AHA's & BHA 's 101

Grab some tea and get comfy Bellas. Today we're going to talk about Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids. We always see brands flaunting them as ingredients and hear skin care gurus preaching of the virtues. But do well really know much about them how to use them?

Oh... You do?

Well there is bound to be someone here that doesn't so no spoilers please.

On a molecular level, AHAs and BHAs are very similar. The only thing that separates them is a single carbon atom. But that single carbon atom makes all the defence it the world when it comes to use.

AHA's come from fruit and milk sugars. There are 5 major AHA's but the two most widely used are glycolic and lactic acids. These two penetrate the skin better. Here are the 5 major AHA's and their natural sources:

  • glycolic acid - sugar cane
  • lactic acid - milk
  • malic acid - apples and pears
  • citric acid - oranges and lemons
  • tartaric acid - grapes
The only BHA used in cosmetics is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid naturally comes the bark of a willow tree. BHA

The biggest difference between AHAs and BHA is their solubility. AHAs dissolve in water, while BHA dissolves in lipids (oils). BHA is better used on acne prone oily skin. AHAs are better used on drier where breakouts aren't an issue.

AHAs and BHA work mainly as chemical exfoliate. They speed up cellular renewal by loosening the outler layer cells, making way for new ones. AHA's and BHA decrease wrinkles, evens the texture and tone of the skin and improve sun damage. AHA'a are also reported to increase collagen and elastin production. BHA's oil solubility makes them an effective treatment against acne.

AHA's and BHA can both cause irritation but BHA to a lesser extent. Salcylic acid retains the anti inflammatory qualities of it's cousin, acetylsalicylic acid, more commonly know as aspirin.

Both AHAs and BHA increase sun sensitivity by a whopping 50%! Sunscreen is a must when using. Be sure that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen for both UVA and UVB protection. I can't emphasize this enough for WOC. Darker skin is more susceptible to scarring and pigment changes when using AHAs and BHA. Now wouldn't that suck... Spend a lot of time and money to get Gabby Union skin just to turn around and jack it all up by not slapping in some sunscreen... Tsk. Tsk.

In order for AHA's or BHA to be effective, it must be present in the proper percent and the product must be the proper pH. Unfortunately, it is not required for manufactures state the concentration amounts so as a general rule of thumb AHAs should appear within the first three ingredients to be effective. BHA can occur towards the middle or even the bottom since it effective at lower concentrations. Manufactures also don't have to list the pH of products. The only way to determine this is a pH strip but this may be a bit much, lol!

So there ya go... All the basics you need know about AHAs and BHA. Did you learn anything? What are you going to buy now that you have the facts?


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