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AHA vs BHA vs PHA: What's The Difference?

We are here to break down the difference between these three acids for you…

A woman relaxing with a facemask

You have probably seen these three letter acids popping up here and there, whether it’s in a magazine, social media or on a product you’ve been using. You have more than likely stopped and thought to yourself what is that and what does it mean? Worry not, we are here to break down the difference between these three acidsexplaining what they are, what they do and their benefits…

What Are AHAs and What Do They Do?

AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid 


AHAs are a way of gently chemically exfoliating the skins surface to remove dead skin cells. They are water-soluble and made from sugary fruits, working to smooth the skin revealing a more youthful complexion.  


What Are The Benefits? 

  • Smoother skin 
  • Reduces appearance of wrinkles 
  • Helps with pigmentation  
  • Evens out skin tone 
  • Radiant and brighter skin complexion 

The most popular types of AHAs found in skincare products are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid.  

What Are BHAs and What Do They Do?

BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid 


BHAs are oilsoluble, unlike AHAs which are water-soluble. This means BHAs can penetrate deeper into the skin, with the ability to unclog pores and breakdown build-up. BHAs work great for treating acne-prone skin as they have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and help clear blemishes.  


What Are The Benefits? 

  • Reduces appearance of blemishes 
  • Calms redness 
  • Unclogs pores 
  • Helps with blackheads 

The most common form of BHA is Salicylic Acid which is often found in many skincare products to help combat clogged pores, blackheads and oily skin. 

What Are PHAs and What Do They Do?

PHA or Polyhydroxy Acid 


PHAs similar to AHAs work to exfoliate the surface of the skin, although they are just as effective as AHAs the main difference is that they have fewer sensitising side-effects. PHAs are a great alternative to AHAs for people with sensitive skin as they remove dead skin cells, revealing smoother skin without irritation.  


What Are The Benefits?  

  • Smooths skin without irritation 
  • Helps with texture 
  • Evens skin tone 
  • Retains moisture 
  • Helps strengthen skins barrier 

Let’s summarise… 

All three are a great way of chemically exfoliating and have their own individual benefits. Many skincare products contain a mixture of AHA, BHA and PHA to help reap the benefits of each acid and help target a variation of concerns. 

When it comes to acids it is always best to patch test prior to using the product on your skin, just to ensure the product doesn’t cause a reaction or sensitivity. Some chemical exfoliant acids are safe to use daily but it is best to check the products recommended use. Finally, always be sure after using acids to follow with an SPF to protect your skin, as acids make the skin more vulnerable to sun damage 


DISCLAIMER: We always aim to credit the original source of every image we include in our content. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please get in touch at marketing@cohorted.co.uk.

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