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The Not-So-Spooky World of Acids: AHA BHA PHA


Acids. This Halloween, let's discuss something that sounds scarier than it really is! You must have seen acronyms like AHA, BHA and PHA on many skincare products. But have you ever wondered what they actually mean and what effects do these acids (yes they are all acids) have on your skin?

Basically, these acids are chemical exfoliators which help to remove your dead skin cells so that new and younger skin cells can grow. As a result, your skin will look healthier and more radiant. Read on to understand more about these three acids and find out which one is best for your skin.

AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)

AHA can naturally be found in fruits and dairy products but synthetic ones are more commonly used in cosmetics. It is water soluble, which makes it suitable for drier skins. Glycolic acid, which has the smallest molecular size, is the most powerful AHA. This make it especially effective in minimizing fine lines and evening out skin tones of mature skins, which tend to have slower cell renewal processes.

Lactic acid, which originates from milk and is slightly bigger in molecular size, does everything glycolic acid does, but at a slower rate. At the other end of the spectrum is mandelic acid, which has the biggest molecular size of the AHAs. This translates to the slowest penetration rate but it is more suitable for sensitive skin.

BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids)

BHA works in pretty much the same manner as AHA but because it is fat soluble, it is especially suitable for oily skins. BHA can penetrate deeper into skin layers and dissolve sebum hiding in the skin pores. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA around and it is widely known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. This soothing property is reason why it is often recommended for people with acne-prone skin.

PHA (Poly Hydroxy Acids)

Lastly, there is PHA, the newest kid on the block. PHA works like AHA but it is gentler in nature due to its larger molecular size. Yet it supposedly retains its effectiveness in exfoliation, making it ideal for sensitive skin, which is generally more prone to redness and irritation.


For anyone venturing into the world of these three acids, it is advisable that you slowly integrate them into your beauty regime. Every skin is different so what worked for others might not be suitable for you. At the beginning, try such skincare products in between days. When you are certain your skin doesn't show any irritation, you can slowly increase the frequency of use.

Also, the usage of these acids can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Ideally, we recommend that you use such chemical exfoliators at night but if you decide to also use them in the day, please remember to apply a sun screen with at least SPF 30!

We hope our article has helped to demystify the confusion surrounding these three acids. Now that you know which acid is suitable for you, head on over to our store to check them out!

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