Learn more about the AHAs and BHAs used in skincare.
Being in the skincare business (if you produce or formulate skincare products or if you are simply into the business of taking good care of your skin), you’re most likely to have come across the AHAs and BHAs of skincare. AHAs and BHAs are both hydroxy acids and can be found on moisturizers, cleansers, toners, scrubs, peels, or masks. Understanding the uses, benefits, uses, and differences of these two is beneficial to both business owners and consumers.
AHAs: Uses and Benefits
Alpha-Hydroxy Acid or the AHA is commonly derived from sugary fruits or other plant and milk sources and is a common ingredient in the formulation of cosmetic and skincare products. AHAs are known to primarily target dry skin conditions (sun-damaged skin) because of their natural moisturizing ability. They also help reduce the signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
AHAs have a good number of benefits. For starters, they target all the areas of the skin. AHAs have an exfoliative effect – helping shed the dead skin cells retained on the skin to make way for evenly pigmented skin cells to generate and take their place.
The AHA is also used to treat cases of mild hyperpigmentation like melasma and scars, uneven skin tone, and enlarged pores.
Aside from their significant exfoliation capabilities, AHAs are also known to stimulate collagen production. Hence, you can find AHAs in many anti-aging products.
Types of AHAs
One of the many common types of AHA is Glycolic acid, made from sugar cane. It provides exfoliation and is a great all-around treatment with its antimicrobial properties, helping prevent acne.
Lactic acid is an AHA derived from the lactose in milk and is known for its exfoliation and anti-aging effects.
From the name itself, citric acid is a form of AHA that is made from citrus fruit extracts and helps neutralize the skin’s PH level to help even out the rough patches of the skin. Citric acid is ideal to use for making a serum or toner. It is also ideal in sunscreen products to provide UV protection.
Made from grape extracts, this AHA type of acid helps relieve the skin from sun and acne damage.
Effects and uses slightly differ from each type of AHA so make sure you understand the goal of using AHA and how you want it to work on the skin.
BHAs: Uses and Benefits
While AHAs are water-based agents, the BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid, is oil-soluble. BHAs can penetrate deep into the pores of the skin, removing dead skin cells and excess sebum. They are commonly used for targeting skin with acne and sun damage. Because of these features, BHAs are usually most suited for people with combination to oily skin.
Salicylic acid, the most common type of BHA, is well-known for its acne-treating abilities and helps calm down skin redness. This is the reason why SA is used in many acne products.
Another feature is that it is known to fight bacteria and can be used to treat calluses and dry skin. In high concentrations of BHA, it can be used to treat warts. BHA works the same way as AHA, only that it penetrates more deeply into the skin.
Types of BHAs
Salicylic Acid and Citric Acid
SA is known to be fat-soluble and has an advanced ability to penetrate the skin, allowing it to treat acne. While Citric acid is primarily known as an AHA, some formulations are BHA and this type is used to dry out excess sebum and clean out dead skin cells in the skin.
Other BHAs include beta-hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, and trethocanic acid.
Similarities and Differences
One common benefit of these two hydroxy acids is their ability to help improve sun-damaged skin.
Both AHAs and BHAs also work as exfoliants - only they work differently, as they have other properties that make each acid more appropriate for other skin conditions or skin features.
BHAs have antibacterial effects and tend to increase the skin's resistance to UV skin damage. AHAs, on the other hand, provide progressive exfoliation. They also have the effects of collagen production making them ideal as an anti-aging solution.
To put the differences simply, if you are looking to target dry skin and get anti-aging benefits, go for AHA. But if you are looking to treat acne and sun-damaged skin, look for BHA in the ingredients.
One can use both the AHA and BHA together. Use one product in the morning and one during the nighttime if you want to address multiple skin problems. Another strategy is to use it on alternating days. Or apply AHA on dry areas and BHA to oily areas of the skin if you have combination skin.
If you're formulating a product and want to use AHA or BHA, choose the one that addresses the skin concern you want to tackle better.
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