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AHA Or BHA : Which One Should You Use In Your Skincare Routine?

30 July, 2022

Author: Pardeep Kumar

Talking about bougie skin care tips, chemical exfoliation tops our charts. These fancy-sounding names like AHAs, BHAs & Niacinamide, give you a fancy looking skin too! But for someone who is just stepping into the world of chemical exfoliation, all of this might be overwhelming. So, we are here to do what we know best - simplifying skincare. So, let's decode the top two chemical exfoliants, AHAs and BHAs, in this blog!



What are AHAs?

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a type of organic acid that loosen the bond between skin cells and help in exfoliation. These include anti-aging products used on a daily basis, such as serums, toners, creams, as well as chemical peels.

Types of AHAs

Glycolic acid 

Glycolic acid is a carbon-containing alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Glycolic acid promotes exfoliation by helping to separate the connections between skin cells in the outer layers of skin without causing wear and tear on the skin.

Glycolic Acid is known to:

  • Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Minimise the appearance of pores
  • Fight acne
  • Remove dead skin cells
  • Even out the skin tone


If you want to simplify your skincare routine with a product that provides all the benefits you desire, such as minimised pores, younger-looking skin, and a clear, radiant complexion, look for glycolic acid. This miraculous ingredient is an all-in-one solution to all of your skin problems, from ageing to acne— glycolic acid handles it all. It's one ingredient you should definitely consider including in your skincare arsenal. We bet our money on a Glycolic Acid Serum or Elixir as it is one of the best formulations for this AHA.

Lactic acid 

Lactic acid occurs naturally in dairy products. It is responsible for the distinct tanginess of yoghurt and soured milk. Since time immemorial, people all over the world have used dairy products to soften and beautify their skin. The rising popularity of Lactic Acid based skin care products might have taken a cue from there. 

It is one of the most popular AHA and is used commonly in skincare products as well as professional treatments. It dissolves the bonds that hold old, dull skin cells together, allowing them to be removed from the skin's surface. Which is also known as exfoliation.

It also stimulates cell turnover and cell renewal, which are the processes by which your skin sheds old cells and replaces them with new ones.


Lactic Acid is also known to:

  • Soften the skin
  • Exfoliating dead skin
  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Fight Acne
  • Lighten the skin tone

Now let’s talk about the brother of AHAs, BHAs!

What are BHAs?

BHA is an acronym for beta-hydroxy acid, which is a type of acid derived from willow tree bark. BHAs, like AHAs, exfoliate the skin's surface, but they also work deep within the pores.

On the surface, BHAs aid in the removal of dead skin by loosening the protein bonds that connect skin cells. They are also anti-inflammatory and photoprotective.

Deep under the surface, BHAs exfoliate the pore lining, allowing oil to flow more freely and preventing dead skin and sebum buildup, which leads to clogged and open pores.

Types of BHAs

Salicylic acid


Salicylic acid is derived from willow bark. It has the ability to penetrate deep into your skin to perform its function. This property is precisely what makes it such an effective acne treatment, particularly for blackheads and whiteheads. Skin care products with Salicylic acid dissolves skin debris that clogs pores, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and also helps red, inflamed pimples and pustules go away faster once it penetrates the skin. 

Similarities between AHAs & BHAs

You may have heard that AHAs are best for exfoliating, brightening, and anti-aging, whereas BHAs are only for acne-prone skin. Fortunately, that is not the case. These are the benefits that both AHAs and BHAs share:

      Both are Exfoliating Kings

AHAs and BHAs are both effective at removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and creating a soft, smooth texture.


     The Amazing Brightening Duo 


Both AHAs and BHAs have been shown to thin the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin composed of dead skin cells. This allows your skin to reflect more light and appear brighter.


      Fight Pigmentation Together


AHAs and BHAs work together to fade dark spots and even out skin tone because they both encourage the shedding of old, discoloured dead skin cells.


        Both are Anti-Aging Warriors


AHAs and BHAs have been shown to increase collagen density in the dermis at higher concentrations. That is, they can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles while also improving skin firmness over time.


         Hydration Homies


Both AHAs and BHAs are humectants, or ingredients that help your skin attract and retain moisture. 


         
      Together in the battle against Acne


Both AHAs and BHAs help with acne by exfoliating dead skin, which can lead to clogged pores.

Differences between AHAs & BHAs


       Penetrating Power


As AHAs are water-soluble, they exfoliate only the skin's surface. However, because BHAs are oil-soluble, they can pass through sebum and penetrate deep into the pores.


       Effect on Oil


While AHAs have no effect on sebum, BHAs can help control oily skin by slowing its secretion.

      Against Acne


Although both acids can help with mild acne by removing dead skin cells, BHAs also work beneath the skin's surface. BHAs not only clear existing breakouts but also help to prevent future ones by deep-cleaning the pores, making them the most effective topical acne treatment. 



        For Pores


We cannot change the size of our pores, but we sure can make them look a certain way.. However, they can appear larger when they're clogged. While AHAs have no effect on pores, BHAs can make them appear smaller by keeping them clean.

After all this discussion about AHAs and BHAs, we should also note that exfoliation is not the only thing your skin requires. Your skincare routine should also have nourishing face care products along with products that focus on cleansing or exfoliating. 

Moreover, exfoliation like anything else in excess, is not good for the skin. This causes irritation, inflammation, dryness, redness, breakouts, excessive peeling of the skin, and other symptoms that require treatment from a dermatologist. The bottom line is to understand your skin; you can easily achieve a glow even with minimal skincare.

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Pardeep Kumar


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