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AHA & BHA Deep Dive (BYO Snorkel)

What are AHAs and BHAs?

AHA is the acronym given to Alpha Hydroxy Acid and BHA is the acronym for Beta Hydoxy Acid. AHAs include Mandelic, Lactic and Glycolic Acid, while the most common BHA you will find is Salicylic Acid. Sounds scary? Nahhhh, we love acids for helping us achieve fresh, smooth, glowy skin because these guys are pros at gently exfoliating away dead skin, excess sebum (oil) and dirt.


What do they do for your skin?

Incorporating AHAs and/or BHAs into your skincare routine can help reduce the occurrence of blemishes and improve skin texture by working on the skin's surface or deep within the pores to exfoliate your skin. This is why they’re known as chemical exfoliants. These acids work to remove dead skin cells which improves skin texture while also combatting blemishes and fine lines. The effect on the skin will depend on a few factors, including the type of acid, its strength and your skin’s acid preference.


How are they different to physical exfoliants?

Chemical exfoliants are more customisable in their strength than physical exfoliants (such as scrubs). You can use a milder chemical exfoliant and leave it on the skin, or you can go full out and use a stronger chemical exfoliant and only leave it on the skin for only a short period of time before rinsing. It’s important to remember it is easy to overdo both chemical and physical exfoliants, and yes, sometimes we do love the feeling of giving our skin a good scrub, BUT if used in the correct way chemical exfoliants can give you a more thorough exfoliation with less risk of damage to your skin.


OK, so how can I layer acids in my routine?

Why, thank you for asking! We recommend applying acids straight after cleansing, before your chosen serums. Reason being, you want to exfoliate away the not so good stuff before you apply the very good stuff (AKA serums, hydrators, etc.). Salicylic Acid (BHA) can be applied AM or PM, but we recommend only applying AHAs at night-time to avoid additional sun sensitivity.


Any other tips for incorporating acids into my routine?

Start slow! Start with applying one to two days a week and see how your skin reacts, then work your way up to a frequency that suits you. Moisturise well after using any acids and always use sunscreen in the AM (but we know you’re already doing that). If you have very sensitive skin, we recommend the Moisture Sandwich technique. This is where you apply a thin layer of moisturiser BEFORE applying your acid, apply the acid and then follow with another layer of moisturiser.


I’m ready! Which acid is best for me? AHA or BHA?

Woohoo! AHAs work to increase the shedding of dead cells on the skin's surface. We recommend AHAs for dry to normal skin types. AHAs also promote collagen production, making them the acid of choice for mature skin. Mandelic Acid is the more gentle form of AHA followed by Lactic Acid and then the big boy, Glycolic Acid (fav!). BHAs are oil-soluble, meaning they can get further down into your pores for a deeper exfoliation. BHAs such as Salicylic Acid work really well for those with combination or oily skin, or anyone prone to blemishes and clogged or enlarged pores. Have a play and tell us which acid (or two!) is your most beloved.


Any final tips?

  1. You can apply acids on your chest, back, or anywhere else you may be struggling with some acne. As always, start slow and moisturiser well afterwards!
  2. Acids can help balance underarm bacteria, reducing that BO stank. You heard it here first, just in time for Summer!
  3. Apply acids to the body to avoid ingrown hairs. Moisturise well (ICYMI before).
  4. There is no right or wrong acid to use. See how your skin likes the acid(s) you choose and remember YMMV.
  5. Check out our acids in our Active Range. Just in time for Christmas!