Whether you want to fight the signs of aging, improve an uneven skin tone, reduce dullness, breakouts, or all of the above, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliants go beyond what a scrub can do to reveal radiant skin. Don’t let the “acid” part of their names scare you. AHAs and BHAs can actually be gentler on your skin than a cleansing brush. We’ll explain how.
Why You Should Exfoliate Skin
Your skin naturally sheds millions of skin cells every day, but this shedding process can come to a stop for various reasons. The results are dull, dry, or flaky skin; clogged, enlarged pores; blackheads; wrinkles; loss of firmness; and uneven skin tone.
When you finally gently get rid of the built up skin cells, you can unclog pores, stop breakouts, smooth wrinkles, and make dry, dull skin go away. That’s where AHA and BHA exfoliants are useful.
The Difference Between AHA and BHA
When properly formulated, AHA and BHA have a lot in common in regards to their potential for improving hydration, reducing wrinkles, stimulating collagen production, and firming skin. Both can also reduce discolorations from sun damage and the visible marks left after a breakout is gone.
However, each also has unique qualities you’ll want to consider when deciding which one to use.
- AHAs primarily exfoliate skin in the uppermost layers. They are preferred for those whose chief concern is sun damage
- BHAs have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They are also able to penetrate the oil clogging your pores. For these reasons BHAs are ideal for treating acne-prone skin, blackheads, enlarged pores, milia, and rosacea.
If your skin is sun damaged and you’re also struggling with acne or clogged pores BHA is the ideal choice. Some people find using both an AHA and BHA produces even more dramatic results!
Why Not Just Use a Scrub or Cleansing Brush?
Scrubs and cleansing brushes are another option to exfoliate skin, but they only deal with the very top, superficial layer of skin. Most of the unhealthy, built-up skin cells are beyond the reach of a scrub. Most have a rough, coarse, uneven texture that can cause tiny micro-tears in skin. If you can find a gentle scrub, it’s best thought of as an extra-cleansing step to boost the results from your cleanser. But they don’t replace the benefits possible from a well formulated AHA or BHA exfoliant.
Is it Possible to Exfoliate Skin Too Often?
Exfoliating your skin is great, but it is possible to overdo it, and your skin will tell you if you’ve gone too far. For some people, once or twice works best; for others every other day, or even once a week-experiment to see what works best for you.
Now that you know the many ways an AHA or BHA can exfoliant skin, all that’s left to do is find the one that works best for you.