First things first; let’s break down these acronyms. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid and BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. The most common AHAs you’ve probably heard of already, are Glycolic & Lactic acids and the most common BHA is Salicylic acid. You can find the ingredients in almost any form of skin care; from cleansers to moisturisers, toners, peels and masks.
Don’t let the term ‘acid’ scare you off! We all have naturally occurring acids on our skin and there are so many benefits to incorporating hydroxy acids into your skincare routine. AHAs and BHAs both exfoliate the skin to improve overall skin texture and help to repair it from sun-damage.
Now, what makes them different? AHAs are water soluble so will only work on the skins surface (think, sloughing dead skin cells) while BHAs are oil soluble so will work on the skins surface as well as within the pore (great for pore cleaning, inflammation reduction and spot prevention). Combined, they work to improve the appearance of skin from the inside, out.
Which one should I use?
Both AHA’s and BHAs are extremely effective methods of exfoliation so which you use, depends on your skincare goals. If you’re looking to hydrate your skin while tackling uneven skin tone, bumpy rough texture or fine lines and wrinkles, you should go for an AHA. If it’s firming up your skin while reducing redness, irritation, acne or excess sebum that you’re after, try a BHA.
Can I use them both?
We’re so glad you asked! Yes, you can use both AHAs and BHAs. You can do this by alternating application or by selecting a formula that gently blends both ingredients. You just want to avoid layering the products on top of one another. Instead, try using them on alternate days or using one in the morning and the other at night.
If you have particularly dry or sensitive skin, you can build your tolerance by applying the product once a week to begin with and building up from there. This will help avoid irritation. You can also use lower concentrated products when starting out. Applying on to freshly cleansed skin is recommended.