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Difference between AHAs and BHAs

lets talk chemical exfoliants and why they are soo important in helping us achieve  heathy glowing skin but first lets identify  the types of chemical exfoliants there are.

there are three main categories of chemical exfoliants  AHA's BHA's and PHA's

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are sugar derivative acids. The main sources of these sugars are grapes, sugar cane, almonds, and milk. 

AHA consists of different types of acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, and tartaric acid. 

All of these acid types come from different sources and have different overall functions as:

  • Lactic acid – a product of dairy products as yogurt or sour milk
  • Citric acids – a derivative of citrus fruits
  • Malic acids – derivatives of blueberries and apples
  • Mandelic acids – come from the almonds
  • Tartaric acids – derivatives of tamarinds and grapes
  • Glycolic acid 

The working mechanism of AHAs is the break up of skin cells holding glue. When this glue is broken, dead skin cells tend to detach from the healthier skin cells and exfoliation occurs. In other words, skin peeling is the AHA’s primary job. These acids can also stimulate the growth of new cells leading to cell generation, leading to brighter and firmer skin texture.

According to the experts, AHAs can help with minimizing discoloration and aging spots due to damage from UV rays. According to skin experts, a combination of AHAs as lactic acid or glycolic acid along with sunscreen can reduce fine lines around the eyes. 

Other than these functions, AHAs are potent antioxidants because of their fruit source. It can control dirt accumulation and oil production as well. 

AHAs are well-suited for every skin type.


BHAs stand for Beta Hydroxy Acids, which is another category of acids. These acids include salicylic acid. The primary function of BHAs is exfoliation as well. BHAs are more suitable for acne-prone skin because they can penetrate deep inside the pores. 

BHA play their role in controlling acne by:

  • Bypassing oil present in pores and dissolving the mixture of dead cells and sebum
  • Accumulation of this mixture can cause coagulation and acne
  • By eliminating oils, BHA can stabilize the lining of the pores leading to a clear-up of blackheads and whiteheads.

BHAs can exfoliate the skin’s topmost layer but are best suitable for deep penetration inside the skin cells. BHAs are best for oily or acne-prone skin.

Difference between AHA and BHA:


There are a few differences between AHAs and BHA as:

AHAs are only water-based and they best work for the skin’s top layer/surface. While BHAs are oil-soluble, which makes them best suitable for working on the skin’s inner surface. These acids can cleanse the pores and dirt inside them. 

AHAs have well moisturizing properties to hydrate the skin. While BHAs have natural calming properties for the skin. 

AHAs can reduce the visible or premature signs of sun damage, wrinkles, and scaly skin. While BHAs are gentle products for treating the sensitivity of acne-prone skin. Moreover, BHA can also help with the redness of the skin due to rosacea, blemishes, enlarged pores, and bumps. 

After using either of these agents, you must use sunscreen to avoid sun damage due to skin sensitivity. Experts say that you should use BHAs and AHAs in different shifts. For example, you can use BHAs at night or AHAs in the morning. You should only combine both of these acids as per dermatologist/expert prescription. 

According to the experts, women should start using AHA and BHA at least once a week at the start of their 20s. In this way, they can control premature aging and other detrimental effects of the sun. 


AHAs and BHAs are potent acids and exfoliators for the skin. These acids can help with dead skin removal and skin cell rejuvenation. Before incorporating both of these acids in your skincare, always consult your dermatologist.



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