AHAs and BHAs: All About Exfoliating Acids + Our Top Product Picks

AHAs and BHAs: All About Exfoliating Acids + Our Top Product Picks

Pop quiz for skincare pros:

Do you know the difference between your exfoliating acids?


While most skin experts recognize the importance of utilizing acid-based ingredients to create an amazing beauty treatment, it can sometimes be an afterthought to truly understand the various options and what they do.


To help you break it down and achieve even better results with your favorite products, we’ve created this quick primer. Keep reading for everything you need to know about alpha and beta-hydroxy acids in your skincare products:


AHAs 101: About Alpha-Hydroxy Acids

Alpha-hydroxy acids or, AHAs are a natural exfoliant typically derived from fruit. Some of the most popular examples you’ll see often in skincare include glycolic acid from sugar, lactic acid from fermented milk or plants, malic acid from apples, and tartaric acid from grapes.


As a skincare ingredient these types of acids can be incorporated at a variety of different percentages ranging from mild to aggressive, and many exfoliating formulas will feature multiple AHAs for added benefit.

What are the benefits of AHAs?

The primary function of AHAs is to exfoliate, by dissolving the bonds between dead cells on the surface of the skin. They can be used to resurface rough or textured skin, brighten a dull complexion, and diminish discoloration, while also encouraging renewal and regeneration at a cellular level.


Who are AHAs for?

Just about anyone can benefit from using alpha-hydroxy acids. They work quickly to produce positive change in the skin and are particularly effective for addressing aging skin. By helping the epidermis to shed surface buildup, AHAs work well to smooth and soften the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and sun damage.

BHAs 101: Beta-Hydroxy Basics

Another form of organic acid, BHA or beta-hydroxy acid is derived from willow bark and is also commonly known as salicylic acid. Its chemical composition differs just slightly from that of alpha-hydroxy acids, and in many cases a BHA-based formula will be considered to be more gentle than one that is AHA-based. Also, in many cases, BHA will often be paired with AHAs for maximum effect.


What are the benefits of BHAs?

Similar to an alpha-hydroxy acid, beta-hydroxy acid exfoliates by breaking up dead skin buildup. However, one added benefit of BHAs is that they are very effective at dissolving excess oil and providing anti-inflammatory benefits. In a mild percentage, it can actually help calm and soothe inflammatory skin symptoms including redness and irritation.


Who are BHAs for?

Because BHA has the added benefit of supporting balanced oil production, and reducing inflammation, it tends to be a great go-to for breakout prone skin. By targeting congestion, and simultaneously calming the skin, it makes a perfect choice for treating blackheads, blemishes, cystic lesions, and other concerns related to acne.


Working with AHAs and BHAs: Our Product Picks

For utilizing all of the incredible benefits of alpha and beta-hydroxy acids, two of our favorite products are the AHA Cleanser and BHA Cleanser by Sugoi Skin. The AHA Cleanser is a liquid gel cleanser featuring glycolic acid, to loosen up dead or dry surface skin.


Meanwhile, the BHA Cleanser is a silky cleansing formula that blends BHA with plant extracts, willow bark, licorice root, and witch hazel. The advantage of these two options is that you can customize your protocol according to the needs of each individual being treated. It’s the perfect solution for success every time you cleanse!

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