Skin Health
Know Your AHAs from Your BHAs: Skin Therapy at the Cellular Level With Active Treatments
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Skin care that works on the skin’s surface is not a bad thing. Superficial moisturizers can help skin feel softer and more comfortable. Physical sunscreens are not absorbed by the skin and are therefore ideal for infants and adults who are sensitive to chemical sunscreens. And it is always a good idea to use products that can be washed off easily, leaving no potentially irritating or pore-clogging residue. But for therapy, superficial care can sometimes be just that: shallow. For significant changes to be visible on the skin’s surface, they have to occur at the cellular level. Surface changes occur beneath the surface. To be clear, in cosmetic dermatological terms, “beneath the surface” is not necessarily deep (not getting to the dermis, for example). But certain active ingredients can work on the cellular level of the skin’s topmost layer as opposed to merely coating the exterior. And this cellular action is what can deliver visible, sustained results.

AHAs and BHAs and ACTIVES:

AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) like glycolic acid work at the base of the skin’s stratum corneum, dissolving the cement that holds dead skin cells together. This increases the epidermal turnover rate, causing the skin to regenerate faster, pushing newer, healthier, brighter cells up to the skin’s surface, and influencing the structure of the new stratum corneum being made.

Beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid), works similarly but is oil-soluble so it penetrates the skin’s oiliest areas best (the pores’ inner walls), making it ideal for advanced anti-acne therapy.

While not an AHA, retinoic acid is a gold standard active ingredient that works similarly to AHAs in that they’re all keratolytics: these ingredients accelerate the shedding of skin cells by decreasing their cohesiveness. Retinoic acid is particularly effective in causing desquamation of skin tissue, so dead cells get separated more readily.

There are other non-AHA ingredients that are well-documented in legitimate, published clinical studies to provide cellular efficacy. Some of the best-proven are:

– Kinetin: a growth hormone used to delay the aging of plants since the 1800s and whose recent studies on causing skin cells to behave younger have been impressive.

– Select plant extracts like kojic acid and vitamin derivatives can lighten the skin and treat melasma.

– Monolaurin: a coconut derivative disinfectant that is as effective as 70% isopropyl alcohol but without the dryness; an antibacterial comparable with leading topical antibiotics but without the risk of resistance to treatment; and an anti-fungal and anti-viral; and

– Virgin coconut oil: unlike moisturizers that work by preventing water loss, this unique, pore-friendly oil has fatty acids native to human skin and can replace lost lipids.


– Anti-Aging: check out Re-Everything with both unbuffered (non-neutralized, more effective) glycolic acid plus three antioxidants, a rich dose of virgin coconut oil and cell-rejuvenating kinetin.

– Lightening + Brightening: Illuminants+. This unique lightening, melasma, and hyperpigmentation therapy contains a plethora of effective actives — unbuffered glycolic acid, 9 effective tyrosinase inhibitors, three antioxidants, and a full-spectrum, indoor-outdoor sun and light screen.

– Acne: Id combines beta-hydroxy acid with coconut-derived monoglycerides to scour pores pristine and clarify face and body acne (including shaving/waxing bumps and sweat acne).

– Broader Care: SuperSkin Care features retinoic acid + clindamycin or mandelic acid + monolaurin to address several skin concerns.

Most VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® products contain monolaurin for disinfection and virgin coconut oil for hydration and improved cellular health.

Plus, our products are unequivocally hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic in order to prevent problems — to help you deter dilemmas even as you doctor them.

Since VMV started in 1979, our products have always worked towards cell-to-surface healthy, microscopically-sound skin. This is because our founder is a research-oriented dermatologist and dermatopathologist (a pathologist with additional training and certification in making diagnoses from skin biopsies). When not seeing patients, teaching, or writing clinical papers, she’s buried in a mound of journals and has her nose glued to a microscope. Which is how we’ve been trained to look at skin. And which is perhaps how we all should start thinking of skin care: cellular. After all, if your treatment makes your skin look good under a microscope, imagine how fabulous it’ll look in person.

Click here to learn how hypoallergenicity can help with most skin concerns, even active therapies.

Click here to learn about setting skin goals.

Click here for more on clinically-sound Vx Facials + Skin Services to boost your cosmeceutical regimen.

Click here to learn more about the VH-Rating System.

Click here for more on how we choose our ingredients.

Click here for more information on patch tests.