AHA-BHA their benefits differences skin care

AHA vs BHA: Choosing the right and best exfoliant for your skin

AHA-BHA? Have you heard of it anytime soon? Or are you the one with questions like What sort of name it is? What are they? Why do we use them? How is it good for us?

Certainly, I was the later one some 4-5 months back. Suddenly they have become an essential part of the skincare routine. You can find them everywhere these days; I was first introduced to them by my dermatologist and then looking at the hype created around them; I decided to do my research.

But before we start with AHA-BHA in detail and understand which one is good for us, I want to tell you a little bit about skin exfoliation.

Our skin naturally exfoliates billions of dead cells every day. But, with age and many other factors like sun damage, skin disorders, this process slows down or sometimes may even stop altogether. This results in dull, flaky skin, enlarged pores etc. To take us out of this situation, we have many products available in the market for exfoliation. Exfoliants help in removing dead skin, promote blood flow, making it brighter and healthy.

AHAs-BHAs are nothing but a kind of skin exfoliation acids (chemical exfoliation). Do not panic with the word acid. These are good acids for your skin (obviously in right concentration).  Now let us begin to answer all the questions related to AHA-BHA acids.

What are AHAs and BHAs ?

AHA and BHA are hydroxy acids. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acids, and BHA stands for Beta hydroxy/salicylic acids.

AHAs are made from sugary fruits like sugar cane, grapes etc. That is why we call them fruit acids also. They are water-soluble acids and stimulate collagen(It is the main structural protein). They work by breaking the bond between your skin and dead cells hence shedding the dead cells off your skin surface.

BHAs are oil soluble. They penetrate deeper into your skin and unclog your pores by drying out the excess oils. They also help to regulate keratinization (cell shedding). Acne is associated with hyperkeratinization, i.e. the body sheds the skin cells too fast.

Types of AHA and BHA

AHA: Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Tartaric acid are some of the examples of AHA. However, the most common AHA used is glycolic acid. It is made from sugar cane and provides significant exfoliation.

BHA: Salicyclic acid is the most famous in the BHA category. Apart from treating acne, it can also help you if you have redness and inflammation.

When to use what?

Now you know what are AHA-BHA but are you still confused which one is best for you?

AHA and BHA both are helpful in exfoliation, fading pigmentation and skin brightening. However, AHA is useful if you have dry skin as it helps in improving the skin’s moisture content. They are used in case of age spots, scars, uneven skin tones or surface wrinkles.

BHA is a good choice if your skin is prone to acne and have deeper concerns like sun damage because of their penetrative qualities. They clear up blackheads, whiteheads and have inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They are most suitable for people with combination to oily skin.

How to use?

These chemical exfoliators are present in many products like moisturizer, face wash, cleanser, toner.

It has been found AHA-BHA gives the best result when used together. So I would suggest using a product that contains both AHAs and BHAs. Still, if you want to use them individually, you can alternate by using one in the morning (generally BHA since it is not photosensitive) and other during the night time or try using on alternate days. Or you can use as per your skin type like if you have an oily T-Zone then use BHA over there and AHA on rest of the face. If you still don’t know about your skin type, go ahead and read my blog know your skin type in 5 steps.

Look for products with a concentration of 5-8% Glycolic acid and 0.5 to 2% salicylic acid if you are using the products individually. However, I have tried a face cleanser with both the products in it with glycolic acid 2% and salicylic acid 1%. (My derma recommended it)

Also, very important always use a sunscreen to prevent burns, age spots as the exfoliation can make the skin sensitive.

Do consult your dermatologist if you have sensitive skin before using such products or at least do a patch test.

I will be writing another post with the complete list of best products with AHA and BHA. Meanwhile, you can explore some of the products below. Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Do let me know your feedback in the comments section or here.

Glycolic peel 25 percent Clear skin Complexion Bright & Radiant Skin peel


Salisix F Foaming Face Wash

Salisix facewash AHA-BHA

Dot & Key Hydro Peel Glow Potion 10% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliating Serum

AHA-BHA dot and key face 

Vedicline Citrus Ginger AHA Scrub

Citrus Ginger AHA Scrub

Globus Remedies Glycolic & Salicyclic Acid Face wash 

Glycolic and saliclic facewash
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