AHA vs. BHA: What's The Difference?

AHA vs. BHA: What's The Difference?


Have you ladies heard of these holy grail ingredients? 💯 Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) are typically used as a method of chemical exfoliation. These acids can work wonders on your skin once you found one that fits your skin well. ✨ In fact, they can be the best exfoliation method compared to using physical exfoliants like scrubs or mechanical exfoliants like facial brushes as both can be damaging to the skin for their risk of causing microtears. Guess what happens next once your skin gets all these tiny but irritating tears? It will be even more vulnerable to environmental damage, pollution and sun damage. 😖


But what are the differences between these two? If you're planning to start a chemical exfoliation routine, which one will best suit your skin? 🤔


AHA can be found in the forms of glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid and malic acid. The most common AHA you will likely come across in skincare are glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHA works to break the bonds between dead skin cells on the skin surface. These guys are water-soluble so they can suit normal to dry skin as well as oily and combination skin as they are non-drying. 💯 They help to:

  • improve skin's moisture content
  • diminish the appearance of pores and other blemishes
  • rejuvenate dull, tired and aging skin
  • reduce hyperpigmentations
  • minimize signs of sun-damaged skin

The only downside of AHA, particularly glycolic acid, is that they can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. So never forget to apply your daily sunscreen if you are using AHA exfoliation. Glycolic acid is great at fading your dark spots caused by excess sun exposure, but it can also worsen them if you don't provide the skin with the protection it needs. 🙅‍♀️


On the other hand, salicylic acid is the common BHA used for skincare. BHA is an oil soluble acid so it does not only act on the skin surface to remove dead skin cell build-up but it also works deep inside pores to remove oils and clogged impurities. ✨ That's why this acid can work wonderfully on oily and acne-prone skin, but it can be quite drying for dry skin. BHA helps to:

  • rejuvenate skin complexion
  • prevent the formation of acne cysts
  • deal with blackheads and whiteheads
  • remove excess sebum and shine on skin
  • diminish the look of fine lines and pigmentation
  • calm the inflammation caused by acne


Now that you have learned which acid suits your skin better, here are some things that must be taken into consideration before you decide to get a chemical exfoliant. 👇

  • AHA and BHA in the market come in different percentages. Glycolic acid typically has a concentration of less than 10% while salicylic acid is most effective at the concentration of 1% to 2%.
  • It must be noted that any kinds of exfoliation must not exceed one to three times a week. Over-exfoliating will only mess with the skin protective barrier.
  • If you're a beginner, always start with a lower percentage and exfoliate only once a week at most until your skin develops a level of tolerance with the acids.
  • AHA and BHA may cause purging as they are active ingredients so you may experience acne for a few weeks before you can actually see the results.
  • If your skin experience inflammation, itchiness, stinging or redness, your skin is probably telling you that the product is too harsh for your skin. So stop immediately from using.
  • Always follow with moisture-repleneshing products after exfoliating.

The key is to always listen to your skin. 🔑


Happy exfoliating! 💋