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AHA vs. BHA: Decoding the best acid for your face

Beauty does not come cheap – we all know that – but you could be washing away hundreds of dollars on a face wash, and even more on serums and moisturisers, without giving your skin the ideal condition to thrive in.

To truly reap the benefits of your skincare routine, adding products with AHAs and BHAs to your regime could do wonders to the skin and give it to a more youthful, supple glow. Haven’t heard of these magical ingredients?

Here’s what you need to know. 

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty indie lee oraganic fruity skincare

What are AHAs and BHAs
AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acid) are hydroxy acids, also referred to as chemical peels. They are used to exfoliate dead skin cells, clear the pores of bacteria, reduce inflammation, acne scars, fine lines and ageing spots caused by sun damage. Basically, improving the overall texture and complexion in the long run. They typically come in the form of liquid masks, but can also be found in a variety of skincare products such as moisturisers, scrubs, serums and toners.

Although both groups of acids yield similar benefits, they each have distinct differences in terms of purpose and results. If you’re looking to reap more anti-ageing and hydrating benefits from your products, try AHAs, while BHAs will help you tackle acne issues.  

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty indie lee skincare

Photo courtesy of Indie Lee

Try: Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum contains citric and hyaluronic acid to support the skin’s natural hydration and brighten the skin tone. Its ingredients are free of alcohol, fragrance, oil, paraben and sulphate, making its formula suitable for dry, sensitive, oily and combination skin, while addressing mild pigmentation and dry skin problems. Priced at HK$1,060


Are there any side effects
Mild redness and tingles are common side effects of both AHA and BHA products. They have highly potent and active ingredients and skin reaction to them is common.

Those new to using these hydroxy acid peels can start with a lower level of eight to 10% for AHA and 1% BHA, before gradually moving on to higher concentration levels. Day creams and serums with AHAs should also be followed with a layer of protective sun screen because photosensitivity can leave the skin vulnerable and irritate the skin. 

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty dewtopia skincare

Photo courtesy: Ole Henriksen

Try: Ole Henriksen Dewtopia™ 20% Acid Night Treatment, a cruelty-free vegan serum formulated with 20% acid blend of 10% AHAs and 10% PHAs, sealing your evening routine with a firming gel that reveals a smoother and brighter complexion overnight. Priced at HK$480

Also Read: Damaging skincare ingredients you need to be wary of!

How to use AHA
AHAs are primarily glycolic, lactic and citric acids, though it could also include tartaric, malic and mandelic acids. They are all water-soluble exfoliating ingredients from sugary fruits that help reduce ageing spots, melasma, acne scars and reduce fine lines on the epidermis. AHA chemical peels can go up to 30% in concentration level, but those still new to AHAs or have dry and sensitive skin can start with formulations of 10% or lower. This will give your skin a gentler introduction to AHAs before gradually working your way up to higher concentration levels over time. 

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty good genes skincare

Photo courtesy: Good Genes

Try: Sunday Riley Good Genese All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment contains lactic acid and balancing botanicals that gently exfoliate the skin and reduce the visibility of fine lines and dark spots — revealing a clearer and smoother complxion. HK$960


What is BHA
BHAs are oil-soluble organic compound exfoliators, typically salicylic acid, that are best used to relieve clogged pores, blemishes and acne scars, as well as remove black heads and white heads. Unlike AHAs, they are able to penetrate underneath the skin as well as on the surface, effectively breaking down and clearing dead skin cells and bacteria from within the pores and preventing breakouts. The highest level of BHA concentration is a mere 2%, though 1% BHA will still offer an effective cleanse on sensitive skin whilst providing a calmer formula to ease redness and inflammation. 

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty tarte skincare

Photo courtesy: Tarte

Try: Tarte Knockout Texture & Pore Refining Pads, a set of 2-sided skin-renewing peel pads containing a blend of BHAs, amino acids, vitamin B5 and centella asiatica that help penetrate below the epidermis, promote hydration and collagen production, and instantly reduce the visibility of large pores and fine lines, resulting in extra soft and smooth complextion. The cotton pads are also biodegradable. $310

Also Read: Skincare Secrets: Five beauty truths that the industry won’t tell you


Can you combine AHA and BHA?
Using AHAs and BHAs can yield visible benefits for the epidermis, both inside and out. When used in combination, it can clear the surface of the skin and underneath it, supporting hydration and allowing for the rest of your skincare products to work more effectively.

As for sensitive skin, these potent acids can leave the surface of the skin temporarily dryer,  and more vulnerable and sensitive due to its active exfoliating ingredients. In that case, you can split the two group of acids into day and night routines, rather than layering the two products on top of one another. 

AHA and BHA The difference, benefits and when to use it gafencu beauty allies of skin skincare

Photo courtesy: Allies of Skin

Try: Allies of Skin Bright Future Sleeping Facial contains 8% AHAs and BHAs, 5% enzymes, seven brightening and antioxidants, like salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, a ton of probiotics – all this hydrates the dermis as it exfoliates it. It’s almost like an effortless overnight facial that results in brighter, smoother and clearer skin. Formulated to suit hypo-allergenic and sensitive skin, it is free of fragrance, parabens and sulphates. Priced at HK$1,035

2021-08-05T17:55:52+00:00 August 05, 2021|Beauty|