On March 19, 2012 by constance

A reliance on the use of Glycolic Acid is widely used by the vast majority of therapists and practitioners in the hope that it will resolve common cosmetic skin concerns of every type. Leading author Leslie Kenton, founder of Origins discusses the merits of chiral correction in her book Skin Revolution. Kenton describes Glycolic Acid as the most widely used AHA and adds that glycolic acid is a caustic chemical related to the amino acid glycine, used in peels and to dissolve the dead sells on the surface of the skin.

The scientific arguments about Glycolic Acid over-use have been postulated for some years, in with anecdotal and scientific evidence that it exposes the skin to barrier disruption. The main issue with Glycolic Acid is how it is over-prescribed and expected to eradicate skin problems by removing the stratum corneum. Whilst exfoliation is an important step in an advanced skincare regime, a less irritating and disruptive modality than glycolic acid is advocated.

The body has not developed a receptor site for Glycolic Acid and this substance has a highly corrosive nature. It causes serious irritation, which can precipitate a free radical cascade initiating the skin’s immune responses. It is not the panacea for good skin, that many are naively misguided to believe. Recent research points to the need to maintain the delicate balance of the body’s phospholipids. Phospholipids are a major class of lipids in epidermal lamellar bodies, where they serve as a source of free fatty acids that are important for the maintenance of epidermal permeability barrier function.

Biao Lu et al, from The University of California in San Francisco, reporting in the Journal of Lipid Research on the expression and regulation of 1-Acyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphate Acyltransferases in the epidermis altered barrier requirements; which suggests that epidermal phospholipid synthesis is modulated to maintain epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis. This plays a vital role in barrier function and collagen synthesis and contributes to the vital function of protecting the nuclei of the cells in the epidermis and the collagen of the dermis. In continuously clearing away the stratum corneum, front-line treatments should not be corrosive as such processes. If this is ignored the long-term damage caused is measurable in pre-mature ageing and skin health damage.

Misleading, the percentage of a Glycolic Acid product has been the guideline for the potency of the product for vast majority of users. However, in addition to the concentration, the pH of the acid also contributes in determining the potency of the acid.

Patients who have used Glycolic often report skin smoothing and temporary reduction in fine lines, but this is as a result of irritation which causes erythema and therefore, plumps up the skin-temporarily. Meanwhile in deeper layers of the skin, the ingredient causes inflammation and ageing. Some Glycolic Peels can have a pH as low as 0.6 (strong enough to completely keratolyse the epidermis), while acidities for home peels can be as high as 2.5 A gentler and more effective AHA is lactic acid in its chiral correct enantiomer L-lactic acid. Naturally recognised by the skin cells receptor sites, it has optical activity. Glycolic Acid exhibits no optical activity.

Lactic Acid comes in three forms, D-lactic acid, DL-lactic acid and L-lactic acid. The first two forms are most commonly used by skincare manufactures since they are inexpensive and easy to come by. Neither the D- nor the DL- form is natural to the body. This does not mean that the D or the DL-form will not carry out the job of sloughing off dead cells, but the chirally correct L-lactic acid, can not only refine the skins surface, but can improve the way the skin functions also. Due to cell receptor recognition, L-lactic does not behave like a foreign invader in the skin so its molecular structure does not reap havoc. It has its own ability to calm skin and reduces the chance of scarring when used for peels. L-lactic acid also encourages the skin to manufacture more glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans, which form the gel-like modicum of the skin’s matrix. It also supports the skin’s plasma membrane and basement membranes – rich in strengthening and moisturising compounds. D-lactic acid and DL-lactic acid cannot do this. L-lactic offers effective skin refining and resurfacing yet is carries minimum risk or irritation. As L-lactic acid also brightens skin, this makes it a most useful tool in treating photodamage and pigmentation.

Chirally Correct compounds are required to communicate with the skin in the most effective way. They target specific receptors sites. so as to reduce irritation and inflammation whilst delivering skin correction and protection. The bottom line on all of this is that we do have strong evidence that Chirally Correct ingredients are better for the body, because they are naturally recognised by cellular receptor sites. If one considers how many molecules are skilfully engineered to unnaturally “mimic” and therefore deceive the cells’ receptor sites, my money is on natural recognition system through the Chirality system that nature naturally engineers to function. There is ample scientific, clear evidence that chirally correct ingredients are better for the skin and are certainly successful in treating challenging skin concerns through restoring skin cell function.

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