We all hear about how we should be using a mix of acids on our skin to promote healthy, glowing skin and prevent aging. However, before you start adding acids into your skin care routine, it’s important that you understand the basics of acids: what are they, what do they do, benefits, what should we be aware about?
Let’s break it down. Hydroxy acids are acids that have anti-aging and skin soothing effects. Hydroxy acids are actually a family of chemicals: α-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and β-hydroxy acids (BHAs), combination hydroxy acids (CHA) and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs).
AHA and BHA are really just broad terms with little differing significance (to anyone other than a chemist). But wait - I think it's still important to educate yourself about the difference between BHA & AHAs and essentially, what's going on your face.
Before we understand the difference between AHA and BHAs, let’s consider our skin - our body’s largest organ. Our skin’s outer layer is composed of damaged skin as well as dead skin cells, which slough off over time. Younger skin is more efficient at this process via exfoliation, which stimulates the growth of new skin cells at the deeper level. But as we age, our skin gets “less good” at this - so the outer surface of our skin starts to thicken with a build up of damaged skin, scar tissue & dead skill cells. This type of surface makes the skin appear dull and also decreases elasticity; lines and creases begin and eventually, deeper wrinkles appear. When we exfoliate, we peel off surface skills to allow new skin cells to regenerate and emerge, thus giving us the healthy, glowing skin we strive for!
How do AHA & BHAs work?
AHA and BHAs loosen the glue holding the skin cells together, thus causing the top layer of the skin to exfoliate. This allows for:
AHA & BHAs are similar because they both:
AHA & BHAs are different because:
How can you tell the effectiveness of a product?
I hope this blog post provided you with valuable information about acids. There's always so much to learn, and I am happy to be learning and sharing knowledge at the same time.
PS. Remember to always wear sunscreen - regardless of whether or not you are using acids in your routine; it is the best thing you can do for anti-aging!
Cates, N. D. (1998). Uncovering a new you: AHA's & BHA's. Better Nutrition, 60(6), 70-74.
Draelos, Z. D. (2000). α‐Hydroxy acids, β‐hydroxy acid, and other topical agents. Dermatologic Therapy, 13(2), 154-158.
Paula's Choice (n.d.). The difference between AHA and BHA exfoliants. Retrieved from https://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/skincare-advice/paulas-choice-product-tips/difference-between-aha-and-bha-exfoliants.html
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