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What's The Difference Between AHA BHA and PHA in Skincare

picture What's The Difference Between AHA BHA and PHA in Skincare
What's The Difference Between AHA BHA and PHA in Skincare

Have you often heard about AHA, BHA, and PHA in skincare products? These active ingredients are claimed to be powerful in improving your skin appearance. But, did you know what is those ingredients actually?

What's The Difference Between AHA BHA and PHA in Skincare

AHA, BHA and PHA are often included as the main active ingredients in skincare products. Many exfoliants products contain either AHA, BHA, or PHA. You can check the composition of these active ingredients on your exfoliant skincare label or packaging.

The Differences Between AHA, BHA, and PHA

Acid is one of the skincare products' most widely used as an active ingredient. Many associate acids with destructive or harmful chemicals, but that is not always the case.

Acids can be an excellent ingredient to cure skin problems if used with the right concentration. In beauty, industries are divided into AHA, BHA, and PHA. The most commonly used acid in skincare products is AHA and BHA, while PHA is rarely used.

Let's learn the following differences between AHA, PHA, and PHA.

What Is AHA for Skin

AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid is a type of acid derived from plants and animals, and this type of acid is water-soluble. 

The following are several forms of AHA active ingredients in skincare,

  1. Hydroxycaprylic acid is the acid from animals' origin
  2. Hydroxycaproic acid is the acid derived from royal jelly
  3. Glycolic acid is the acid derived from sugar cane
  4. Lactic acid is the acid derived from milk
  5. Citric acid is the acid derived from oranges
  6. Tartaric acid is the acid derived from grapes
  7. Malic acid is the acid derived from apples
  8. Mandelic acid is the acid derived from bitter almonds

In the beauty industries, AHA has many benefits for skin health, including correcting uneven skin tone, removing dead skin cells, preventing clogged pores, regenerating new skin cells, brightening skin tone, clearing acne, and reducing acne marks and acne scars.

In addition, the use of AHA has also proven to be effective in restoring your skin's flexibility and elasticity, counteracting premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, shrinking pores, and promoting collagen and elastin production. Therefore, AHA is great for treating aging signs.

Of the above AHAs, lactic acid and glycolic acid are the most common form of AHA that is often used as active ingredients content in skincare. This is because lactic acid and glycolic acid are proven less irritating yet powerful in improving skin appearance.

According to the research, AHA and its derivatives are active ingredients that have proven safe for the skin. However, the use of AHA concentration is limited to no excess than 10% due to its irritating nature that can harm your skin. Another additional piece of information, the use of AHA will increase your skin sensitivity to sun exposure; therefore, always using sunscreen in the morning and evening is essential.

What Is BHA

BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid is a type of acid derived from cinnamon, wintergreen leaves, or willow bark, and this type of acid is fat-soluble.

BHA is popular with its benefits in curing acne. However, compared to AHA, BHA only contain one active compound, Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid can penetrate the skin layer deeply, regulate sebum production, fight inflammation and remove dead skin cells.

Due to that fact, BHA is suitable for those who have acne-prone skin and get rid of oily skin. In addition, salicylic acid works excellent in preventing blackhead and whitehead formation and reducing inflammation caused by acne.

In some cases, BHA is sometimes also recommended to those who suffer from rosacea because BHA can reduce redness and smoothen skin appearance. However, using BHA to treat rosacea may react differently for every individual.

The best BHA concentration to treat acne is 0.5% to 5 %.  Using higher concentrate than 5% will increase your risk of getting skin irritation.

What Is PHA

PHA or Polyhydroxy Acid is an AHA derivatives compound that works to improve skin appearance by removing dead skin cells and even skin tone.

Compared to AHA and BHA, PHA is less irritating and doesn't increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. In addition, PHA works by exfoliating dead skin cells without causing dryness on the skin. Due to these effects, PHA is suitable to use by people who have sensitive skin toward AHA and BHA usage.

In addition, PHA also contains antioxidants that work to boost collagen production and prevent premature aging.

There are 3 forms of PHA,

  1. Galactose
  2. Lactobionic acids
  3. Gluconolactone

Among those three forms of PHA, Gluconolactone is the most common PHA active ingredient that is often used in skin care products ranging from facial wash, toner, serum, and face creams.

Tips on How To Use AHA, BHA, and PHA

AHA, BHA, and PHA, these three active ingredients, have similar main functions as an exfoliator. This compound also works wonders when mixed together to fight skin problems because they can mutually support each other function and enhance the result faster.

If you want to use AHA, BHA, and PHA as a part of your daily skincare routine, you need to pay attention to the below things to avoid the side effects such as skin irritation.

1. Use according to the recommended concentration

AHA, BHA, and PHA, they are excellent exfoliators. Therefore, always choose the product that contains that active ingredient according to the recommended concentration. The higher concentration, there is more the risk of causing irritation to your skin.

2. Do not use AHA, BHA, and PHA with Retinoids at the same time

AHA, BHA and PHA are exfoliators, and retinoids such as retinol, tretinoin, and adapalene are also strong exfoliators. Therefore, please never use that active ingredient at the same time. Using those ingredients simultaneously will destroy your skin barrier and increase the risk of skin irritation such as burning, itchy and dry skin.

3. Understand what your skin needs

AHA is excellent for tackling aging signs, while BHA is amazing for oily skin and treating acne. Meanwhile, PHA is great for people with sensitive skin. Understanding your skin condition will help the product maximize its function and improve your skin health.

4. Be familiar with other forms' names of the active ingredients

Getting familiar with other names of active ingredients is essential. This is because the skincare packaging often lists active ingredients with different names.

For example, AHA has several forms of active ingredients, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid. And in the packaging label, they will only state the specific forms of AHA names. Therefore, getting familiar with the active ingredients' names is essential.

5. Always use sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from UV rays that can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots.

Exfoliant products such as AHA and BHA will increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight. Therefore, always use sunscreen of at least SPF30 every morning and afternoon to protect your skin.

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