Earlier this Fall, an invitation dropped in for me to get a chance to meet with the founder and Director of cult-status skincare brand Alpha-H Michelle Doherty and undergo one of their signature facial treatments performed by one of the brand’s leading therapists. I basically jumped up and down!
Think of it: how many global, family owned and operated skincare brands do you know about, that is still going strong and growing larger even as they celebrate their 21st Birthday? This is a bit of the classic “work your way to the top”-kind of company where nothing was ever taken for granted and determination and long term goals have been a huge part of the success. That; and the love for Glycolic Acid.
I was meeting up with Michelle, her daughter Jamee Doherty – Brand Manager for Alpha-H and the PR team of luxury shopping destination Harvey Nichols – Dubai where the brand recently launched their most beloved products. You’ll find them on the shelves of Beyond Beauty, the in-store-department dedicated for niche brands with a special twist. It is here you’ll often find me roaming around, watching all the latest arrivals with high approval as the brands are those you’ll usually find at Space NK or Cult Beauty. My kind of shopping – clearly!
When I heard that Alpha-H would be arriving to Dubai I think it made both me and my husband quite relieved. Gone are the days when we need to order liquids all the way from the UK! As an avid and loyal user of the brand, we practically bought the very first bottles that landed on the beauty-floor. Nerd alert!
I was a bit nervous of meeting with Michelle. First of all, I had to be conducting an interview bare faced (all pigmentations, small acne bumps and flakiness out in the open) as I never arrive for a facial wearing full makeup, and I most definitely don’t apply anything other than SPF afterwards! It is both out of insecurity and shyness that I felt uncomfortable taking the meeting without looking “presentable”.
I shouldn’t have worried so much.
Although Michelle was class and down-paired style personified, with amazing hair, trim and fit appearance, sporting a navy blue shift dress and golden jewelry she made me understand that she, if anyone on this planet, really could relate to my situation. Alpha-H grew out of her need to find corrective and preventive products to battle her own teenage acne. As parents of three small children (all daughters are currently working within the company) she and her husband started up the brand while she, at the age of 28 still was suffering cystic acne and having a battle with her own skin. She told me how she used to be wearing multiple layers of high-coverage makeup to conceal her skin and now, with 21 years of using her beloved Glycolic Acid she feel very comfortable with just a sheer base makeup. Obviously curious, I couldn’t help but peak at her complexion – and envy the result. Who really need a model to advertise the brand when you got the results simply by looking at the brand’s founder!?
Michelle Doherty at Alpha-H. Image provided by Al Tayer PR
Are you guys curious to learn a little more about the brand? Michelle and Jamee graciously took their time to answer my questions. I personally feel that they gave me a deeper insight to why we should look into Alpha-H as a skincare brand suitable for everyone, not only targeting acnegenic skin, and the fact that the brand was pioneering the fields of acids at home-use and products that worked with multi-purposes. 4-in-1 if you will. Their routines are comprehensive and all about “less is Best”. Maybe that is their secret to success – you don’t have to spend and hour in the bathroom every night in order to achieve visible and stable results. Enjoy the read!
TLF: How did Alpha H come alive, how was it to start a skincare brand and what was your mission with the brand 21 years ago?
Michelle: Having suffered with a debilitating skin condition throughout my teens and 20’s I began a quest to develop a product, which – instead of acting as a temporary salve or quick fix – would actively challenge the skin from within, forcing it to function more effectively. There was no accountability from other skincare brands and no one offered solutions for real skin issues. I identified the need and filled the gap with Alpha-H. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine Alpha-H becoming the globally recognised “go to” solutions brand that we have become. In twenty-one years we have gone from defending the tingle associated with using our glycolic-based formulations, to owning it. Consumers now realise they have to challenge the skin by using active ingredients in order to get clinical results, and that’s our specialty.
TLF: Would you say that the mission has changed as the industry and technologies are developing?
Michelle: Our mission and core message has always remained the same; we offer a solution rather than a band aid for specific skin conditions. Alpha-H is committed to achieving clinical results with minimal effort and zero downtime. Our formulations harness the latest developments in technology and are scientifically validated to deliver fast, effective results.
TLF: I’ve come to understand (and warmly respect) that it is still a Family affair – was it natural to have your children entering the company?
Michelle: The girls have grown up with the family business and I am fortunate that they all shared the interest to become actively involved, so in that sense it’s completely natural. One of my career highlights includes sharing this incredible journey with my family whom I get to work alongside.
TLF: You are the Glycolic Acid Queen! Tell us why you chose GA over Lactic Acid and your views on BHA such as Salicylic acid?
Michelle: Glycolic Acid has excellent capability to penetrate the skin due to its small molecular structure and that means its more effective for improving wrinkle depth and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin as well as moisture within the skin. Our Liquid Gold has actually been clinically proven to reduce wrinkle depth, reduce skin roughness and increase moisture after just on application.
As the brand evolves we are excited about working with ‘combination hydroxy acids’, which compliment one another. When working with a glycolic formulation an inclusion of another acid such as lactic has been shown in studies and trials to visibly benefit the skin and the cell function.
BHA’S are amazing also for it’s rapid ability to work on oil congested, pore enlarged, active hormonal challenged skin conditions. We tend to formulate with BHA’s in our Clear Skin Range where we are wanting to rapidly change oil consistency and remove impacted waste from congested pores.
TLF: Do you consider yourself to be an “anti-ageing” brand and if so, why?
Michelle: We are leaders in ‘corrective’ and ‘preventative’ skincare. Gone are the days of conventional skincare; it’s never slowed the ageing process and it won’t now. People should be looking for products that are evidence based with concentrations of active ingredients proven to cultivate the integrity and health of the skin. Our formulations correct and prevent a wide array of skin conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage, clogged pores and blemishes, acne and acne scarring, premature and sun-induced ageing, tired and lifeless skin.
TLF: What is your opinion about Retinol and how do you see it working best together with GA?
Retinol is a beneficial ingredient particularly for skins showing signs of premature ageing as it encourages surface skin cells to shift hence making way for new cell growth underneath. This function has many benefits, one being that it strengthens the skin and assists in preventing the breakdown of collagen making this one of the most potent “anti-ageing” ingredients around. Retinol works similarly to Glycolic Acid with mature skins accustomed to active ingredients benefiting from a combination of both ingredients within a tailored skin care regime.
TLF: Why did you name your cult product Liquid Gold? ( This is my own “Deserted-Island product”)
Michelle: When I heard that a friend, a fellow beauty industry professional, was considering Botox, I impulsively asked her to try the product first and the very next morning the feedback was “that stuff is amazing, it’s liquid bloody gold…!” It summed it up, that moment Liquid Gold was born.
TLF: Would you mind describing for the readers why you don’t recommend to add any product such as a serum or moisturiser on top of Liquid Gold?
Michelle: Liquid Gold works by assisting in dissolving the glue like substance between the cells, which encourages them to fall off signaling new cell growth to occur in the lower layers. Applying a serum or moisturiser over Liquid Gold changes the pH of the product and buffers this resurfacing action.
TLF: How often do you recommend using any form of AHA on 40+ skin, given it is quite stable and undamaged?
Michelle: This is dependent on skin type and skin concern, however generally speaking at least three times a week is recommended for ongoing results. As the skin’s natural cell exchange slows considerably in this age group it is beneficial to encourage cell renewal by regular gentle resurfacing.
TLF: Do you play favorites, any particular product you like us to discover?
After sixteen years I am still in love with Liquid Gold, it’s magic in a bottle and simply transforms your skin overnight. I love the fact that considering my hectic schedule it’s so quick and easy to use; it replaces the need for a toner, serum, exfoliator and moisturiser. The results are instant and lasting.
TLF: Can I use Alpha H to treat upper arm KP – Keritosis Pilaris (chicken skin) and how do I best go about it?
Michelle: The Micro Cleanse Super Scrub contains 12% Glycolic Acid and Caffeine which will help to exfoliate and unblock clogged pores, giving the skin a smoother more even appearance. Using soft circular movements, massage over affected area and leave for one minute, then rinse off with warm damp cloth. Use 1-2 times per week.
Our new Liquid Gold Lux Resurfacing Body Cloths (launching November) also contain Glycolic Acid and have been created to help improve the appearance of a range of problematic skin conditions including Keratosis Pilaris. Massage the textured side of the cloth evenly over clean dry area of skin. Follow by smoothing the skin with the soft side. Use daily for areas of concern.
TLF: What is the future for Alpha H as you see it, will the range grow and what can you see a customer demand of?
Michelle: We envision expanding the brand further globally so that our products are accessible to everyone and anyone wanting to obtain clinical results from the comfort of their own home. Our global empire will of course remain true to our core values of honesty, relevance, quality, high percentages of active ingredients and skincare solutions.
TLF: Finally – for all the readers with a bit more mature complexion – Would you please put together a quick routine for someone with 50+ and sensitive skin?
BALANCING CLEANSER – corrects pH balance, repairs acid mantle, comforts dry and irritated skin
VITAMIN B SERUM (launching November) – to hydrate and protect against daily aggressors
ABSOLUTE EYE COMPLEX – to combat dark circles, puffiness, hooded lids and fine lines
PROTECTION PLUS DAILY SPF 50+ – for skin health and protection against sun damage
LIQUID LASER CLEANSING OIL – (double cleanse) removes face and eye makeup, restores radiance and hydration
LIQUID LASER CONCENTRATE – delivers hydration, skin-firming benefits while helping to resist age-induced skin changes
LIQUID LASER SUPER ANTI-AGEING BALM – replenishes the skin’s hydro-lipid barrier, Specifically addresses the needs of skins experiencing change associated with biological ageing and hormonal fluctuation, nourishes and protects the skin
On alternate nights:
Balancing Cleanser and Liquid Gold for minimal effort and maximum results.
The facial treatment that I also got to enjoy, executed by Alpha-H Therapist Melanie need deserve its own review. I got with me a personalized kit designed to work well for my own skin concerns and needs. I really want to walk you through these products one by one. I can reveal though, my skin looked incredibly healthy and re-balanced for days after the treatment, even with pms, I felt that the products managed to keep my skin at bay! It can’t be a coincidence that men and women have loved and trusted the brand for 21 years, that it is represented in high-end clinics and daySPAs all over the world and now also available in prominent department stores. It is a professional treatment for home-use and challenge the skin’s renewal process by lowering its pH-level. I encourage you not to be intimidated by AHA’s and BHA’s as they pushes your skin to act and react – given that you use it with common sense of course – and always always apply SPF before staying out in any sunlight.
I thank Michelle & Jamee Doherty for taking their time out of a hectic traveling schedule to teach us more about Alpha-H and also revealing some of the upcoming launches!! I can’t wait to start playing with the new additions ♥