AHAs, BHAs, Chemical Exfoliants, Exfoliation, Physical Exfoliants

Exfoliation 101: AHA’s vs. BHA’s

Exfoliation is an essential part of any healthy skincare routine. It’s the process of getting rid of the top layer of dead skin cells, revealing the healthy skin underneath. There are two ways to exfoliate your face, either physically or chemically. Physical exfoliants typically use small beads or a roughly textured material to buff away dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, naturally separate the top layer of skin cells from the body. Many people prefer chemical exfoliants because they do not create irritation, whereas physical exfoliants can sometimes leave the skin feeling raw. 

Two key ingredients are used as chemical exfoliants. They are alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, and beta hydroxy acid, or BHA. While the word ‘acid’ may sound scary, they aren’t harsh and can help you achieve glowing, smooth skin. They are both natural chemicals derived from fruits that naturally peel away dead skin cells. Neither is better than the other, but you may find that one is better for your unique skin type. Here’s what you need to know about AHAs and BHAs. 

How are these exfoliants similar? 

AHAs and BHAs are similar to each other in that they are both water-soluble acids that remove dead skin cells. They can both even out your skin texture and skin tone. These chemical exfoliants can unclog your pores and reduce instances of acne, but they are also both excellent ways to reduce the signs of aging. Removing the top layer of dead skin cells reduces the appearance of wrinkles and makes your pores look smaller. Both exfoliants can also reduce inflammation and redness. Both of these exfoliants are generally safe for all skin types. But, if your skin is very dry or sensitive, you will want to use them in small concentrations to avoid irritation. 

Who should use AHA’s?

AHA works slightly better for reducing the signs of aging. It is more effective for reducing the appearance of large pores and fine lines. It also is a better option if your primary concern is evening out your skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation. AHA is a stronger exfoliant than BHA, so it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. AHAs are an excellent way to get an even skin tone. 

Who should use BHA’S?

BHAs are gentler than AHAs, but they penetrate far deeper into the skin. Because of this, they are much better for those who struggle with acne. Not only do they help you get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells on your face, but they penetrate your pores and can unclog them. If your skin has sun damage, BHAs can also help get rid of damaged skin. 

AHAs and BHAs can be used in combination if you want to address multiple skin problems. Be sure to start slow and see how your skin reacts to them before introducing them into your skincare routine regularly. AHAs and BHAs are in many skincare products that are on the market today. If you aren’t sure which ones to use, talking to a dermatologist can help you find the best options. 

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