You have probably heard that exfoliants are good for your skin and you may recognise the following acronyms; AHA, BHA and PHA. But what do they really mean and what do these acids (yes, they are all acids) do for your skin? And most importantly of all, which one is best for you?
The one thing these acid types all have in common is that they are designed to exfoliate the skin, which means they help loosen up the top layer of dead skin cells - these cells are ready to fall off on their own but can be gently removed in order to make way for new, younger skin cells. This results in the skin taking on a more even surface and a healthier appearance - we refer to this as radiance or glow. Let us take a more in-depth look into these different kinds of acids!
AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids that are naturally found in fruit, milk, sugarcane etc. AHA exfoliates on different degrees, where glycolic acid is the most powerful. It helps to stimulate our skins’ cell regeneration process, which is perfect for mature skin because the cell renewal process is slower than in more youthful skin. This exfoliating effect helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as work on pigmentation deep within the skin. It also works well on dry skin - choose a lactic acid as it will help to lock moisture into your skin. Mandelic acid is also a part of this group, and with its anti inflammatory properties it makes it great for more sensitive skin or people suffering with acne.
- Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
- Treats pigmentation, sun damage and evens out the skin tone
- Locks in moisture and gives radiance
- Reduces fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin and scars
- Excellent for dry or mature skin
BHA, or Beta Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids, and within skin care we predominantly use salicylic acid. This acid (which can be found in aspirin!) naturally occurs in the white willow tree (salix alba) and contains anti inflammatory properties. It is also fat soluble which makes it great for oily skin with blocked pores, or inflamed acne. Salicylic acid works its way deep into the pores and dissolves sebum, which in turn improves the condition of the pores. Mature skin with fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage can also benefit well from BHA.
- Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
- Dissolves oil in the pores
- Effective treatment against acne and blackheads
- Anti-inflammatory properties and soothes redness
PHA, or Poly Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids that work their magic slowly, which is great for sensitive skin that is prone to irritation and redness which can come from using AHA. PHA has a larger molecular structure than AHA, which means it penetrates the skin more slowly and therefore doesn’t exfoliate as powerfully as acids with a smaller molecular structure. These mild acids are perfect for all types of sensitive and/or dry skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea. Mature skin can also benefit from the antioxidant properties which protect the skin's’ collagen from breaking down. Examples of PHA in the skin care world is gluconolactone och lactobionic acid.
- Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
- Locks in plenty of moisture
- Works like an antioxidant
- Ideal for sensitive skin and rosacea
CAN I COMBINE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ACIDS?
Generally it is possible to combine acids, but you should always check with a skin care therapist to make sure that you get the right combination for your skin type, and that the products you buy do not clash with each other due to the pH values, or that the mixture would be too strong for your skin. Normally you can mix products from the same brand without issue but it is well worth double checking to make sure you get the best possible outcome for your skin.
ACIDS AND THE SUN
It is always smart to use a high SPF as the final step in your morning skin care routine to help protect against early signs of ageing and sun damage, but it is vital when using acids! The exfoliating effect they have on your skin can make it more sensitive to the sun. You should also be careful with acids when you know you will be exposed to the sun for extended periods, so it is wise to use them in the evenings or completely avoid them during your holidays in the sun. But most importantly - don’t forget your sunscreen!
WELCOME TO THE SKIN GUIDE!
This is the place where you’ll find information about everything associated with the skin and skincare. Learn more about the characteristics of different skin types and skin conditions to find products that best suit your needs. Our skin therapists will guide you through the jungle of skincare and share their best tips and advice. To get personalized product recommendations, we suggest that you take our free skin test.
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