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AHAs, it's up to you to be a vigilantcon-
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Truth in Beauty: What You Don\’t Know--But Should--About AHAs by NANCY ANGIELLO


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I wrote this investigative piece on the potentially dangerous side-effects of AHA\’s (alpha-hydroxy acids) which had just gained prevalence in the cosmetics marketplace.

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Truth in Beauty: What You Don\’t Know--But Should--About AHAs by NANCY ANGIELLO

  1. 1. NOVEMBER HAIR ATTHE we lronsform 8 surprised HOWTO PSgr! much Flq*l ru u.s.A. $2.95 CANADA$3.50 FOREIGN $3
  2. 2. A REPORT: WHATYOU DON'TKNOW- BUTSHOULD-ABOUTAHAS INCI'THEYMAI]ETHEIIt the U.S. [ixrtl anrl Drug Atlnrinistraliorr. Y o r k C i t y , l h e A t l A l e v e l s i r r so r n e( 'o r .n - ov er-the- r 'ount erdebut As a result, llailey says,the l'l)A is "t'ur- lranies'prorlucts so low that tlre prorl- ale in Avon's Anew Perf'ect- r ent l y ev al ua t i n g t h e C I l l s t u t l y a n t l i s uct hastew AHA benefits. rl in rareirr- An ing Cornplex five years pur s ui ng adr l i t i o r r a l s l u t l i e s " o n A f {A s t a n ( 'e s , a ( 'o r n [ ) a n y r n a y n o t w a l l t l ( ) ago, alpha hydroxy a<'irls saf'ety. rnain conr:erns'/ Its AHAs' poten- r e v e a lr l u e s t i o n a l r l yr i g h l e ve l s. I ( AllAs ) h av e s paw neda t i al li r r bur ni n g t h e s k i n . a r r r l l e a r l h a t Wa r n i n g s a l r o u t s u r r se r r si l i r i l v u r e t h rivin g , rnu ltinrillion-rl oll ar i ndus t r y . I or r g- t t r r nr t r r l i g h t n r a k e u s e r s n r o r e us also absent.lf a <'ornparry knows througlr '['l'u,y'rcin virtually every skin-r:are protl- v ul ner al r l e l o t h e s u r r a n t l t h e r c f o r e t o i t s o w n e v a l u a t i o n s t h a t a p r o r l r r <'ti s uct f rorn fa<'e<'reanrs [<rot to scrubs to eye skin r:an<'er. strongenoughto increasetht'risk of sLrn gels.'fhisingrerlienl has marlethe cosmet- r l a n r a g e . h e C I l t r e c o r n n r e n r l sh a t l h i s t t ics intltrstryrich anrl the consunrer happy CONFUSION AT THE COUNTER lre rroterl the Jrxrrluct's on lalrel.Horvt'ver'. lre ca u seit <loe swhat women and m any P ic k uJ r any t l r u g o l r l e p a r t r n e n ts I o r e rnost<'ornpanies rlon't yet rkr this. ntett want: reducesvisible signs of aging A HA pr ot l uc t a n r l l o o k a t t h e l a l x r l . Y o u anrl sun rlarnage.Flnthusiasrn inr:reasetl as will finrl a list of ingretlients,requiletl by RISKS IN THE SALON publishedme<lit,al studiesshowedAHAs l aw, l r ut no n r e n l i o n o f p e r <'e n t a g e s r o "Nrxrntimepeels" have lret:orne lx)l)r.l- as to lxr elfer:tiveat sloughing tlearl <'ellsantl pH lt,vels. 'l'he (illl lar as rnanicrrres rnanysalons. in lrrnnxrtingthe growth of healthy new ones. Why? Sorne r:onrparries t:lainrthat list- ret,orrtttrerttls thesenonrrretlit'al that 1x't'ls It wasn'tuntil thesear:irls a<:hieverl wide- ini ; thes e r l et a i l s w i l l r : o n {'u s eh e <r o n - t r : o r r l a i nn o n l o r e t h a n i l O u e r t 'e r r tA Il As spreatl usage that a few complaints anrl surner."'l'he averaf{eperson rloesn'[know w i t l r a p l I o l r u rl e s st l r a r r l . ( I - r r r r , l i r ti r r ,l r i ('on('ernslrgan to srrr{a<:e. Now, recent re- wlrat pH levelsnrean.She nrightnot real- s t r o n g r l o s e . 'l 'h e s ef i r l n r u l a s a l e s tr o n l { lx)rts suggestthat AHAs may somelimes ize thal tlre forrnulanratters just as rnuch. enoughlo l'enlove the outer'layt'r of skin, rleliverl<xr rnuchof a grxxlthing antl might 'f he nunr l r t : t 's nl r e r n i s l t 'a <l i n g . " a y s <'a s (if anrl il'userlirllrrrrperly thr:1r'r'lis lcli orr in some instances even be harmlul. JaniceTeal, I'h.l), vit'e presirlent of'Avon l r x r L r n go r t h e p r t x l u <'t t s e l f i s u r r sta l r l e ) i Skin Care l,alxrratories. lxrseseriousrisks. Nightrrrare lelxrr'lsfirr' A CLOSER LOOK AT AHAs In sorrrc(:ases,a ('ornl)arry nray httve Itigltt:r-<'on<'t:r'rtlation inr'lurlelrrrrrr-lrels I'iveryone wants to love AHAs. Hanl st,i- s onr et hi ngt o h i r l e . A <'<'o r t l i n t o l ) i a n e g i n g . 1 r e l r t t i t r t r ,lrrt,lr l r r r . s s .i g r r r r . r r l l r .g r r - p ir t'trcehas proven that they work. But there B er son, M . l ) . , a r l e r n r a t o l o g i s ti r r N e w larities arrrlst'alrirrg.llow- (Otntitttrul) are <questions. What are the lorrg-terrn ef- fe t:ts o f th e b urning and i ll it at i on? Do they skrugh trxr rnur:hol'the skin's outer layr.r,lt,avingit vulnerableto su1 damage what labels tellyou the don't anrl inler:tion?' Somecompaniesprovide information percentages specific about and In responseto these (ioncems,the Cos- pHlevels phone youask.Here's short onwho's by if the list telling what. nretic IngrerlientReview (CIll), an ann of l. ltPlll llY0R0l( is oneof thefewcompanies hasalways This that listedAHApercentages. tht' Cosrnetir', 'liriletrv and h'ragrant'e Thenumbers: Sensitive Creme: percent Skin 5 glycolic; RegularCreme Lotion: per- and 8 Assor:iation (C1'1.'A), launched an in<lepth cent;Enhanced Creme Extra and Strength Oil-Free Formula: percent; 10 Deep Therapy Foot s tu rly la st yea r. In J une, t he C TI 'A an- Creme: percent. 12 (While company's cream the foot contains percent 12 AHAits highpH notrncerl the Clll's Irnrlings: glycolit,and buffers strength. 80G552-5742 questions information the Call for or aboutpH levels,which lat'tic a<'ids(the lrost comlnoll AHAs) are arebetween and4.5percent.) 4 salein <,osnretir.prrxluctslongas they're as userl in concentrations no higher than of 2. llE0SIRlIl Although company this doesn't percentages labels itsExuviance list on of line, l0 per<'ent, with a pH level of no lessthan it doeshave hotline(80G22t9411) willgiveyouthese a that facts: Exuviance RegularFor- 3.5. Although the report saysthat thesetwo mula(creams fluids): percent and 8 glycolic acid;Sensitive Formula: percent 4 gluconolac- a cid s rlo no t signific antly inc r eas e t he (an tone AHA formula with made alpha beta and hydroxy acids);Essential Lightener Skin Gel: potential for sun damage,it strongly urges 10percent glycolic acid.These products pH have levels 3.8.of martufar:turerc put wamings on labels if to 8. A|.|.mGfil callto thetoll-free A number (888-727-63251yields thefollowing details about their parlir:ular prorluct does. thiscompany's AquaGlycolic line: Facial Cleanser: percent 12 glycolic;AquaGlycolic Many experts are unsatisfietlwith the Shampoo BodyCleanser: percent & 14 glycolic compound; AquaGlycolic Face Cream: 10 CIR' s rep ort anrl rec on r m endat ions . percent glycoliccompound; AquaGlycolic Hand BodyLotion: percent. pH levels & 14 (All " T o o tn a ny q ues tions hav e ler nai ned are4.4-high enough buffer higher to the percentages AHAs. of These productshave been unansweretl,"says John Bailey, director on themarket fiveyears areoftenrecommended dermatologists.) for and by of the Offi<:eof Cosrnetics and Colors trt I l.l. N or er t t l rr l (I )i . (, i rrrrrrrrr
  3. 3. AHAs, it's up to you to be a vigilantcon- sumer. You needto consider theseissues and risks: (Continuecl) ever, salons are not regulated '1.Increased sensitivity sun There is grow- oor-r-l lr-nq9 by the FDA, and while cosmetologists ing evidencethat most AHA products have lo be licensed by their state,require- make usersmore vulnerableto sun dam- rnentsvary greatly,saysthe FDA's Bailey. age."If you'reusing AHAs, weara sun- Scary but possible: A hairstylist might screen with SPFl5 or higherdaily---€ven perforrn your glycolic peel. Skin-care if you haven'tappliedthe productthat NOXI rnanufar:turersare attempting to reduce the likelihoorl of this by offering training anrl guidelines, but countless salons slip through the <'racks. moming,"saysBailey. 2. P regnancy' oN o studi e s have been done on whetherAHAs poseany dan- ger to pregnant women.We don't know lnor-ttl whetherthe chemicals themselves can An ent:ouragingdevelopment: Some salonsare asking clients to fill out assess- affect the fetus," says Lynn D rake, nrent lbrnrs before booking AHA treat- M.D ., chai r of the departm ent der - of nrcnts. lirr now, answering the questions matol ogyat the U ni versi t y of Okla- Youn Guide Nightmarereports higher-concentratio on toHoliday wow! peels include permanent burning, redness, High-impact hair anomaKeup pigment irregularities scarring. and Fashion that finds flatter lnalanf al. naa h orr lhe {irrrnsis lhe besl way of ensuring homaHealth Scienr:es Centerin Okla- r r Drar rLoLr ;oo-l)U S Ie fS t y our s al et y . H e r e 's w h a t a n y r e p u t a b l e homaCity."For now,if you'repregnant, andhappiness-boosters s alon s houl r l {l n d o u t f r o m y o u : avoidthem." lrresistible food, O l)o you always burn, never tan'/ (If so, 3, Non-Caucasian skin No researchhas the sakrn shoulcl do a gentler peel.) beenpublishedaboutrisk levelslor var- cocktails gifts and o Have you harl allergic reactions? (lf ious ethnic skin types.Lawrence Moy, yuu've hatl reactionsto skin care,the salon M.D ., a dermatol ogi stn M anhat t an i nray re{useto do the peel.)o Are you preg- Beach,California, formulates different Guys Honest Get nant'/ O I)o you have heart, hormonal or products Asian skins.Somederma- for you 7things shouldnever lhyrnirl lrrrrblerrrs; skin (:an(,er; diabetesor high o r l ow bl <x r dp r e s s u r e ?( T h e s a l o n tologistscaution againstdeep peels for darkerskins of all ethnicities.If you are dotoa man bed in nray have you <'heckwith a doctor.)o Are unsure,test AHA productson your arm y ou t a k i ng an y n r e <l i t : a t i o n s , c : l u d i n g in or checkwith your doctor. lr ir t h <'ont r olp i l l s , A <: r : u t . a no r t o p i c a l e 4. Medi cati ons o researchhas been N Readens Rate r r r et lir : at i ons '/ l f y o u a r e t a k i n g s u n - ( doneon how A H A s reactw i t h cer t ain theTnends sensitizingnredir:ations, salon won't do the peel.)o Have you ever had an adverse the drugs.Nonetheless, of AHAs may use be contraindicated you'reusing any if Theyear's best/worst reat:tiunto a cosmetic product? (The s:rlon drug that sensi ti zes your s ki n t o sun- nray perlirrnra gentler peel.) "These forms Ii ght. B i oMedi c,a compa nyt hat sup- fashion, beauty, are userl [o assessrisks so the esthetician pl i es A H A productsto do ct or s,cau- rnen, celebs, everything knows whether to do a weaker exfolia- ti ons agai nstusi ng A H A s w i t h "any tion-or none at all," says Barbara Sa- knownsensitizing oral and topicalpre- lornone,C llO o{'Bioelements. scriptionproducts"(suchas Accutane, WomentheYean of I t ' s al s o i r n p o r t a n t t h a t y o u a s k t h e s alon' s s t af f q u e s t i o n s , i n c l u d i n g : tetracycl i ne)becausethese m edica- tions in combination with AHAs exac- Doers darers and to O What per(:enta€le level are you recom- erbateyour sensitivityto the sun. Call insnire t-cnonSOfed /ot il r vlJil v J/ vu uvv nren<ling my face, and why? o What for your doctorif you'reunsureaboutcom- s it le el l er : t s or i r r i t a t i o n c a n I e x p e c t ? bi nati ons.(For B i oMedi c' s l i st , call bvdiet Coke O What is your training? How often have 800-736-515s.) you perlbrrned this treatment? o How 5. AHAoverload How much is too much? thedecember has t hi s pr odu c t b e e n t e s t e d ? O C a n I test it on my arm first? There is no consensus about the cumu- lative effect of using creams,peels and issue sale on lf the salon does not ask you questions or cannot answer yours, exit quickly. w ashes.S o don' t aband on comm on sensein excitement over the real, dra- matic resultswe know AHAs can offer. november 18- FOR NOW: A SAFE APPROACH TO THE UNKNOWN Stick with reputablecompanies, less- is-more regimen-and don't put your a miss don't it! Until the cosmeticsand medical commu- nities come up with clearer answersabout face in the handsof an AHA "exDert" who really isn't one. November 1997, Glamour