What is the difference between AHA & BHA?
- AHAs (Alpha-hydroxy acids) are water-soluble chemical exfoliants that work to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
- BHA (Beta-hydroxy acids) are oil-soluble chemical exfoliants that can penetrate the sebum and oil and clear out the pores to a deeper level.
- The most common BHA is Salicylic acid. It is also the strongest BHA however not as irritating as the strongest AHA because it has a large molecule size so it cannot penetrate the skin as deeply as AHA. It is also anti-inflammatory in nature.
- The most common AHA in skincare products is glycolic acid.
What are AHA's?
AHAs are one of the most commonly used chemical skin exfoliants found in the skincare world that work to deeply cleanse the surface of our skin and deep into our pores and cause quicker cell turnover. As we age skin cell turnover occurs less frequently making skin appear dull. When dead skin cells build up they clog the pores and make skin appear less youthful and dull. AHAs assist this skin cell shedding cycle resulting in smoother and more vibrant-looking skin.
What are the benefits of AHA's for the skin?
- Deeply cleanse the surface of our skin
- Increase skin cell turnover occurs less frequently making skin appear dull
- Assist this skin cell shedding cycle resulting in smoother and more vibrant-looking skin
- Helps reduce hyper-pigmentation
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Maintain hydration to the top layer of the skin
What are BHA's?
BHA is a chemical exfoliate that is able to penetrate deep into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.
BHA’s are oil-soluble making them great for preventing acne, treating whiteheads, and especially blackheads. They also help with inflammation, improve skin texture, speed up skin cell renewal, and dejunk pores. Chemical exfoliation in general does a very good job at skin regeneration. The most commonly used BHAs found in skincare products is salicylic acid.
They are made from natural ingredients and are also prepared synthetically. They are found in berries, pineapple, papaya, milk, yoghurt, sweet birch trees, wintergreen leaves, and willow bark.
BHA’s are found in a whole heap of skincare products like lotions, cleansers, toners, shampoos
conditioners, dandruff treatment, as well as antiseptic, preservatives.
What are the benefits of BHA's for the skin?
- Reduce oil production: BHAs help control oily skin by slowing down its secretion.
- Deeply exfoliate the skin. As BHAs are oil-soluble they can deeply penetrate and remove excess sebum and dead skin cells from within the pores.
- Antibacterial agent: Salicylic acid has additional antibacterial actions which make it effective for treating skin conditions like acne.
- BHAs “shrink” pores: BHAs can make pores look smaller by keeping removing excess sebum and dead skin which can make the size of your pores look bigger when clogged.
- BHAs are gentler: Exfoliating acids can cause dryness and irritation if the wrong pH or concentration is used or if it is applied too frequently. BHAs are gentler due to their larger molecule sizes, anti-inflammatory benefits, and lower required concentrations. A BHA concentration of 1.5-2% is effective on the skin.
- Reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, age spots, scars, visible signs of sun damage and skin discoloration on the surface of the skin. It helps to get rid of dark spots on the face. sensitive parts of the face
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles Salicylic acids have been shown to change the depth and number of fine lines and wrinkles.
How to choose AHA or BHA
Use BHA or an AHA/BHA combination, as it will likely be able to better penetrate the issue.
Dry skin issue:
AHA is your best bet. An AHA/BHA combo might work depending on your skin type,
Exfoliate the top layer of the skin:
When your goal is to exfoliate just the top layer of your skin, you should be using an AHA.
AHAs, specifically lactic acid. As AHAs are water-loving, and therefore mildly hydrating, this will provide more moisture to sensitive skin. Plus, lactic acid specifically is a larger molecule (as far as molecules go), so it stays atop the epidermis so it is a far more gentle exfoliation. The smaller the molecule, the deeper it can penetrate—therefore making the effects stronger.
Younger looking skin:
Stick to glycolic acids (AHAs). As glycolic acids have been shown to increase collagen production, they will help your skin look firmer and more taut. They also help fade dark spots and even tone.
Oily and acne-prone skin:
BHAs can dissolve oil, they are perfect for those with excess sebum and clogged pores. Not only that, but because of their bacteria-neutralizing powers, they can target the bacteria buildup that causes breakouts.
Gentle chemical exfoliant:
AHA every day but then use a BHA when they’re breaking out, they certainly can do that.
Should you use both AHA & BHA?
- AHAs and BHAs have different benefits when used together. BHAs disrupt the connections between dead cells and AHAs cause dead cells to detach away. They are safe to work well together however it is very much dependant on your skin.
- Using both AHA and BHA can be seen as double cleansing and can provide advanced results if you’re experiencing multiple skin concerns (such as signs of sun damage, deep wrinkles, stubborn clogged pores, bumps, dull, flaky skin. If you have oily skin there can be advantages for a combination of AHA and BHA.
- If you have sensitive or irritable skin you may see a negative side effect that may cause dry, red, irritated, and flaking skin. However, it is largely dependent on your skin. If you notice any of this stop and try alternating using AHAs one day and BHAs the next day.
- Some products contain both AHA and BHA and they can work in synergy to effectively deep clean your pores.
How can you use BHA and AHA in your skincare routine?
- Apply your AHA/BHA exfoliant after your toning and cleansing steps. Follow on with the rest of your skincare routine.
- If you use AHA/BHA during the daytime, always finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- It’s all about experimentation to find what works best for you. Try and use chemical exfoliants consistently to maintain the results and start of slowly. You can start every other day. Don’t over-exfoliate, using too much or too frequently may cause irritation, burning, inflammation, redness, and peeling. It all comes down to experimentation.
- If you want to alternate between AHA and BHA. Switch between the exfoliates day by day or week by week. It is very much dependant on how your skin displays.
- A well-formulated chemical exfoliator can be a magical thing for your skin: It can slough away dead skin cells, encourage turnover, promote collagen, increase brightness, reduce acne, and so on.
- AHAs will be more beneficial for sensitive and dry skin;
- BHAs are better for acne-prone and oily skin.