What Are AHAs and BHAs In Skincare?

You may find that you’re often stumbling upon the terms AHA and BHA relatively frequently when searching for skincare products and, if you anything like me, you’re probably blissfully unaware of what the-ah an AHA or BHA actually is. Turns out both live in the same skincare family of exfoliation and are used to step up your skincare routine by bringing radiance to your complexion. Sounds nothing short of a miracle, right? Let’s plunge deeper into what AHAs and BHAs are used for in skincare and discover which (if any) come out victorious in the fight to claim best exfoliating ingredient.

What are AHAs and BHAs in skincare?

AHA is the shortened term for alpha-hydroxy acid, with AHA being the name that is often seen on your skincare products. AHAs are taken from sugar cane and other natural plant sources, mainly fruit to create formulas that exfoliate the skin.

Another helpful skincare exfoliant is BHAs or beta-hydroxy acid, it’s benefits are very similar to that of AHAs but its ingredients are taken from different sources. The most notable BHA is salicylic acid which is best known for busting blemishes. BHAs aren’t derived from plant sources like AHAs and are instead oil-soluble which makes them much more beneficial to those with an oily skin type.

Both skincare formulas are most commonly used for their exfoliating abilities but, contrary to popular opinion, exfoliators don’t need to present a sand like consistency to exfoliate away all the debris and old makeup that gets trapping in your pores.

Benefits of AHAs

As discussed, AHAs main benefit is to remove dry, dead dermal layer that sits on the surface of your skin in order to make way for fresh cells to generate. The most notable and common AHA’s that have been proven to cause less irritation than other forms are glycolic and lactic acid. These are the two top ingredients to keep an eye out for when shopping for new products to pop into your skincare routine.

Sun-damaged skin can also highly benefit from the addition of AHAs. Frequent use of AHA ingredients has been proven to diminish the appearance of wrinkles by promoting the production of collagen that plumps the skin. However, it’s very important to note that AHAs don’t provide any any degree of UV protection, so using some form of SPF product daily is still a crucial step in your skincare routine.

If your skin is looking tired and in need of a new lease of life, AHAs can step in to save the day. Once those old skin cells have been obliterated it’s time to make way for a more radiant appearance with minimized discolouration and extra hydration – hooray!

The Inkey List Alpha Hydroxy Acid Serum

REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

Benefits of BHAs

BHAs could be described as the sister of AHAs. Just like AHAs, BHAs are used primarily for exfoliation and ridding the epidermis of flaky, dead skin cells that can make our complexion look tired and in need of some serious TLC. But the benefits of BHAs far exceed this one advantage.

The main form of BHA is salicylic acid, which is best known for its ability to deep-clean pores and banish away blemishes. Other types include beta hydroxy butanoic acids and tropic acids although these are much less present in the most common skincare formulas.

Salicylic acid is used as an ingredient to treat acne, it works by reducing swelling and helping to unclog pores which subsequently leads to a diminished appearance, working miracles for those who struggle with outbreaks.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

The difference between AHAs and BHAs?

Although both are exfoliating acids and seemingly do a very similar job in your skincare routine, they do both have some notable differences as discussed above.  

Now comes the question, should you be opting for AHAs or BHAs in your skincare routine?

For those with dry skin concerns, AHAs come up trumps due to their ability to deeply exfoliate the skin with the added bonus of its additional hydrating benefits. AHAs tend to be more aggressive by nature but work wonders for those with sun-damaged skin in creating a more even, radiant complexion. BHAs are often less irritating on the skin, therefore working best for those who need exfoliation but are more sensitive to skincare products.

However, BHAs take the crown when it comes to getting rid of those pesky zits that never want to disappear. If you’re skin is on the oily side and you struggle with outbreaks, then popping BHAs into your skin routine can make a world of difference.

In conclusion, there isn’t one clear winner. Neither is seemingly better than the other, with both capabilities heavily dependent on your skins needs. Take a moment to assess what you’re looking for in your skincare routine before making the decision. If you can’t decide you will often find products with both AHA and BHA ingredients, here you get the best of both worlds.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA+AHA Salicylic Serum

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