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What Is AHA and BHA Skin Care?

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After a long day at work, who doesn’t love a little R&R and skin self-care?

Wearing make-up to work every day, spending hours in the sun, and the unavoidable effects of aging can all take a toll on your skin, so dedicating time to exfoliating your face to get rid of that grime can work wonders if you’re battling acne, sunspots, uneven tone, or rosacea.

AHA and BHA skincare routines are two great options when it comes to treating those problem areas. But what are the differences between the two acids? Which is the better option for you?

Let’s take a closer look into the science between these two routines so you can learn more about their benefits and which will work best for your face.

Their Similarities and Differences

Both AHA and BHA are different types of hydroxy acids, and they both work wonders to exfoliate the skin. They’re both available in facial cleanser products such as peels, scrubs, masks, toners, cleansers, and moisturizers. They both are excellent at:

  • Shrinking large pores and wrinkles
  • Evening skin tone
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Removing dead skin cells
  • Unclogging pores to prevent acne

The differences start with their names; AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. While they both work to exfoliate, they work in different ways, which better suits them for different skin types.

AHA works on the surface, removing the top layer of dead skin, revealing a lower, softer layer. BHA works by penetrating the pores to remove gunk and exfoliate deeper. BHA works better for oily skin, while AHA can work with almost all skin types.

However, you’ll want to be careful if you have dry skin; both acids can dry out the skin further, so if you do have dry skin and want to try them, try a low concentration on a small area of your face to notice the effects. Once you determine it’s safe on your skin, you can start to use it every few days on your whole face.

Is AHA Right for Me?

Choosing which method is right for you depends on your skin type and your skincare goals.

AHA routines work best for people who want to:

  • Minimize hyperpigmentation, such as scars and sunspots
  • Achieve smaller pores
  • Have a more even skin tone

The surface-level exfoliation works best to achieve these goals in most skin types. Once the top layer is peeled away, it allows a new, softer layer to generate.

AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits. They come from many different bases to form many different types including:

  • Glycolic: This type is produced from sugar cane. This is the most commonly found version of the acid. The antimicrobial properties give it an extra edge in preventing acne.
  • Tartaric: This type is made from extracts of grapes. This version works best in minimizing visual sun damage and acne.
  • Lactic: As you can probably guess from its name, this type comes from the lactic acid found in milk. Like the others, it’s excellent in exfoliating, but also packs a punch with its anti-aging effects.
  • Citric: This name also gives away its source: the extracts of citrus fruits. This smooths out rough patches on the skin by neutralizing pH levels and as such, works really well as a toner.

Is BHA Right for Me?

BHA is a great skincare product for those with oily, acne-prone skin, especially those who are looking to remove deep grime that causes acne.

It works by penetrating the skin and entering the pores to pull out impurities to minimize the presence of acne. Because it can dry out the skin, make sure you start out by only using it a few times a week, gradually increasing frequency as needed.

If you’re worried about sun damage, this is the better hydroxy acid for you; since AHA removes the top layer of skin, you need to wear sunscreen, as you become more susceptible to UV rays and sun damage.

The different types of BHA bases include:

  • Salicylic: This is the most common form of BHA treatments. It works really well to reduce redness in addition to BHA’s other effective properties.
  • Citric: While most hydroxy acids from citrus fruits are classified as AHA, some can be BHA instead. Instead of reducing redness like citric AHAs, these dry out any excess sebum and remove dead skin cells from deep within the pores.

Different AHA Products on the Market

Whether you’re looking at your local drugstore, Etsy, or Amazon, there’s plenty of places to find excellent skin cream, toner, masks, and more that use the powerful properties of AHA and BHA.

Whenever you’re trying something for the first time, only use it on a small area of your skin to make sure there are no reactions before spreading it all over your face. Read the labels for suggested usage!

Masks

Peels

Toner

Choose What’s Best for You

Everyone’s skin has different compositions and needs, so not all products will work for everyone. There’s no one product that works for every skin type, so experiment! Do your research, try different products and routines, and see what gives you the best results.

Always test the product on a small part of your skin before applying it to the whole face to make sure you have no negative reactions.

Now go try some awesome products and get your skin feeling healthy and happy!

Sarah Margaret Henry
Latest posts by Sarah Margaret Henry (see all)
Published in Beauty, Featured Articles, Health

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