Alpha Hydroxy Acids v’s Beta Hydroxy Acids

Which is the better?  Alpha Hydroxy Acids v’s Beta Hydroxy Acids.  However do you know what they stand for and which is better?  Ok, let me explain…

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid.

AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits.  They help peel away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may generate and take their place. After use, you’ll likely notice that your skin is smoother to the touch.

On the other hand, BHAs are oil-soluble.  Unlike AHAs, BHAs can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum.

Which acid should you choose?

AHAs are primarily used for:

  • mild hyperpigmentation like age spots, melasma, and scars
  • enlarged pores
  • fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone

Although AHA’s are often marketed as safe for all skin types, you’ll want to take care if you have extremely dry and sensitive skin. You may need to gradually work up to daily use to avoid irritating your skin.

BHA’s, on the other hand, are primarily used for acne and sun damage.  These products go deep into your hair follicles to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells to unclog your pores.

Because of these effects, BHAs are most suitable for combination to oily skin.  Lower concentrations may be used to help calm sensitive skin.  You may also have more success with BHAs if you wanted to reduce rosacea-related redness.

How to use AHA’s

All AHA’s yield significant exfoliation.  Still, the effects and uses can slightly vary between types of acids.  Your selected AHA should have a maximum concentration between 10 and 15 percent.  Apply new products every other day until your skin gets used to them.  This will also reduce the risk of side effects, such as irritation.

No matter which AHA you choose, the strong exfoliating effects make your skin more sensitive to the sun.  Wear sunscreen every morning to prevent burns, age spots, and increased skin cancer risks.


Glycolic acid is the most common type of AHA.  It is also made from a widely available plant: sugar cane.  These natural acids help break down layers of dead skin, encouraging cell turnover and revealing a more youthful-looking skin underneath.  Not only is sugar a gentle physical exfoliant, it is also a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA).

Glycolic acid provides significant exfoliation. This makes it an all-around treatment for many skin concerns.  Iit may even help prevent acne breakouts.


Lactic acid is another common AHA.  Unlike other AHAs made from fruits, lactic acid is made from lactose in milk.

It is also known for its significant exfoliation and anti-aging effects.


Mandelic acid contains larger molecules derived from almond extracts. It can be combined with other AHAs to increase exfoliation.  Used alone, the acid may improve texture and pore size.

How to use BHAs

BHA’s are also designed for daily use, but you may need to apply a few times per week at first until your skin gets accustomed to them.

Although BHA’s don’t make your skin as sensitive to the sun compared to AHA’s, you should still wear sunscreen every single day.

This will help prevent further sun damage.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is the most common BHA.  Concentrations can range between 0.5 and 5 percent, depending on the product at hand. It’s well-known as an acne treatment, but it can also help calm down general redness and inflammation.

Citric acid

While primarily classified as an AHA, some formulations of citric acid are BHAs, too.  Rather than even out your skin’s pH levels, this type of citric acid is primarily used to dry out excess sebum and clean out dead skin cells deep in your pores.

How to combine AHA and BHA products

AHA’s and BHA’s yield fuller skin when used together.  This may be due to increased collagen production, which can make both the dermis and epidermis visibly plumper.

Still, you don’t want to layer AHA’s and BHA’s on top of one another.  These are both exfoliators, so using both can cause dryness and irritation.  You can alternate products by using one type in the morning and the other during your nighttime routine.

The bottom line

AHA’s and BHA’s share similar benefits.  You can obtain some level of exfoliation from each one.  However, each ingredient can be used to achieve different skin care goals.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive anti aging treatment, then an AHA may be the best fit.  A BHA may better suited if you want to calm down inflammation and get rid of acne.

If you still aren’t sure which to choose, talk to your LA Skincare specialist.   They can answer any questions you have and recommend specific ingredients or products to try.

Lots of love

This is all said with love, I know many people have different opinions and that is absolutely fine.  The biggest piece of advice I always say is:

‘Listen to your skin!!’

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  These should not cause any damage to your skin, if used correctly for YOUR skin!

Any questions, just ask…

Much love.

Louisa Ashforth Signature