Skin acids, AHA’s and BHA’s are terms used widely in the skincare world. But what is a skin acid and what’s the difference between an AHA and a BHA? Can they be used together and do I really need them in my skincare routine? Hopefully this blog post will help you understand more about these amazing ingredients….

What do they stand for?


Skin acids may sound terrifying, but they’re very useful ingredients to have in your skincare routine and come in many forms. Many of the skin acids can be broken down into two categories depending on their properties: AHA’s and BHA’s. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid, whereas BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. Both of them have the same purpose: they act to unclog the bonds that hold together the dead skin cells within the skin. In simpler terms, they work to exfoliate the skin’s cells and get rid of all the built up dead skin and oil.

They are both effective at improving dull skin, diminishing fine lines and wrinkles as well as encourage skin cell regeneration. Whilst they both do similar things, they do work in different ways which is why depending on your skin concern, you may only need one or the other.

What do they do?

AHA’s work only on the skin’s surface as they are water soluble chemicals. They work to remove the dead skin cells on the surface, which in turn leads to skin cell regeneration. Due to the ageing process, the skin cell regeneration cycle slows down. This means that excess dead skin cells can accumulate which gives the skin an overall dull appearance. This is why AHA’S can promote smoother and more hydrated skin and can be useful in targeting fine lines and wrinkles and are suitable for people with dry skin.

In contrast, BHA’s work on the surface and also deep inside the pores. They are oil soluble instead, meaning that they are great at unclogging congested skin and treating concerns such as blackheads and whiteheads. As they are able to penetrate deep within the skin’s cell, they can remove dead skin cells as well as excess sebum. This means that they are able perfect to be used on a combination/oily skin type.

Where can I find them?


It can be confusing to know where to look for products containing AHA’s and BHA’s. Despite this, many skincare brands now have a few products containing AHA’s and BHA’s due to their effectiveness and popularity within the skincare market. The two most common AHA’s to look out for are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. BHA’s are most commonly found as Salicylic Acid, which is a hero ingredient that many people swear by when treating skin concerns such as acne.

These products can come in many forms, ranging from serums, lotions and masks so therefore they are easy to fit into your existing skincare routine. Some great ones include The Ordinary Lactic Acid, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant and The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Liquid Toner.

Which do I need?

Depending on your main skin concerns, you may not need both an AHA and BHA in your routine. For example, if your main skin concerns are dull skin, signs ageing and rough texture then you’d be best starting with an AHA based product. If you are worried about common skin issues such as blackheads and whiteheads, a BHA product will be your best friend.

You can use both an AHA and BHA in your skin routine, but don’t go overboard with using them or you could irritate the skin further. Build up your usage gradually. It may be worth alternating your routine too, such as one day use your AHA product and another use your BHA product to avoid overloading the skin.

Alternatively, if you feel as though you need a professional deep exfoliation, our Microdermabrasion treatment is amazing at combatting an array of different skin issues. Check out our treatment page for more information about how it can help your skin.


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