AHA, BHA, PHA, LHA—trying to decode the realm of acronym-ridden exfoliating acids isn’t the easiest of tasks, especially if you’re not familiar with these types of skincare products. But don’t let the alphabet soup and the idea of putting an acid on your face turn you off from them!
These products work wonders when it comes to exfoliation and correcting common skincare troubles. Ready for radiant skin? Check out our guide below on the different types of exfoliating acids, what they do, and who they’re for.
Table of Contents
AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid)
If you take a peek at the ingredient labels on your skincare products, it’s not unlikely that you’ll find AHAs in many of them. If you happen to find glycolic, citric, lactic, malic, or tartaric acid (among others)—congrats, you’ve managed to spot the AHAs! AHAs are water-soluble and work on the skin’s surface, brightening your complexion and effectively targeting issues like uneven skin texture, hyperpigmentation, and softening wrinkles. The best part? They work well for almost all skin types, but particularly for rough skin.
BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid)
BHAs are just as commonly known as AHAs, but don’t get it twisted, their purposes are completely different. Yes, both are exfoliants, but BHAs are specifically targeted to oily skin. Because BHAs are fat-soluble, they’ll do a better job at reaching the inner layers of the skin to help unclog pores and cut down on oil production. The most well-known BHA is salicylic acid, which not only helps combat excess oil but also decreases the appearance of acne.
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PHA (Poly Hydroxy Acid)
Got sensitive skin? Then PHAs will likely be the exfoliating acid for you. PHAs function in the same manner as AHAs do, except they work more gently because of their larger molecular structure. So if you’ve ever turned down AHAs because of sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea or eczema—just make the switch to PHAs. You can still enjoy the same brightening and regenerative effects, without the irritation.
LHA (Lipo Hydroxy Acid)
LHAs are derived from salicylic acid, so think of them as BHA’s more chilled out, younger sister. These exfoliants have a similar purpose to BHAs but don’t penetrate the skin as deep and have a similar pH level to the skin—making them perfect for sensitive skin or oily skin that’s also sensitive. Cleaning out the pores, fighting acne, and doing it all in a mild manner? Check, check, and check.
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