AHA or BHA: how to choose the right exfoliant for your skin

There's a difference between AHA and BHA exfoliants. Pick the right one for your skin!

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Stepping into the world of skincare is like opening pandora’s box. On one hand, it’s amazing that there are so many products that can make you glow, but on the other hand—choose the wrong one and the results can be disastrous. One thing’s for sure though, if you really want to see your skin shine, you need a good exfoliator by your side. And if you’ve been hearing about the magic of AHA and BHA exfoliants, you’ve come to the right place.

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What are AHA and BHA exfoliants?

The reason why specialists harp on exfoliating at least once a week is because once you get rid of those dead skin cells on the surface of your face, your skin will look and feel absolutely fresh and new. Normally our skin automatically exfoliates dead skin cells on a daily basis, but the process slows down as we age, and this is where AHA and BHA comes into play.

AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) are exfoliating acids that remove dead skin cells. When you use these acids you won’t physically see your dead skin coming off, but you will definitely notice your skin becoming youthful by the day. These acids will smoothen and brighten your skin, and it will help with hyperpigmentation as well. They both have anti-ageing properties that you can also benefit from.

Although the acids have many similar functions, there are some differences that you should take into account before choosing your exfoliant.


Alpha hydroxy acid is derived from plant sources like sugar cane, and the most common forms that you will see in skincare products are glycolic acid and lactic acid.

Experts usually recommend AHA to those with skin that is dry and sun-damaged. This acid has a remarkable ability to moisturise the skin, increase collagen production, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. AHA is water-soluble, which means that it only works on the surface of the skin, while BHA is oil-soluble.


Beta hydroxy acid is better known as salicylic acid, and it is recommended to people who have acne-prone and oily skin. It’s highly effective for those seeking to reduce their acne, because it can shrink and unclog pores from deep within. So, if you’ve been dealing with acne, especially cystic acne, you’ll be better off with a BHA solution.

Depending on your skin type, you can also use a combination of both acids. However, in most cases you’ll be able to get a great deal of benefits just by using one solution.

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