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Michelle Doherty Reveals the Story Behind Cult Beauty Brand Alpha-H


Founder of Alpha-H Michelle Doherty. Courtesy of Alpha-H.

Alpha-H creates precious formulations. So precious, in fact, its cult beauty classic is called Liquid Gold. A revolutionary cosmeceutical formulation, owner and director Michelle Doherty created the brand based on her own need for products that really worked. Leading the way in skin exfoliation, resurfacing and renewal, the Australian-operated brand is bigger than ever before. Here, Doherty shares her wisdom on what ingredients women should be looking to for a picture-perfect complexion.

How did your story begin?

From the age of 14 through to 28 I suffered from cystic acne, from the top of my cheek right down to my lower neck. I lived on medication to try to find some balance with my skin. At this time, I had a very brief introduction to glycolic acid, that would change my skin. Having such low self-esteem, I found myself constantly in chemists looking for something that would change my skin and I became very aggressive with it. I become quite aggressive in the way I treated my skin, which with insight probably escalated the problem.

It was the introduction of a cleanser and a moisturizer that contained glycolic acids that changed the game for me. I had three little girls under three at the time. I was working in New Zealand and quite possibly had the worst skin of any cosmetic salesperson. In a short period of time, I found myself working with a cosmetic formulator and the company that bought glycolic into the country. We started on a mission to get this product out into the market.

Can you tell us about one of your key ingredients, glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a natural derivative from sugar cane. Its function is to gently exfoliate the skin and renew the surface without friction. This is due to an excessive component that dissolves the top layer instead of removing it, which happens with abrasive scrubs. The second function is that it works as a transport vehicle to take all the other good active ingredients in the formulation into the lower layers of the skin. Glycolic acid is a very small molecular structure, which means it penetrates very quickly as opposed to lactic acid or salicylic acid, which tend to sit on the surface of the skin.

It’s the immediate change that glycolic can make to the look of the skin that captures the customer. Often you use a skincare product and they tell you in the next 21 days you will start to see a change. That is so old-school to me. With technology and science, there’s no reason why we can’t deliver immediate results. Sometimes it can take longer to change the function of the skin in the lower layers, but immediately we can improve the look, feel, texture and tone of the skin.


The iconic Liquid Gold 24 hour moisture repair cream from Alpha-H. Courtesy of Alpha-H.

What is your process when creating a new product?

I think about the ingredients very carefully. I think of the concentrations I’m going to put into the formulation. I think about the sustainability of the ingredients, and I want to think about sourcing from local producers. It’s really important to support them because we are not a multinational company, we don’t take investment. We are very considerate when we look at a new creation. We don’t follow a trend or a fad. It’s really important that we don’t play in that space.

Last year we were the first company in Australia to bring a blue light anti-aging mist to the market. It’s about that education. People don’t appreciate how many hours a day we spend in front of our computer screens or our smartphones. We’re exposed to blue light radiation which goes deeper than UVA and UVB. It’s damaging and aging for the skin. We’ve now found an ingredient that actually helps dilute some of the blue light radiation and neutralize the damage that it can do on the skin. We’re always looking for new advancements.

What are your top skincare picks at the moment?

I’m loving anti-pollution products. I like these ingredients’ ability to provide an invisible shield to the skin, but you don’t feel or see them. You can only go back to clinical trials that show they stop particles from entering the skin and that’s really reassuring. I love the fact that we are using this beautiful extract from the mulberry plant to neutralize blue light radiation. I’m also still sold on topical application of vitamins.

What skincare routine would you advise for women in the Middle East?

I’m a huge fan of minimal skincare. I’m not a big believer that we have to layer the skin with six or seven steps every morning. I believe that the skin should be able to function the way it was designed to function. In the morning I advise a fresh cleanse; just one to remove what the body has eliminated overnight through our pores. Next, a serum based on what that day is going to be like. It’s like going to your wardrobe and picking a dress for the day ahead. We encourage our customers to think about how should they be looking after their skin that day. SPF is non-negotiable. At Alpha-H we have created an SPF 50 that also works as your moisturizer and makeup primer. In the evening, Liquid Gold Night is just two steps. Cleanse then apply it. This one product just does all four functions of exfoliation, toner, serum and night cream.

Alpha-H is available at Destination Discover in Bloomingdales Dubai Beauty Department.

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