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Below you will find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. If your question or concern is not addressed here, please feel free to contact us at

Is Alpha Skin Care or any Neoteric Cosmetics product tested on animals?

From start to finish, none of our products are ever tested on animals.

What is the shelf life of my product?

Unless otherwise stated on the box or container, the shelf life of Alpha Skin Care products is approximately 3 years.

I have Celiac disease. Are your products safe for me to use?

Though a few of our products contain gluten, an article from Mayo Clinic says that such skin care products and cosmetics aren't a problem unless you accidentally swallow them. For this reason, avoid using any products that do contain gluten on your lips or around your mouth.

When should I start using anti-aging products?

The day before yesterday. Seriously, the use of anti-aging products from as young as 18 has been shown to slow the effects of aging. Of course, the consistent use of a good daily sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) is the first step in fending off the signs of aging.

Can I use some of my other skin care products while using AHAs?

AHAs are ideal for use with other products, as they can enhance the penetration of ingredients into the skin. However, watch for irritation. It is usually best to alternate the application of AHA products, prescription skin products or other anti-aging formulas. This is especially important with products like Retin-A, Renova, Retinol and some acne control products. Avoid overdoing it—more is not always better.

Can I use self-tanners while using AHAs?

Exfoliating your skin with AHAs prior to using a self-tanner will help improve its effects.

I have been using a product with 5% AHA. What will happen if I start using a higher percentage?

You will most likely have the same experience you had when you started using the lower level AHA.

My skin no longer tingles when I use AHAs. Have they quit working for me?

Lack of tingling does not mean your AHA product has quit working. Once your skin has become accustomed to AHAs, you will notice little (if any) tingling. However, an occasional tingling may recur if your skin has been exposed to too much sun or been damaged by wind or environmental pollutants.

What happens if I quit using AHAs?

If you discontinue the use of your AHA product, your skin will slowly revert to its original condition.

Are products that contain AHAs just glorified moisturizers?

Products that contain low percentages of AHA or AHAs with large molecular structures and products that have an overall high pH level will act only as a simple moisturizer.

Can I tan outdoors or in a tanning bed while using AHAs?

Your skin is exposed more directly to ultraviolet rays in a tanning bed than in the sun, so the damaging effects are worse. Sunscreen is an ABSOLUTE must.

How can I keep my hands looking youthful?

Hyperpigmentation (brown spots) can be lightened and even completely removed with a bleaching cream, such as our Dual Action Skin Lightener. Additionally, nightly use of a vitamin A cream, such as our Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream with .15% Retinol, can help speed up the lightening effects. Always remember to use a sunscreen SPF 15 or higher on your hands to help prevent new spots.

What is the difference between exfoliating with AHAs and using one of the new microdermabrasion systems?

AHAs exfoliate the skin by working low in the stratum corneum, loosening the bonds that hold dead cells on the skin. This stimulates new cell growth, allowing fresh cells to surface without breaking down the small capillaries in the skin. Microdermabrasion is a harsher, more aggressive treatment of the skin, yet it removes only the dead surface skin.

Do AHAs thin the skin?

Topically applied alpha hydroxy acids thin the outer stratum corneum (lower layer of skin), making it more compact and flexible. However, they have been shown to substantially increase the overall thickness of the epidermis (outer layer of skin), which is accompanied by increased collagen production.

Are AHAs irritating to the skin?

AHAs are exfoliants that actually change the skin, lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin tone. AHAs may cause some level of irritation at the onset of use. Glycolic acid, the most effective in the treatment of aging or sun-damaged skin, has the highest level of irritation and the best results. The AHAs that are most commonly used in moisturizers are less irritating, but their larger molecular structure prevents them from penetrating the skin and producing noticeable results.

What is the difference between alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA)?

Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) works from the uppermost layer of the skin, dissolving skin layer by layer. AHAs work at the lowermost levels of the stratum corneum. Salicylic acid, a BHA, is most frequently used in wart removal and acne products.

Will a cleanser containing AHAs be enough to lessen my lines and wrinkles?

Though using a cleanser containing AHAs may temporarily rejuvenate your skin and will do a wonderful job preparing skin for the use of an AHA treatment product, rinsing AHAs down the drain will not bring lasting results. In order to do the serious work of improving the skin, AHAs need to be left on.

What are the types of AHAs?

There are several types of AHAs from varying sources:

Glycolic acid from sugar cane, lactic acid from milk, citric acid from citrus fruits, tartaric acid from grapes, malic acid from apples and mandelic acid from almonds.

Who should use AHA treatments?

Products containing AHAs are recommended for those whose skin is showing signs of aging. Regular AHA applications can remove fine lines, brown marks and dry spots. Glycolic and salicylic acid may also prove helpful for those prone to acne.

Can I use AHAs when I am pregnant or nursing?

Since AHAs are fruit acids and do not enter the bloodstream, concentrations under 15% should be safe for use during pregnancy. However, it is always best to let your physician have the final word about the products you use when trying to become pregnant, during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Can teenagers use AHAs?

Teens are exposed to the sun and environmental pollutants just like anyone else. Exfoliation is quite beneficial for a teenager’s skin, as removing damaged cells helps unclog pores.

Can I use AHAs in conjunction with prescription drugs?

Though it would probably be just fine to start using AHAs while taking a prescription drug, it is always best to consult your physician before changing any part of your routine when taking medications.

Are AHAs beneficial on ethnic skin?

Sun exposure and environmental pollutants affect all skin types and colors. AHA exfoliation smooths the skin, helps balance skin tones and alleviates blotchiness. Irritation, however, can cause hyperpigmentation in some darker skin tones, and the skin of those who are of Asian, Indian or Spanish descent is more susceptible to irritation. Gradually building up to a higher percentage AHA should yield the desired results.

Can people who have skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and acne use products that contain AHAs?

Though many people use AHA products to help with various skin conditions, it is recommended that you consult with your physician before trying new products if you have a skin condition.

Can men use products containing AHAs?

Alpha hydroxy acids are beneficial for both men and women. Not only do AHAs reduce the appearance of wrinkles, they also make skin softer, smoother and less dehydrated. Men also find that AHAs help them avoid the occurrence of tiny shaving bumps and actually make shaving easier.

How do AHAs work?

The rate at which old cells leave the surface of the skin and are replaced by newer cells slows down over time, resulting in skin that looks tired, dull and rough. It is scientifically proven that alpha hydroxy acids bring back the skin’s healthy appearance by loosening the glue-like substance that holds the dead cells to the skin’s surface, allowing the dead skin to peel away. The skin underneath has a fresher look with a more even color and texture. At higher concentrations and with long-term use, AHAs may also affect the deeper layers of the skin, making fine lines much less obvious.

What do AHAs do for the skin?

* AHAs exfoliate, increase the thickness of skin and encourage new collagen formation, all of which lessen the appearance of wrinkles and reverse the effects of sun damage.

* AHAs treat a number of skin conditions, including acne, dry skin, clogged pores, hyperpigmentation (brown/dark spot or blotches) and irregular pigmentation (uneven skin tone) associated with pregnancy, hormonal changes and the use of birth control pills, among other things.

* AHAs visibly reduce wrinkles and sun damage. When used daily, AHAs will noticeably improve the skin’s appearance. An all-over healthy glow and smoother, rejuvenated skin are the end results.

How do can I know which AHA is right for my skin?

Selecting the appropriate AHA is very important and depends on the condition and needs of your skin. When choosing a product, consider the following:

* Glycolic acid - With the smallest molecular structure of all AHAs, glycolic acid most easily penetrates the skin’s surface to remove excess cells and help the surface layers retain moisture. Glycolic AHA is widely recommended by dermatologists and is particularly effective in anti-wrinkle and acne products.

* Lactic acid - The molecular structure of lactic acid is larger and does not penetrate the skin as well as glycolic acid. Though not as effective in skin treatment products, lactic acid has the best humectant properties, making it an excellent choice for facial and body moisturizers.

* Citric acid – This is most often used in cosmetics in a 2-3% concentration for the purpose of adjusting the product’s pH.

* Tartaric acid – This acid is quite strong and is normally used only in AHA skin care blends.

* Malic acid – The moisturizing properties of malic acid are not quite as potent as those of lactic acid.

* Mandelic acid – Because of its large molecular structure, mandelic acid is not widely used in the cosmetic industry, though it is occasionally used in moisturizers. It is more often found in oral drugs.

I am most interested in using AHAs to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. What should I look for in an AHA product to achieve the results I am hoping for?

The three most important aspects of an effective alpha hydroxy acid product are:

* TYPE OF AHA - Glycolic acid has the smallest molecule of the AHA family and is therefore more easily absorbed into the skin.

* PERCENTAGE OF AHA - To be an effective exfoliant and to speed cell regeneration, the percentage of AHA in a product should be 8% and above. Products containing 15% and above should be administered by a licensed aesthetician, physician or nurse.

* OVERALL pH LEVEL - The optimum pH for exfoliation and cell renewal stimulation is about 4.0. At higher pH levels, little (if any) exfoliation occurs. Levels much below 3.5 would be very irritating.

NOTE: The percentage of AHA and the overall pH level are equally important. A higher concentration of AHA does not mean it is more effective unless the proper pH is present. This relationship between the strength of the AHA and the pH level cannot be overestimated. For this reason, an alpha hydroxy acid preparation sold to the public should be labeled with not only the identity and percentage of the AHA used, but also with the pH level.

What is different in the AHA product that costs $100.00 versus the $20.00 product?

The price of an AHA product (or any skin care product for that matter) does not in any way reflect its efficacy. AHA products should be chosen solely on the basis of (1) Type of AHA, (2) Percentage of AHA (3) Overall pH level. In many cases, more expensive simply means more expensive.

Should I use only products from one brand?

Though it is not necessary to purchase all products from one brand, it is imperative to know the effects of each product on your skin in conjunction with other products. When using an AHA treatment, be sure the cleanser you use beforehand leaves your skin pH balanced and residue free. Any products that you use after applying the AHA treatment should be non-irritating. It is often safer to use all products within one brand, as they have probably been formulated to work best together.

I didn’t do the recommended patch test and my face is burning and itching. What is the problem and what can I do to relieve it?

Burning and itching can indicate an intolerance to the AHAs or to any other ingredient in the product you used. First, make sure you rinse thoroughly with cool, clear water and apply cold compresses to ease the burning sensation. Later, when the burning is less prevalent, apply a light moisturizer. You may experience some peeling for the next week, but a good moisturizer will help you through this period. Allergic reactions are normally accompanied by burning or itching and possibly a rash or some level of swelling. In addition to rinsing and applying cold compresses, you may need to use an over-the-counter cortisone cream (available at any drugstore.) An antihistamine should also help relieve the itching. Severe allergic reactions may require a visit to your physician.

I really want to use AHAs but my skin is so sensitive. How can I overcome the sensitivities and get started on a regimen?

Try starting out slowly. Instead of applying AHAs every morning and evening, try applying only once a day or every other day. For the first few weeks, you might even try mixing a small amount of your AHA product and a moisturizer in the palm of your hand (not in the container) to dilute it a bit. Then, over a period of time, use more AHA product and less moisturizer until your skin becomes accustomed to the full-strength AHA.

I thought AHAs were supposed to make my skin look softer and smoother, but since I started using them about a week ago, my skin seems drier than ever. Why?

For the first few weeks after you start using products containing AHAs, your skin may look drier than normal. You may even experience flaking and rough areas. Put simply, your skin is exfoliating. Depending on your skin type and condition, the process of exfoliation can take a few days and up to six weeks. The process can be slight to extremely visible. Use a very good moisturizer during the initial stages of exfoliation and remember that good things come to those who wait.

Every time I try to use a product containing AHAs, I break out. Is this normal?

First, make sure that what you are experiencing is a blemish, not a rash. A rash indicates an allergic reaction, whether it be to the AHAs, a change in detergent, something you ate, etc. However, the appearance of a few blemishes when changing skin care or cosmetic products is not uncommon. Particularly in the case of adding an AHA to your skin care routine, a few blemishes are quite normal as the bond holding the surface dead skin is broken and impurities in the pores begin to be released. Stay the course and don’t pick at those blemishes. In a few weeks, your skin will be better than you ever believed possible.

I am getting married in a month and I want my skin to look its very best. Can you tell me how to get started on your AHA products?

This is not the time for you to start on a new skin care routine. Though AHAs do improve skin tone, making skin look radiant, it is never advisable to change any products in your routine a few weeks before a big event. Since AHAs exfoliate the skin, you may have some dryness and possibly even a few blemishes for the first few weeks.

Do I need a moisturizer no matter what my skin type is?

No, not everyone needs a moisturizer.

Can too much moisture cause problems for the skin?

Yes. Moisturizers are great for someone with dry skin. If you have oily or combination skin or if your skin is prone to blemishes, lotions or cream-based moisturizers can cause problems.

What can I do to reduce the signs of aging on the skin on my neck, chest and other body parts?

Good skin care does not stop at the face, and aging can sometimes be even more obvious from the neck down. This is especially true for those of us who didn’t protect our bodies from sun exposure. Whatever you use on your face should also be used on these areas of your body. However, if the skin on these areas is dry but the skin on your face is oily, you will need to add an additional moisturizer to your body care routine.

As a woman of color, should my skin care regime be different than those of Caucasian women?

No. All skin, no matter your ethnicity, needs to be gently cleansed, exfoliated, and moisturized in dry areas. It is equally as important for a woman, man or child of color to wear sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

How do I know what my skin type is?

Remember that skin types can change depending on the season, hormones and stress. Here is a simple way to determine the skin type you currently have. Between three and four hours after you’ve washed your face and before you have applied any skin care products or makeup, take a good look in the mirror.

* NORMAL SKIN - Entire face looks smooth, fresh and slightly matte

* DRY SKIN - Entire face looks matte and dry or taut

* OILY SKIN - There are areas all over your face that are noticeably shiny

* COMBINATION SKIN - Some areas of your face look shiny and some look matte

* ACNE-PRONE SKIN - Some areas of your skin occasionally break out with blemishes. Acne is not solely a problem of people who have oily or combination skin; those who have normal and dry skin can also be affected.

Is propylene glycol really an industrial antifreeze?

Propylene glycol is a humectant and delivery agent used extensively in cosmetics and skin care products. There are websites stating that propylene glycol is really industrial antifreeze and that the material safety data sheet (MSDS) on this ingredient warns against skin contact. What these sites don’t tell you is that the MSDS is referring to 100% concentrations of a substance (water and salt have frightening comments regarding their safety according to their MSDS). Propylene glycol is used in cosmetics only in the smallest amounts to keep products from melting in high heats or freezing in low temperatures. It also helps active ingredients penetrate the skin. In the minute amounts used in cosmetics and skin care, the ingredient poses absolutely no risk.

Do I need to use a moisturizer when I am using AHAs?

If you are experiencing dryness, tightness and/or peeling, you will probably want to include a moisturizer in your skin care routine. Once those conditions subside, you may find that you no longer need an additional moisturizer.

Why is it so important to use a sunscreen when using products that contain AHAs?

Since sun damage is a major factor in the premature aging of skin, you need to wear a sunscreen whether or not you use AHAs. However, use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher during sun exposure is a must when using alpha hydroxy acids and for a week after you stop. AHAs reveal younger, fresher skin cells, which are more vulnerable than the old dead skin cells.

What is retinol?

Retinol is another name for the vitamin A molecule.

Is retinol good for my skin?

Retinol works as a cell-communicating ingredient. It actually tells the skin cell to look like a more normal, younger cell.

Is prescription retinol better for my skin than the over-the-counter version?

All forms are excellent for preventing and improving signs of aging. Prescription retinols are stronger and work faster, but they pose a greater risk of irritation than the over-the-counter versions.

How often should I use retinol?

Some people use it once a day, every day. Other people use it only 2-3 times per week. You can try it out to see what works best for you.

Can I apply retinol on the eye area?

You can use retinol under the eyes but never on the eyelids.

Can I use retinol in my AHA regimen?

Yes, you certainly can. We recommend that you use the AHAs during the day and the retinol in the evening.

Can I use retinol when I am pregnant or nursing?

Yes. Though doctors advise against using a prescription retinoid when you're pregnant or nursing, a less potent over-the-counter retinol product, like our Retinol ResQ, is considered safe. Of course, your physician will have the final call on any of the products you use while pregnant or nursing.