It’s natural to be wary of putting anything with ‘acids’ anywhere near our face. But not all acids are created equal — in fact, AHAs and BHAs are great at improving your complexion and returning that healthy glow to your skin.
Can someone make sense of all those letters please?
AHAs are alpha hydroxy acids, which are derived from milk and fruit extracts. The kind of AHAs you find in skincare products are a gentler alternative to manual exfoliation because they shed the dead skin cells naturally by dissolving the weak bonds that hold them to your skin. This results in stronger skin, a brighter complexion and the fading of acne scars and pigmentation for an even skin tone. Glycolic and lactic acids are popular forms of AHAs.
If you have oily skin, you might already be familiar with BHAs — betahydroxy acids — in a common ingredient, salicylic acid. Like AHAs, BHAs are also organic acids, and a great weapon against complexion-marring whiteheads, blackheads and acne, because they’re oil soluble acids which get into your pores and draw out excess oil. This actively removes dead skin and dirt in your pores, instead of just loosening them. Clean pores lead to clear and brighter skin.
Both these acids have also been proven to strengthen skin by improving collagen production and thickening the epidermis, plumping up your skin and reducing lines and wrinkles for better skin texture.
When should I use it?
BHAs are great if you’re acne-prone. They limit breakouts in the skin by zapping bacteria in the pores. However, BHAs can be drying, so if you have dry and sensitive skin, consider AHAs instead, as they help retain moisture in the skin.
You won’t have to specifically be on the lookout for AHA and BHA on a product list, as many off-the-shelf products include these acids in brightening cleansers and face masks.
Here’s one important piece of advice though: do not buy products — especially online — that promise you a DIY medical-grade peel at home. When their e-store reviews vary from “this is amazing!” to “I experienced a chemical burn”, always believe the worst review. You will receive that burn.
Stick to off-the-shelf skincare from a trusted pharmacy that’s tried, tested and scientifically proven to work without a doctor’s prescription.