What do AHA and BHA mean in skincare? Why is it important to consider it?


In the past few decades, the skincare industry has transformed and morphed into a field that can not only make your skin look younger but can entirely improve the texture of your skin. Technological and medical advancements have helped skincare companies to come up with better and more convenient methods to serve their clients. 


 If you are a skincare buff, you might've come across the terms AHA and BHA quite often. Experts throw in these terms to explain how your skincare products can enhance your skin and make it look younger.

But what are AHAs and BHAs? What are they made of? How do they exactly improve your skin? These questions kept bothering me, so I started my research. And what I found really intrigued me.

Are these questions bothering you too? Well, we have the answers for you. Here is a detailed explanation of what AHAs and BHAs are and why they are important.  

What are AHAs and BHAs? 

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are the two types of hydroxy acids that are majoritively used to exfoliate the skin. With varying concentrations of both, skincare experts use these hydroxy acids to remove dead skins or the entire outermost layer of the skin. 


You can find these two types of acids in most skincare products, like toners, cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers, peels, and masks. In addition, more and more healthcare companies are seeing the heightened benefits of these hydroxy acids and have started to incorporate them into their products. 

While skincare experts are still in intense debates regarding which one is better, these acids are highly effective in deep exfoliation and can be used for different applications. Let's understand the essential difference between the two:


Alpha-hydroxy acids are water-soluble acids that come from fruits packed with sugar. They are most commonly made from substances like milk, almonds, sugarcane, or grapes. 

Their basic property lies in their ability to efficiently peel away the surface of your skin, which allows new and evenly pigmented skin cells to generate. As a result, you can achieve smoother and radiant skin. 

Five of the major AHAs include:

  • Citric acid: Extracted from citrus fruits, which can neutralize skin's pH levels
  • Glycolic acid: Produced from sugarcane which can provide significant exfoliation 
  • Malic acid: Made from apple acids which enhance the effects of other acids 
  • Lactic acid: A product from the lactose present in milk that has excellent anti-ageing effects 
  • Tartaric acid: Made from grape extracts that can help you alleviate signs of acne and sun damage. 

Skincare experts use AHAs to treat skin conditions like acne, melasma, hyperpigmentation, scars, roughness, seborrhea, and roughness. 

While selecting an AHA strong product, make sure that the maximum concentration of the hydroxy acid remains between 10 to 15 percent. Start using it gradually in the first place to get your skin accustomed to the product, which can reduce the risk of side effects. They should also be used under proper guidance as AHAs can make your skin sensitive to the sun.


Beta-hydroxy acids are basically oil-soluble acids. Contrary to AHAs' properties of peeling the skin, BHAs allows you to go deeper into the pores of your skin. This allows you to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. It can also help you reduce wrinkles on your skin and fine lines that can substantially improve your skin's overall texture. BHAs also have heightened anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. 

The most common BHA used by skincare experts is salicylic acids. It is a well-known acne treatment agent that can also calm down inflammation. 

BHAs applications differ from that of AHAs as they are more commonly used to recover sun damage. Skincare experts also use it to dry out excess dead skins and oils that are accumulated into your hair follicles. 

These hydroxy acids are designed to be used on a daily basis. The ideal concentration that you should aim for should be between 0.5 to 5 percent. Unlike AHAs, they don't make your skin very sensitive to the sun. However, you should still apply sunblock. 

Why are they important?

The invention of these two hydroxy acids has been revolutionary in the field of skincare. They provide you the ability to improve your skin texture and achieve more radiant skin exponentially. They also allow you to customize skincare products to best suit your skin type personally. 

However, the true potential of these hydroxy acids can be observed when they are used together. When AHA and BHA are combined, they can increase the collagen production on your skin.

With the combined properties of AHA and BHA, you can provide your skin a deep-rooted cleansing that assures naturally enhanced skin. As a result, it helps you achieve more fuller and refined skin, which provides you a younger look. 

A common strategy used by skincare experts is to use them on alternative days. You can apply AHA products on the odd days and BHA products on the even (you can leave Sundays for a bit of hiatus). 

In conclusion, using AHAs and BHAs can exponentially help you improve your skin and make it look more radiant and younger. Not only can you clean your deep pores, but you can also peel dead skins and acne from the outer layer of your skin. 

It would be advisable that you approach a dermatologist before incorporating them in your skincare, as they can help you figure out your skin texture and which hydroxy acids to use.