Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids, better known as AHA’s and BHA’s, are all the rage in skincare currently. But what exactly are they? And what do they do? Continue reading to discover the beginner’s guide to AHA’s and BHA’s, and to transform your skincare routine for the better!
What Are AHA’s?
Alpha hydroxy acids, more commonly known as AHA’s, are essential for maintaining youthful-looking skin. Next to using sunscreen on a daily basis, a well-formulated AHA-based treatment is critical to maintaining a healthy, hydrated and more even-toned complexion. AHAs are naturally occurring substances found in various fruits, sugar cane and sour milk.
One of the main benefits associated with AHA’s is that they have the ability to exfoliate the skin to repair dry, ageing and sun-damaged skin. By removing the excess build-up on the surface of the skin, AHA’s allow newer, softer, healthier-looking skin to emerge. An additional benefit to clearing excess build-up is that moisturisers and treatments can penetrate the skin better.
AHA’s also help with age spots and skin discoloration, and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Using AHA’s does, however, can make your skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun – a concern with any kind of exfoliating treatment. So, it’s important to remember to always use a moisturiser containing SPF 15 or higher.
The Benefits Of AHA’s
Glycolic acid, the AHA found in sugar cane, exfoliates the skin, reduces fine lines, hyperpigmentation, dark spots and an uneven skin tone. This particular acid works great on all skin types. It’s particularly great for those who have fine lines and wrinkles. A great product featuring glycolic acid is the Pixi Glow Tonic.
Citric acid is also an example of an AHA. It speeds up cell renewal and balances the skin’s pH. Citric acid can help with hyperpigmented skin with dark spots.
Additionally, lactic acid is an AHA. It helps to exfoliate the skin and spped up cell turnover. Lactic acid works great on all skin types, particularly those who have acne scarring, and it is naturally occuring.
What Are BHA’s?
Next up in this beginner’s guide are one of the most popular acids – BHA’s!
Beta hydroxy acids, more commonly referred to as BHA’s, are also very popular, and worth a mention in this beginner’s guide to acids.
The main difference between AHAs and BHAs is oil solubility. AHA’s are water soluble only, while BHA’s are oil soluble. This means BHA’s can get down into the pores to cut through the oil that’s clogging them. They also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so BHA’s are perfect for treating acne-prone skin, blackheads and whiteheads.
The Benefits Of BHA’s
The most common BHA in skincare products is salicylic acid, which occurs naturally in willow bark and sweet birch. Like AHA’s, BHA’s have the ability to make your skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun, so it’s important to remember to always use a moisturiser containing SPF 15 (or higher) when you treat your skin with BHA’s.
Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, clears pores, treats breakouts, and it can help to build elastin and collagen. Salicylic acid works the best on acne-prone, blemished, oily and combination skin.
One of the biggest misconceptions with AHA’s and BHA’s is that you cannot use them together. You CAN use them together, but whether you should do that depends on your unique skin concerns.