Use this easy-to-follow guide to figure out the differences between AHA and BHA and how to choose the right option for your skin. If your hands are sensitive (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re washing them a lot these days), it may make sense to apply the product with gloves or on a cotton pad. "This blends two AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid (HA). Play around with keeping it on for five minutes or seven minutes, especially if your skin gets red easily. In fact, there are two forms of exfoliating acids that can make sifting through the plethora of options feel like more like a daunting task than a fun trip to the skincare aisle. Its molecule is slightly larger than glycolic acid, meaning it works a bit slower and doesn't penetrate the skin's outermost layer as easily. "For example, an in-office peel could have a substantial impact on the skin with associated downtime, while an over-the-counter cream containing these ingredients will give a more limited effect that takes time to accomplish the desired result," she says. They also stimulate collagen production, which makes AHAs a good choice if anti-aging is your number one concern. The most common BHA you'll find while checking the label of acne-fighting products is salicylic acid. Should You Be Eating Peaches or Nectarines? Doing this moves the dirt from your skin into your bottle of product and contaminates it. BHAs are very similar in chemical structure to AHAs. Now let’s do some acid. When I used the product the fourth time, I noticed that I had a small but noticeable red patch on my face that I had never seen before—not a scratch, not a breakout, just an angry, immovable red patch. AHAs are derived from fruits or sugar cane, which is why you may sometimes see them referred to as fruit acids. While BHAs will work to keep acne from forming, AHAs will decrease inflammation and get rid of the red marks that acne leaves behind. Should You Get a Glycolic, Salicylic, or TCA Peel? But unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil-soluble, which means they can go deep inside your pores to target oil glands and decrease oil secretion. Following the instructions that come with the product, I cleansed my skin and dried it thoroughly. An AHA/BHA combo might work depending on your skin type, but when your goal is to exfoliate just the top layer of your skin, you should be using an AHA. BHA stands for beta-hydroxy acid. While the word "chemical" might sound a tad scary, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are simply acids that gently unclog pores by removing dead skin cells, leading to more even skin pigmentation, improved texture, and decreased inflammation. ⚠️ Safety tip: While retinol is also an anti-aging superstar, you do not want to combine retinol products with acids of any kind, as it can overwhelm your skin. It’s The Ordinary Peeling Solution, the skin-care world’s newest obsession. For this reason, they should be used when you want your skin to glow a few times a week as opposed to every day. How to Choose AHA vs. BHA . "AHAs exert benefits both to the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and the deep layer (the dermis)," says Howe. When choosing between AHA and BHA, it comes down to the way in which you want the products to work along with your skin concerns. It's also recommended for people with greasy skin, since this acid decreases oil secretion. True, our skin goes through a natural exfoliating process daily, but with lack of sun protection and age, that process of shedding tends to slow down—or end altogether. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. That ever-popular acne-busting ingredient, salicylic acid? Markowitz notes that AHAs are generally recommended for normal to dry, sun-damaged skin, thanks to their ability to enhance natural moisturizing factors within the skin. As an Editorial Fellow for Good Housekeeping, Katie covers health, beauty, home, and pop culture. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Markowitz explains that AHAs and BHAs and their strengths are dependent on the mode and formula. And now I am coming to your house to do a socially distanced intervention, because this is not the most sophisticated technique science can offer, and I want better for you and your precious face. For stubborn blackheads, we like this BHA-infused liquid post-toning—it effectively gets rid of excess sebum to reduce blackhead production and unclogs pores. I tried the product—a $7 at-home chemical peel—for several weeks. "Alpha-hydroxy acids are safe for most skin types, but I tend to caution those with darker skin tones to start low due to the risk of superficial chemical burns," says Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali, a dermatologist based in New York City. (I typically use this one from The Ordinary. Use it only once a week to start. I am extremely not sponsored; I just love the brand.). Here's what I found: If you use The Ordinary’s iconic blood red mask correctly, your skin will glow as if lit from within by a vintage chandelier. What's Better: Amazon Echo or Google Home? sunscreen with an SPF level of at least 30. Products are sorted into categories like Molecules and Peptides and have names like EUK 134 0.1%. When you first begin adding acids to your skincare routine, start with a low concentration and use only once or twice a week. For an issue like dry skin, however, AHA is your best bet. Exfoliators come in two different forms, chemical and mechanical. What is an AHA+BHA solution, and why should you (very, very carefully) put it on your face? "AHAs are derived from sugar cane or other plant sources, which is why they are often referred to as fruit acids," says Howe. But what's the difference between AHAs and BHAs? I didn't mind the tiny pinprick feeling of the mask because it gave me joy to imagine that the chemicals were munching up the dead cells and oil on my face. The glowing effect was immediate. It's made with willow bark, which is a natural BHA high in salicylic acid, to treat any blemishes and prevent future breakouts. AHAs have a number of benefits. He also says the salicylic acid is known to fight bacteria and can be used to treat calluses and other areas of dry skin. Featuring a AHA/BHA combo, this serum promises to transform congested skin into a smoother, clearer complexion. This rings true with the most familiar type of BHA, salicylic acid, too. The Ordinary Peeling Solution is distinguished from the brand’s other exfoliators because it is a wash-off mask, unlike, for example, the Glycolic Acid 7% toning solution, which you swipe on with a cotton pad, or the Salicylic Acid 2% solution, which you use as a spot treatment. Both chemical and physical exfoliation removes dead skin cells, which improves skin texture, and can keep acne and signs of aging at bay. "BHAs are organic carboxylic acids that work on skin’s surface and deep inside the pore," explains Markowitz. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. The peeling solution (peel, as in it peels off your microscopic skin particles, not peel, as in it forms a satisfying mask which you can remove from your skin in one piece) is also distinct because it combines multiple types of exfoliants. But before you start scrubbing the heck out of your face, let's start with the basics. "Salicylic acid (SA) is fat-soluble, so it’s good on oily skin and gives it an enhanced ability to penetrate pores," says Howe. "AHAs do this both by increasing collagen synthesis by fibroblasts (the collagen-producing cells in the skin), and by decreasing degradation of the existing dermal matrix," he says. Chemical exfoliation sounds like an Enlightenment-era torture invention, but it is actually a gentler, more effective way to shed old skin cells and reveal brighter, clearer skin.


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