It is time we talked about a new generation of acid exfoliators which are taking beauty market by storm and have hit the mainstream. The acids are the best route to a smooth skin surface and a healthy glow. 

We’re often asked which one is better, an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliant. So here is more information on this. 

AHA and BHA Acids Skinsider

What is a liquid exfoliant?

Also known as exfoliating toners, a liquid exfoliant uses the active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs to sweep away dead skin cells, leaving skin smoother and more radiant.

What is a AHA and BHA?

A word ‘acid’ might sound a little bit scary but there is no need to worry.

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, e.g. glycolic, mandelic and lactic acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) act to remove dull, dead skin cell from the surface of the skin. Result? Gentle and even exfoliation. If you use AHA or BHA correctly, you won’t actually see your skin exfoliating but you’ll see the smoother, younger-looking skin.

To work effectively, AHA and BHA exfoliants must be formulated within a narrow pH range, between 3 and 4. 

How AHAs and BHA are similar?

AHAs and BHA have shared benefits. They both reduce the visibility of lines and wrinkles. They also improve the look of dull, uneven skin tone. The skin looks and feels firmer and hydrated.

But AHA and BHA also have unique properties making them preferable for certain skin types and concerns

Let’s go deeper- A for AHA 

AHAs – alpha hydroxy acids – work on the surface of the skin so dead skin cells can be easily removed, making way for a softer and smoother surface. They’re water-soluble, so they don’t penetrate deep below the surface of the skin. Still they can reduce the appearance of fine lines, acne scars and dark spots. Basically, a dream for pretty much all skin types. The most famous AHA are glycolic acid, citric, mandelic and lactic acids.

Let’s go deeper- B for BHA 

Beta-hydroxy acids (or BHAs) are oil soluble. Because they are oil-soluble they can penetrate beneath the skin’s surface, cleaning out excess sebum from the pores and reducing oiliness. If you have blemish-prone skin you want to start using BHA. Salicylic acid is probably the best-known BHA.

AHA and BHA Acids Skinsider

Sensitive skin and acids

Sensitive skin types should use enzymatic exfoliators, mandelic and lactic acid and BHAs.

Do a patch test: We recommend testing out acid-based products on the neck first. This is recommended for any ski type.

Want to Combine AHA and BHA Products?

Some people will find it’s too much for their skin, to use an AHA and BHA exfoliant at the same time. What we recommend is to explore using one acid in the evening after cleansing and toning. Then use the other acid on other day. We suggest you use acids only few times a week (2-3 times a week).

If you have combination skin, where the T-zone is oily and the cheeks are dry or normal, experiment by applying a BHA exfoliant to the oily areas and an AHA exfoliant to the dry areas.

In addition, You do not have to wait for your toner to dry before applying your acid. After you apply acid you do not have wait for it to dry before applying the other products in your routine.

AHA and BHA acids can be used on your neck and chest as well and it will provide you with skin renewing and anti-ageing properties.

How often should you use AHA or BHA acids?

Start with just one application a week. This will give you time to test the acid and allow your skin to get used to the acid. Use your liquid exfoliator after cleansing in the evening. We always recommend doing a patch test on your neck before the first application. Please remember to use SPF during the day as AHA and BHA acids can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Get inspired with some of our products

Korean skincare COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
Korean skincare COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
Korean skincare COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Korean skincare COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
By Wishtrend - Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
By Wishtrend – Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water (AHA acid)

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