Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids are the unsung heroes of skincare – they both have the ability to fight the signs of aging, improve an uneven skin tone, reduce dullness and breakouts, improve hydration, stimulate collagen production and firming skin. BHA’s have the ability to break down and exfoliate dead-skin cells but the main difference between them is that BHA’s are oil soluble whereas AHA’s are water soluble however they can still be used together.
Scrubs and cleaning brushes on their own are an option for exfoliating the skin, however they only work on the very superficial top layer of the skin. Most of the unhealthy, built up skin cells are beyond the reach of a scrub; and these leave-on exfoliants are actually more gentle to the skin and achieve deeper results.
AHA’s are derived from fruits and the most common acids are Glycolic, Lactic, Mandelic, Citric, Malic and Tartaric Acids. AHA’s work better for sun-damaged and dry skin because they exfoliate the surface layers of the skin and help skin retain more water thus improving the moisture content. AHA’s are excellent for rejuvenating ageing skin as they can increase dermal thickness, promote the turnover of new skin cells, and improve collagen density and elastic fibers. They are great for dry skin as they have some humectant properties, meaning they hold moisture to the skin. AHA’s are water soluble making them more suitable for thickened and sun-damaged skin where breakouts don’t occur frequently.
BHA’s (Salisylic Acid) being an oil soluble molecule, has the ability to penetrate pores filled with sebum (oil) and exfoliate them, making BHA particularly useful for oily, acne-prone skin. It may cause slight drying of the skin but more gentle than other acne treatments. Salisylic acid’s anti-microbial action may also benefit rosacea because there’s some research suggesting that certain microbes on the skin may be causing or contributing to the disorder. BHA’s have some anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action and are a good ingredient for spot treatments. Don’t use BHA’s if you’re allergic to asprin because of aspirin’s close relationship to BHA - BHA is salicylic acid, while aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid.