Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids

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What are they?

Hydroxy acids are organic acids found in natural sources such as fruits, or are synthesized in the laboratory. They are used in skincare for their exfoliation and un-clogging properties, so they act as skin conditioners and exfoliants and they stimulate the production of new skin cells. Using hydroxy acids leaves the skin less dull and smoother in texture with clearer pores.

What is the difference between AHAs and BHA?

The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids is their ability to deal with oil. Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble only, so they’re not as effective in unclogging the skin. Beta hydroxy acids are soluble in oil so they’re excellent for dealing with blocked and acne skin types.

AHAs

Alpha hydroxy acids are mostly derived from fruit and milk sugars. There are several different types of AHA: lactic acid from milk, glycolic acid from sugar, citric acid from fruits, tartaric acid from grapes and malic acid from apples. They work by reacting with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the dead skin cells there and speeding up our skin’s shedding process. This means dead skin cells are loosened and shed more easily, underlying fresh skin cells are revealed and new skin cell growth is initiated.

Because of their ability to exfoliate and reveal fresh skin, alpha hydroxy acids can assist in the reduction of surface lines, roughness and uneven skin tone (pigmentation). Because they’€™re water soluble, alpha hydroxy acids are better suited to dry, sun-damaged skin where acne isn’€™t a concern. Any skin care product should contain a concentration of at least 5 to 15 percent of alpha hydroxy acids for ideal results.

AHAs are commonly used in skin peel treatments to deal with pigmentation, ageing and dryness. These treatments are performed by skin therapists.

BHAs

Beta hydroxy acid is also known as Salicylic acid. It’s more effective at working deeper in the skin and eliminating clogging in the pores. BHA is commonly used in acne skin treatments usually in a dosage of 1 to 5 percent. Often both AHAs and BHA will be used together in skin treatments for problem skin for a thorough surface exfoliation and pore clean.

BHA is commonly used in skin peel treatments to deal with acne and clogged skin. These treatments are performed by trained skin therapists.

AHA and BHA skin type cheat Sheet

I have:

Dry skin Look for products with a good percentage of AHA
Ageing skin Look for products with a good percentage of AHA in them
Oily skin Look for products with a good concentration of BHA that might be blended with some AHA too
Acne skin Look for products with a good concentration of BHA that might be blended with some AHA too