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AHAs versus BHAs: Which one should you be using for your skin?

By LLM Reporters on 23rd August 2018

Deciding between an AHA or a BHA is not as easy as it may seem and knowing the difference between the two is imperative for understanding which acids are right for your skins needs. Here, the skincare experts at ZO Skin Health break down the key differences between the two and which one you should be using.

What are AHAs and BHAs?

AHAs and BHAs are types of hydroxy acids which can be found in a variety of:
– Cleansers
– Moisturisers
– Toners
– Scrubs
– Peels
– Masks

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The purpose of both AHAs and BHAs is to exfoliate the skin and effectively remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to reveal a brighter complexion

The purpose of both AHAs and BHAs is to exfoliate the skin and effectively remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to reveal a brighter complexion. Both hydroxy acids are highly effective methods of deep exfoliation and are both just as good as each other.

How are they similar?

Both AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliators, making them recommended alternatives to traditional scrubs which can irritate the skin. They essentially smooth the skin to improve the look of dull, uneven skin tone but both have their own unique qualities making them better for certain skin types.

How are they different?

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid.

AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits which help remove the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin so that new evenly pigmented skin cells can emerge. AHAs essentially work to smooth the skin and to improve overall pigmentation. Whereas, BHAs are oil-soluble and dive deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.

What skin types should they be used on?

Both AHAs and AHAs can be used on all skin types however they each target different skin problems and so knowing which to use for your skin type is super important.

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Both AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliators, making them recommended alternatives to traditional scrubs which can irritate the skin

For Dry Skin – Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Because AHAs are water soluble this means they will only be effective on the top layer of the skin, which makes them perfect for someone who has dry and sensitive skin as they are a gentle exfoliant so will not cause any damage or irritation. AHAs also have humectant properties which prevent moisture loss in the skin, keeping your skin looking healthy and plump whilst also targeting spots, skin discoloration and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The most common skincare items which use AHAs in their ingredients are glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid

For Acne-Prone Skin – Beta Hydroxy Acids

Unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil soluble, meaning that they can penetrate through any oil clogged pores, and are working deeper into the skins layers. BHAs are recommended to oily and acne prone skin types as they offer a deeper exfoliation as well as having anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The most commonly used BHA is Salicylic acid which targets acne, pores, and discoloration.