Living Reference Work Entry

Daily Routine in Cosmetic Dermatology

Part of the series Clinical Approaches and Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology pp 1-15

Date: Latest Version

Hydroxy Acids

  • Ediléia BagatinAffiliated withDermatology Department, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Email author 
  • , Lilia Ramos dos Santos GuadanhimAffiliated withTranslational Medicine Post-Graduation Program, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP)


Hydroxy acids (HAs) represent useful substances for skin care and chemical peelings and have been used typically in concentrations ranging from 2 % to 70 %, depending on the indication, pH, formulation, and application schedule. The higher the concentration and the lower the pH of the product, the greater the exfoliative, epidermolytic, and even toxic and corrosive action.

The most widely used hydroxy acids are glycolic, mandelic, and salicylic acids. Recently, other substances like β-lipohydroxy acids (BLHAs) and gluconolactone have been developed in order to enhance efficacy and diminish irritation.

The main effects of hydroxy acids in the skin are hydration, exfoliation, acceleration of collagen synthesis and modulation of matrix degradation, epidermal turnover regulation, inhibition of tyrosinase activity, and free radical neutralization.

The uses of hydroxy acids include the treatment of dry skin, hyperkeratinization, acne, rosacea and sensitive skin, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and photoaging, with a high tolerance and good safety profile.


Hydroxy acids α-Hydroxy acids AHA Salicylic acid Glycolic acid Bionic acid Polyhydroxy acid β-Hydroxy acids β-Lipohydroxy acid Chemical peels Mandelic acid Gluconolactone Photoaging Hyperpigmentation Acne