure you're working a little bit more intensely than you would ordinarily do it at home. It's the same kind of analogy. 


0:17:13.7 TD: It's not as much of an investment of a recovery then, right?  


0:17:16.6 MS: Your skin's already primed, and that's very important. Your skin is already used to moving, and that's one thing that dermatologists and skin care professionals understand, is that primed skin responds better. So they're always... Even before laser surgery, they'll give you Retin-A or something like that, a retinoic acid, so that the skin is primed and ready to heal. So toning on a regular basis every other day or every third day, depending on your skin type, will prepare skin for better results from a peel. In fact, a smart esthetician will always send her client home with some low pH toner and have her get her skin used to it before she has her first peel. 


0:17:51.1 TD: Oh, that's a good hack. 


0:17:52.6 MS: And then you'll have better results from your peel. 


0:17:56.3 MS: Tell us, is there a big difference between alpha and beta-hydroxy acids, or really what makes something... 


0:18:02.0 Ben: Alpha and beta?  


0:18:04.2 MS: Yeah. And Alpha-hydroxy acid. 


0:18:05.1 Ben: So there's no such thing as a beta-hydroxy acid technically speaking. Alpha-hydroxy acid refers to the chemical structure. Chemists... The nomenclature of molecules tells chemists what a structure is. So if you're a chemist and you hear something's called an alpha-hydroxy acid, you can get a picture of what that molecule will look like. And so when you read these long to the uninitiated or the non-chemist, if they see these long names of things... You wonder what the... How am I gonna even pronounce that? What is the point of all that, you know?  




0:18:31.5 Ben: Alphabet soup. But if you break it down, you'll find bis-guana-di-hydroxy-methyl... You'll find these fundamental building blocks that tell a chemist what that chemical structure looks like, how it's going to interact, and some of its behaviors. How it's gonna work on the skin or how it's gonna work in the product, or what you need to do to make that ingredient go into a product or get through the skin. Gives you a lot of information, the name. So alpha-hydroxy acid means something to a chemist. It means something is a hydroxy acid that has something going on, Alpha. Well, turns out that alpha-hydroxy acids have a certain chemical structure where something is on one part of the molecule, which is called the Alpha part of the molecule and it's acidic. 


0:19:13.6 Ben: It's a very, very simple molecule. Beta-hydroxy acid. And there's only one. And that's salicylic acid. It looks nothing like a hydroxy acid. It has nothing to do with the name. It's just called beta to set it apart from alpha. So you can think about it as a partner or an associate or a colleague of alpha-hydroxy acids. But from a molecular structure, it doesn't look like an alpha-hydroxy acid, really. 


0:19:40.2 TD: So why do people then always wanna put them together? Is there something that... 


0:19:43.0 Ben: Well, it is a hydroxy acid. It is a hydroxy acid to be fair. But it doesn't have the same chemical structure. The reason they put it together is because they're both used for the same purpose. 


0:19:52.0 TD: Okay. 


0:19:52.6 Ben: Okay. But beta-hydroxy acids have a unique quality that alpha-hydroxy acids don't have. They do everything alpha-hydroxy acids do. But they also have an ability to work with the fatty part of the skin. And that makes them appropriate for acne and oily skin issues. And that also makes them appropriate for stronger peels. Because they have a more aggressive reaction with the corneum sites, with the cells on the surface. So you get a more intense, quicker, faster acting peel. And they're much more appropriate for oily skin conditions. Also, beta-hydroxy acids or salicylic acids as it's called, has some really interesting properties. And it's found in nature, in fruits and vegetables, just like alpha-hydroxy acids are. 


0:20:34.9 Ben: And the human body responds to these salicylates, they're called, or salicylic acid in a very interesting way, medicinally. Just like the aspirin is salicylic acid. It's a derivative of salicylic acid called acetylsalicylic acid. And that was the great discovery of aspirin, is that you could take this pill and not have a headache anymore. And we take that for granted. But in 1860 and 1850, that was miraculous, that, "Oh my God, I take a pill and I don't have any headache anymore. I don't have any pain anymore. My arthritis is going away." 


0:21:03.8 Ben: And the reason that is so, is because salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, acetylsalicylic acid. And also salicylic acid does. So in addition to being fat soluble and allowing it to get into oily skin and break up sebum and zits and pimples, and also to disturb the corneum site a little more effectively than an alpha-hydroxy acid, it also has anti-inflammatory benefits. So you get a wide range of benefits with salicylic acid, I.e beta-hydroxy acid that you don't get with alpha-hydroxy acids. On the other hand, alpha-hydroxy acids are water soluble, are much more easy to formulate with. They're much more ubiquitous in nature. They're a much simpler molecule. They don't have the same kind of reactivity that salicylates do have. 


0:21:46.9 Ben: And a lot of people are allergic to salicylates when taken internally, not so much topically. But when taken internally, a lot of people have allergic reactions to salicylates. And there are people who have... Who are told they have to stay away from certain foods that contain lots of salicylates in them. You don't have any of those issues with alpha-hydroxy acids. Much more benign molecule. You don't get a stronger peel unless you really go into the more intense pHs. And salicylic acid by the way doesn't have a pH. You can't really measure... 


0:22:12.6 TD: Oh, I didn't know that. 


0:22:13.4 Ben: Yeah, you can't really measure the pH of salicylic acid unless it's in a formula. Let me clarify that. If it's in a formula with water, it will have a pH. But if you just have salicylic acid in a toner or in a... In a peel, it's usually an alcohol. And alcohol doesn't carry a pH. You have to have water to carry a pH. That's one of the facts about pH. Salicylic acid doesn't have a pH. If you really wanted to force it into water, you make it a pH of a 2-ish for a 17% salicylic acid. But it's not really relevant. But on the other hand, alpha-hydroxy acids, much simpler to work with. They're very pH-dependent. PH is relevant for alpha-hydroxy acids. 


0:22:54.7 Ben: I like alpha-hydroxy acids a little bit better simply because they're not... I don't have to worry as much of the medicinal properties and the medicinal facts. But for an acne patient, salicylic is the go-to active ingredient. It is better, at least as effective. But when you factor in the toxicity of benzoyl peroxide, it's a better ingredient than benzoyl peroxide. It works just as well as benzoyl peroxide does. But you don't have any of the carcinogenesis or toxicity you do with benzoyl peroxide. So for me, for my money, salicylic is the go-to active ingredient for acne, for topical. 


0:23:26.5 TD: I think we're gonna wrap it up right there. 


0:23:27.8 Ben: Awesome. 


0:23:28.1 TD: Those are great last words. So hey, you guys, just wanted to make sure that I am reminding everyone that you subscribe. This is amazing stuff. Thank you so much, Ben. Thanks, Maggie. 


0:23:42.0 Ben: Thank you. 


0:23:42.9 TD: If you are not an ASCP member, you should be. We are the only association out there that it's exclusively for aestheticians, licensed professionals like yourself out there. And you can go to ascpskincare.com and join today. If you love Ben and how can you not, I would encourage you guys to get more from our rogue pharmacists at pharmacistben.com. And on that note, have a beautiful day, people. 

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