AHA vs BHA: Which One Is Right for Your Skin Type?

If you are interested in skincare, you have probably heard of AHA and BHA. These are two types of acids that are commonly used in skincare products to exfoliate and improve the skin. But what are they exactly, and how do they differ from each other? More importantly, how do you know which one is right for your skin type? In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about AHA and BHA, and help you choose the best one for your skin.


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What are AHA and BHA?

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, and BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. They are both chemical exfoliants, which means they dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells and help them shed off. This reveals a smoother, brighter, and more even skin tone underneath.

However, AHA and BHA have different structures and functions on the skin. AHA is water-soluble, which means it can only work on the surface of the skin. BHA is oil-soluble, which means it can penetrate deeper into the pores and dissolve the oil and dirt that clog them.

Some of the most common types of AHA are glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid. Some of the most common types of BHA are salicylic acid and willow bark extract.


Benefits of AHA

AHA has many benefits for the skin, such as:

  • Exfoliating dead skin cells and improving skin texture and tone
  • Reducing signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots
  • Brightening the complexion and fading hyperpigmentation
  • Hydrating and plumping the skin
  • Stimulating collagen production and increasing skin elasticity


Benefits of BHA

BHA also has many benefits for the skin, such as:

  • Unclogging pores and preventing blackheads and whiteheads
  • Reducing inflammation and redness
  • Fighting acne and blemishes
  • Smoothing rough and bumpy skin
  • Regulating sebum production and balancing oily skin


How to Choose Between AHA and BHA

The best way to choose between AHA and BHA is to consider your skin type and your skin concerns. Here are some general guidelines:

  • If you have dry, dull, or mature skin, you may benefit more from AHA, as it can help hydrate and rejuvenate your skin.
  • If you have oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin, you may benefit more from BHA, as it can help control excess oil and calm your skin.
  • If you have combination or normal skin, you may be able to use both AHA and BHA, depending on your skin concerns and goals. You can also alternate between them or use them together in different products or areas of your face.


Tips for Using AHA and BHA

AHA and BHA are powerful acids that can improve your skin’s appearance and health. However, they can also cause irritation, dryness, or sensitivity if used incorrectly. Here are some tips on how to use AHA and BHA safely and effectively:

  • Start with a low concentration (around 5% or less) and frequency (once or twice a week) of use, and gradually increase as your skin tolerates it.
  • Always patch test a new product before applying it to your face. Apply a small amount on your inner arm or behind your ear, and wait for 24 hours to see if there is any reaction.
  • Apply AHA and BHA after cleansing and toning your skin, and before moisturizing and applying sunscreen. Use a cotton pad or your fingers to gently spread the product over your face, avoiding the eye area.
  • Avoid using other products that contain harsh or irritating ingredients, such as alcohol, retinol, or vitamin C, when using AHA or BHA. These can cause over-exfoliation or adverse reactions on your skin.
  • Wear sunscreen every day when using AHA or BHA, as they can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30.



AHA and BHA are both powerful acids that can improve your skin’s appearance and health. However, they have different effects and suit different skin types. By knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each one, you can choose the best one for your skin type. Or better yet, you can experiment with both and see what works best for you. Remember to use them with caution and care, and always protect your skin from the sun.