Things to Know Before Adding AHAs & BHAs to Your Skincare Routine

Things to Know Before Adding AHAs & BHAs to Your Skincare Routine

Detail information before adding AHAs & BHAs to your skincare routine!

BHAs and AHAs can be used to treat a range of skin issues because they are the two main classes of hydroxy acids utilized in skincare. These components support skin cell turnover, which can help reveal skin that is smoother and more even in tone. Exfoliating acids have been utilized for years, even in ancient Egypt when Cleopatra bathed in sour milk to enhance the appearance and smoothness of her skin. 1 Chemical exfoliants are now present in a variety of natural skin care products, including toners, body lotions, serums, and cleansers for the face.


  • Chemical exfoliants like beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) aid in the delicate removal of dead skin cells.
  • Physical exfoliation, in which dead skin cells are manually removed using physical devices (such as scrubs), is distinct from chemical exfoliation.
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids, which include lactic acid and glycolic acid, are moderate exfoliants that can help to soften and smooth the skin and lessen the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Salicylic acid and other beta-hydroxy acids provide gentle exfoliating advantages that can be especially beneficial for skin types that are prone to acne, have rough and bumpy texture, or have skin diseases like psoriasis.

What Are AHAs?

Alpha-hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are a class of exfoliating acids. They are present naturally in fruit sources, lactic acid in milk, and glycolic acid in sugarcane (citric acid). These acids are often created in a laboratory today when they are employed in cosmetic compositions.

Over the past ten years, AHAs have gained popularity in skincare products meant to reduce aging skin symptoms such as fine lines, wrinkles, photoaging, and discoloration. AHAs are frequently regarded as secure and efficient exfoliating choices. They function by gently removing dead skin cells to enhance the overall look and texture of skin.

AHAs Types

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) come in a variety of forms, but lactic acid and glycolic acid are the two ingredients popular skincare products employ the most. These two AHAs are frequently combined for their numerous benefits. Well known skin serums have a combination of glycolic and lactic acids to aid in boosting cellular turnover on the skin’s surface for noticeably smoother, more luminous skin. Citric acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are additional types of AHAs.

Lactic Acid

A typical AHA used in exfoliating skincare products, lactic acid encourages the exfoliation of dead skin cells. When used as a consistent skincare routine, this improves the texture, smoothness, and softness of the skin. In addition to being a component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), lactic acid also has hydrating properties. Lactic acid can be found in many brands’ products like the Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream, which moisturizes the skin to clean it up and make it more comfortable.

Glycolic Acid

Another one of the AHAs that is most frequently used in skincare is glycolic acid. Of all the alpha-hydroxy acids, this exfoliating acid has the smallest molecular weight, which enables it to penetrate the skin quickly and effectively. In strong Acne Control Gels, a 2% salicylic acid acne treatment containing both AHAs and BHAs, you can find glycolic acid. This product is designed to help prevent new breakouts, enhance skin texture, and decrease the look of pores. Additionally, this gel contains niacinamide to soothe the face and three crucial ceramides to restore the skin’s barrier of defense.

What Are BHAs?

Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are a different class of exfoliating acids. There are numerous skin diseases and issues that beta-hydroxy acids can help with, including rough, bumpy skin, acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and more. Similar to AHAs, BHAs can also be found naturally in a variety of plant-based sources, but they are typically made in a laboratory for use in cosmetic goods.

BHAs Types

Salicylic acid is by far the most common BHA ingredient in skincare products, hence when the term “beta-hydroxy acid” is used, it refers to this substance. This substance is frequently listed as beta hydroxybutanoic acid, trethocanic acid, tropic acid, or willow extract in ingredient lists. Let’s look into how salicylic acid products from many well established skincare brands can best fit into your skincare routine.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that is naturally present in the bark of some plants, including white willow and wintergreen leaves, and is often utilized for its gentle but effective exfoliating effects. It is frequently present in skincare compositions intended to treat rough or bumpy skin, skin diseases including psoriasis, and acne-prone skin due to its capacity to encourage natural shedding and dissolve the “glue” that binds skin cells together. Salicylic acid can also aid in pore cleaning, making it a particularly useful BHA for actively assisting in the prevention of acne outbreaks.

AHAs vs BHAs

Although there are certain commonalities among all hydroxy acids, there are also a few significant variances to be aware of. While both AHAs and BHAs exfoliate the skin, AHAs are referred to as “water-soluble,” whilst BHAs are referred to as “oil-soluble.” This means that whereas BHAs (like salicylic acid) function on the skin’s surface and inside the pores, AHAs only affect the skin’s outer layer. Salicylic acid is therefore thought to be effective in treating blocked pores and uneven skin tone, whilst AHAs (like glycolic acid) tend to concentrate their main effects on reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.

Finally, because they have a higher molecular weight than AHAs, BHAs are typically regarded as the milder of the two alternatives. As a result, some skin types may be more susceptible to irritation when using AHAs like glycolic acid. Correct application of AHAs and BHAs, as instructed on the label or by a dermatologist, can help lessen the likelihood of any potential irritation.

Are AHAs & BHAs Good for You?

Your skin type, objectives, and primary concerns will all influence the response to this question. Fortunately, you can benefit from both the many advantages of AHAs and BHAs simultaneously by using the correct kinds of mild, moisturizing products. Before starting a programme using chemical exfoliants, we advise speaking with a dermatologist if you have any questions in order to receive the best guidance and an accurate skin examination.

It’s crucial to continuously apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning, rain or shine, and to reapply at least every two hours when spending extended periods of time outdoors when using AHAs or BHAs as part of your daily skincare routine. This is due to the possibility that the exfoliating actions of these substances will enhance photosensitivity, increasing your risk of sun damage in the absence of adequate sun protection.

Difference Between AHAs/BHAs & Physical Exfoliants?

Let’s compare AHAs and BHAs to other exfoliation techniques now that you have a better understanding of chemical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation (which includes AHAs and BHAs) and physical exfoliation are the two main types of exfoliation used in skincare. Physical exfoliation employs physical items (like scrubs, brushes, or gloves) to manually remove dead skin cells as opposed to chemical exfoliants, which use active substances (such acids or enzymes) to gently dissolve dead skin cells.

Innovative skincare products like the popular SA Cleanser Bar for Rough & Bumpy Skin, which offers chemical exfoliation with salicylic acid and physical exfoliation with spherical jojoba, combine these two exfoliation techniques.

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