Exfoliants - AHA and BHA

Alpha-hyrdoxy Acids or AHA

AHAs are chemicals promoted to reduce signs of photo-aging such as rough skin surface texture, fine lines, and uneven pigmentation.  They stimulate the cellular turnover process which slows down as we age. 

AHAs exfoliate the top layer of the skin and help improve the appearance of wrinkles, and get rid of some skin discoloration. Lactic acid and glycolic acid have been demonstrated to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and stimulate production of new cells. 

AHAs are naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars in particular plants. Some examples are Glycolic Acid (Sugar Cane), Lactic Acid (Milk), Tartaric Acid (Grapes), Citric Acid (Citrus Fruits) and Malic Acid (Apples).  

Glycolic Acid is the best known and smallest of the AHAs and is widely used for nail care, hair care and chemical peelings in skin care. Glycolic Acid has low molecular weight which helps in penetration and in collagen production. Glycolic Acid used in our products is free of formaldehyde.

Mandelic Acid is extracted from bitter almonds helps to lighten skin irregularities and hyperpigmentation. Mandelic Acid cannot penetrate layers of the skin to enable deeper exfoliation.

It is recommended to incorporate sun protection products into your routine before you use an AHA. Chemical exfoliants encourage skin turnover but your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun increasing the risk of burns, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

Beta Hydroxy Acid or BHA

Salicylic acid, a BHA, is helpful if your skin is oily or acne prone. It has the ability to remove dead cells, to smooth the face surface and helps to keep up the skin's elasticity. It also can serve as an anti-dandruff agent, denaturant, exfoliant, hair conditioning agent, preservative, and skin conditioning agent with keratolytic properties.

BHAs can enhance the rate of stratum corneum exfoliation in much the same way as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), although with minimization of irritation often associated with AHAs.  It can improve fine lines and wrinkles as well as treat acne. In addition, salicylic acid has been suggested as a therapeutic agent for remediating the effects of photoaging.

Salicylic acid is oil-soluble and can easily penetrate the skin.  It is anti-inflammatory, anti-comedogenic and therefore very effective to fight against acne.

AHA/BHA is more effective at a low pH and it is recommended that sufficient time has elapsed before applying the next product in your routine.

Here is the science supporting the use of AHA for exfoliation. Conclusion from this paper "...cosmetic benefits from the use of alpha-hydroxy acids are caused by modification of the skin surface, the epidermis and the dermis...."


“Epidermal and Dermal Effects of Topical Lactic Acid - PubMed Labs.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1996, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pubmed/8784274-epidermal-and-dermal-effects-of-topical-lactic-acid/ 

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