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Your Guide to AHAs, BHAs & PHAs

Your Guide to AHAs, BHAs & PHAs

We know you’ve heard a lot about acids but may not know which ones are best suited to your skin. There’s an abundance of information out there which can be overwhelming and at times tedious to consume, so we wanted to provide you with a short and sweet breakdown of the different types of acids in skincare.

Let’s start with Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, better known as AHAs. You may have heard of glycolic, lactic or mandelic acid – these are some of the most popular and accessible exfoliating acids. AHAs are water-soluble acids that chemically exfoliate your skin. They dissolve the dead skin cells on the outer layers of your skin by loosening the bond that binds dead skin cells to the skin’s surface. For someone who experiences dry skin, AHAs could be the exfoliant for you. They are known for their ability to eliminate flakiness and dryness, visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, smoothen skin texture, help prevent blemishes and promote radiance. We recommend the Ready Steady Daily AHA Tonic by Ren Skincare. It’s formulated with lactic and azelaic acid to eliminate dead skin cells, smooth texture and promote radiance.

If you have sensitive skin, you might choose to opt for mandelic acid instead. Due to the larger size of its molecules, it doesn’t penetrate as deep into the skin as glycolic or lactic acid which generally makes it safer for those with sensitive skin. You could opt for the Mandelic and Liquorice Superfood Glow Toner by Heroine which contains ingredients such as kombucha which is responsible for rebuilding and reinforcing your skin’s barrier.

Next are Beta-Hydroxy Acids, also known as BHAs. Salicylic acid is the BHA most commonly used in skincare and it’s nothing short of a holy grail for those with oily skin. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, therefore it is able to penetrate much deeper into your pores and not only dissolve dead skin cells but also dissolve excess oil and debris. This is perfect for those experiencing oily and/or acne-prone skin as excess sebum clogs pores and encourages breakouts and blemishes. Also, salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties which help to soothe acne-prone skin and stimulate the healing process. If you like the sound of this and want to give a BHA a go, why not try Superdrug’s Me+ Salicylic Acid Cleanser – a foaming cleanser formulated with BHA to gently remove oil and impurities combined with ceramides to promote nourishment and protect your skin barrier.

See Also

Last but certainly not least is the underdog of exfoliating acids – polyhydroxy acids or PHAs. These acids are said to be the gentlest out of the group. The three most common types seen in skincare are gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid. PHAs work similarly to AHAs except they don’t penetrate the skin as deeply or quickly, which makes them more appropriate for people who find other acids too strong. They also do a great job of maintaining hydration, providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and fighting glycation. Glycation is a process that weakens the collagen and elastin present in your skin, which can lead to skin concerns since they are responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Glow Recipe’s PHA+BHA Pore Tight Toner contains a plethora of powerhouse ingredients including cucumber, cactus water, watermelon and tea tree extract to name a few. Not only are its contents multi-faceted, but so is the experience it provides, from the bouncy, light texture to the fruity scent and cooling sensation it creates on your skin. It’s basically a one-step facial in a bottle!

To help get the most out of any of the acids you choose, be sure to consider your skin type and the skin concerns you want to address when deciding which one to go for – this is a really useful way to ensure the products you’re using are working effectively on your skin.

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