If you’re a Euro client or follow us online, you’ve probably heard of alpha-hydroxy-acids and beta-hydroxy-acids, otherwise known as AHAs and BHAs. You may even have one or both ingredients in some of your skin care products (like our AHA/BHA Cleanser or Aloe Salicylic Toner). While AHAs and BHAs are both natural acids that help remove dead surface skin cells, there’s some important differences between them. See which one (or both) is right for your skin type or condition.
The FDA explains that AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliating methods to remove dead surface skin cells. The difference is that AHAs are water soluble and have a smaller molecular size and BHAs are oil soluble with a larger molecular size.
Who Should Use an AHA and Who Should Use a BHA?
AHAs and BHAs are used to repair and improve different skin conditions. AHAs help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. BHAs are best for oily and blemish prone skin. Both help improve the appearance of skin texture and tone with continued use.
AHAs are a bit more commonly found in skin-care formulations than BHAs. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. Our Euro Botanicals Aloe Salicylic Toner, and Herbal Serum contain forms of salicylic acid. Glycagel 15% is a gentle form of glycolic acid (AHA) which helps exfoliate the skin to reveal a brighter, more even-looking complexion and reduce appearance of signs of aging.
What Should You Know Before Adding AHAs and BHAs to Your Routine?
Like manual exfoliation (facial scrubs), chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs can cause dryness and irritation. Use with caution – do a skin patch test first – or ask one of our student estheticians for a recommendation. Follow the instructions and follow up with moisturizer. If your skin gets irritated, use less often (once or twice a week max).
Something to remember when using chemical exfoliants - you’ll need to be diligent with sun-protection. Both AHAs and BHAs increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so be sure to use sunscreen (with an SPF value of at least 15, preferabl
y 30) and reapply every two hours while exposed.