The One Skincare Ingredient That Can Change Your Skin Forever

Do you know your AHAs from your BHAs? Or are you confused already? We’re talking Alpha Hydroxy Acids here, versus Beta Hydroxy Acids. You with us yet? Well that’s OK, we’re here to help you understand them, and by doing that, unlock the key to your best skin yet. They really make a difference, and can change your skin forever, but only if you know how to use them.

Intrigued? Of course you are. So to give you the 101 on how acids can help you get the best skin ever (and maintain it), we chatted to Derya Koch, dermal clinician at the Victorian Dermal Group to explain it in more detail. “Skin exfoliation is achieved by either chemical or physical means. Chemical Face Peel exfoliation is achieved by using either Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). Physical exfoliation is the use of Skin scrubs.” And there will be more about them another time.


“A simple comparison between AHAs and BHAs is simply that BHAs are primarily oil soluble,” says Derya. “Meaning they work on the oil phases of the skin that cause acne and congestion and are also ideal for thickened skins due to external environmental factors. Alpha hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are hydrophilic (water soluble) used in product formulations to facilitate an increase in cell turnover, and for their antioxidant and hydrating properties.”

Within the AHA family there are a couple of different types you may have heard of, glycolic, lactic and fruit acids. So we asked Derya to explain them, too. “Glycolic acid is great for congested, damaged or neglected skins,” she says. “Lactic acid is sourced from milk and is a light exfoliating and hydrating acid, it is safe to use on all skin types and colours. Lactic acid is suitable for compromised, sensitive and dry skin conditions aiding in Skin Treatment, strengthening and skin hydration.” Lastly, fruit acids, and they “are used for their antioxidant and exfoliating properties,” says Derya. “They can be used on many different skin types and conditions,” she adds.

Within the BHA family, there lies the one acid, salicylic acid. “This is a great ingredient for oiler skin types, non-inflammatory acne and thickened skin conditions.” Why? Because Beta Hydroxy Acid is able to actually penetrate the pore, due to being oil soluble (as mentioned above), so it can clean out inside the pore.

Just be aware, as like the treatment and prevention of pigmentation, when using these acids, you must wear a minimum of spf 30 sunscreen as they can cause your skin to be more sun sensitive.

So, now you know your AHAs from your BHAs, scroll down for our favourite products containing these wonder acids. We’ve honed in on products with a higher percentage of actives, but remember, it’s always best to consult your dermatologist or beauty therapist before trying.

by Laura Wilson 26/5/14 at