There are two main exfoliating acids: alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA). Neither type of hydroxy acid is “better” than the other. Both are effective methods to deeply exfoliate. The differences are in their uses and deciding whether to use an AHA versus a BHA is totally dependent on what you're trying to achieve!
You can find both acids in a variety of:
How are they different?
AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits. They help remove the top layer of your skin to encourage new skin cells to generate. After use, you’ll likely notice that your skin is smoother to the touch.
BHAs are oil-soluble. Unlike AHAs, BHAs can get deep below the surface into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.
Which should you choose?
AHAs are primarily used for:
- mild hyperpigmentation like age spots, melasma, and scars
- enlarged pores
- fine lines and surface wrinkles
- uneven skin tone
BHAs are primarily used for acne and sun damage. These products go deep to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells to unclog your pores. BHAs are most suitable for combination to oily skin.
How to use them?
All AHAs yield significant exfoliation, you may need to slowly work these into your everyday routine. Your selected AHA should have a maximum concentration between 10 - 15%. No matter which AHA you choose, the strong exfoliating effects make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Wear sunscreen every morning to prevent burns and age spots.
BHAs are also for daily use, but you may need to apply a few times per week at first until your skin gets accustomed to them. Although BHAs don’t make your skin as sensitive to the sun compared to AHAs, you should still wear sunscreen every single day. This will help prevent further sun damage.
How to combine AHA and BHA products?
AHAs and BHAs yield fuller skin when used together. This can be due to the increased collagen production, which can make both the dermis and epidermis visibly plumper. However, do NOT layer AHAs and BHAs on top of one another. These are both exfoliators, so using both can cause dryness and irritation.
You can alternate products by using one in the morning and the other during your the night. You could also use AHAs and BHAs on alternating days.
- Rhonda Allison Antioxidant Beta Cleanse
- Avarelle Acne Treatment Patch Set
- Rhonda Allison Essential Spot Rx
AHAs and BHAs are both exfoliants and can receive similar benefits. But, they are used to achieve different skincare goals. AHA may be your choice if you're looking for anti-aging and BHA to calm inflammation and get rid acne.