Back view of woman putting product in her wet hair

Acids under the alpha hydroxy acid category come from fruits and milk. They are popular ingredients in skincare products that address fine lines and wrinkles – but they can do so much more.

get the job done by removing the top layer of the epidermis (unlike beta hydroxy acids that go deeper into the skin). Because of this, they effectively even out the skin tone, get rid of scars, refine pores, and brighten the skin. Examples include and lactic acid. These exfoliate the skin, which can have numerous benefits for the skin.

Thanks to TikTok, glycolic acid is no longer just a skincare treatment – it’s also become a popular scalp cleanser. Fans to eliminate dandruff, improve circulation, and promote healthier hair. But does it work? Read on to find out.

How to Use Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Understanding the role of AHAs in skin care is essential before applying it to your scalp. As mentioned above, AHAs exfoliate the top layer of skin, revealing healthy skin underneath. Aside from fading scars and brightening, doing this also helps your skin absorb products more effectively by removing the barrier of dead skin.

Similarly, when applied to the scalp, it helps remove scalp buildup, which can be a mix of dead skin, products, dirt, and oil. The process unclogs your pores, which can help promote healthier hair growth. Work starts at the root, potentially creating an ideal environment for your hair to become strong and less prone to .

What’s the difference between glycolic acid and lactic acid? How do you choose? It all comes down to which one suits your needs best. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Generally, lactic acid is a milder exfoliant compared to glycolic acid. The latter also has smaller molecules that allow it to penetrate deeper into the skin. More people choose the latter because they think their scalp can tolerate it.

AHAs are usually applied like your favorite skin care product. For glycolic acid (usually a toner), you could pour some into a cotton pad and dab it on your scalp, focusing on . Avoid rubbing, which can irritate your skin and ruffle your hair cuticles. Pat it on like you do your K-beauty products and use a gentle touch.

Because these are acids, they are not for the hair per se. However, both glycolic acid and lactic acid are in many haircare products. Do not apply them directly to your strands and avoid using them on your scalp daily. Limit your AHA use to every other week. 

Daily Care Reminders

Acids such as AHAs can pose harm to your scalp when used incorrectly or if your skin is sensitive. Instead, why not go for a safer, tried-and-tested product that's specifically formulated to address the same concerns? Try TRESemmé Detox & Nourish Shampoo, which removes the buildup of products, sebum, sweat, and dirt on your scalp and strands. It’s safer and gentle enough for daily use. 

If you have a dry or sensitive scalp, avoid using exfoliants as these may aggravate the situation. Instead, use a nourishing anti-dandruff shampoo like Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo. Infused with Olacare Scalp Actives, doesn't cause a build-up in the scalp, removes dandruff, and leaves scalp healthy and flake-free. Follow up with Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Anti Dandruff Conditioner to moisturize your strands properly. It can help prevent further drying. Condition your hair daily for the best results.

Finally, care for your scalp by always rinsing it well and protecting it from . Wear a hat or scarf when under the sun to shield your hair from (just like your skin!).

Using alpha hydroxy acid on the scalp is not for everyone. Avoid using it if you have sensitive skin and scalp. It can address some issues, but it can also introduce some sensitivities and side effects such as redness, rashes, and dry skin. Use discretion when trying out TikTok trends. When in doubt, ask your dermatologist if it’s worth a shot.