What's the difference between AHA and BHA acid?

Acids are a popular ingredient that comes in different forms and can be combined in different ways. The guideline is usually not to mix acids from different brands as different acids work in different ways on the skin. The products can often have different pH values ​​which, among other things, control how powerful or mild a product is.

The pH value is an important factor when it comes to the acid's effect on the skin and therefore they should not be mixed from different brands in order for them to maintain their concentration, the right pH value and to be able to get the right effect.

Sometimes it happens that two or more acids are also present together in the same product in the same brand and then they can strengthen each other's properties.

What is AHA Acid?

AHA acid is a water-soluble acid that has the collective name Alpha hydroxy acid.

These acids are extracted through fruits, milk and sugar cane and there are different kinds of acids that work different depths and powerfully into the skin. AHA acid exfoliates the skin and accelerates the skin's cell renewal. Because this acid is water-soluble, it does not have as dehydrating effect on the skin as a BHA acid, but it softens and works well on the structure.

Who is AHA acid suitable for?

The acid is mainly suitable for a skin that wants to work on lines and wrinkles, reduce scars and uneven skin structure and get radiance in the skin. The acid is also good for working on visible pigmentation and for maintaining an even clear skin tone.

Within AHA acids, there are a number of different acids that have different sized molecular sizes and can penetrate different depths into the skin and thus work differently. It is an advantage that there are different acids to make it easier to find the right acid for your particular skin type and skin condition.

The one with the smallest molecule size can work deepest into the skin while the one with the larger molecule size works more superficially and is not a little powerful, which suits a sensitive skin better.

Glycolic Acid has the reduced molecule of all AHA acids and is thus the more powerful variant that can penetrate deeper into the skin. The glycolic acid is produced via sugar cane and can also be produced synthetically. This acid works well on structure, lines and wrinkles by effectively removing dead skin cells and increasing cell renewal. It is also suitable for someone who wants to work on pigmentation and also acne. It is also good for thickening the stratum corneum on the skin which can be caused by excessive sun exposure and is otherwise called actinic keratosis.

COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid is a liquid exfoliation that contains glycolic acid which effectively exfoliates the skin and contributes to a clearer skin tone and works fine on lines while moisturizing thanks to the hyaluronic acid in the product. The product is allergy-friendly and dermatologically tested. It is also free of parabens, sulphates, alcohol, mineral oils and essential oils. The product is completely vegan and does not contain any artificial fragrances.

Lactic Acid This acid is produced from acidic dairy products such as yogurt and cheese but also fermented vegetables and fruits and is milder than the previous glycolic acid. Lactic acid belongs to a group called NMF, which is an abbreviation for natural moisturizing factors. It can simply be said that it is a group of substances that have an ability to bind water in the skin and moisture. Another known one is the hyaluronic acid that many people know.

Lactic acid has emollient properties, evens out the skin and works well on pigmentation. The acid also works on lines and also has antibacterial properties.

Tartaric acid occurs mainly in unripe grapes and bananas but is also found in other fruits and berries. It has an exfoliating effect on the skin surface.

Citric Acid This acid, as the name suggests, is found mainly in citrus fruits. It is a good antioxidant that works well on pigmentations and has an astringent effect. It also works as a natural preservative, and is found in many skin care products but often further down the list of ingredients.

Malic Acid This acid has a larger molecular size than before and is more suitable for more sensitive skin types. The acid is found in many fruits and vegetables and penetrates the skin more slowly, which contributes to less risk of irritation.

Mandelic Acid The acid is produced from bitter almonds and also has a larger molecular size as malic acid, which is suitable for more sensitive skin types. The mandelic acid has antibacterial properties and is also suitable for acne-prone skin. It is also good for treating dry skin and also working on pigmentation and wrinkles.

By wishtrends Mandelic acid 5% skin prep water is an exfoliation that contains just mandelic acid and which gently exfoliates the skin at the same time as it provides hydration and a nice glow. It is also good for uneven skin tone and to soothe acne and ongoing inflammation of the skin.

What is BHA acid?

BHA acid has the collective name beta hydroxy acid and is a fat-soluble acid. This means that this acid can thus penetrate deeper into the skin and pores and more easily dissolves sebum and dead skin cells. This is suitable for oily skin that may experience problems with clogged pores and acne. The acid also has larger molecules than the Glycolic acid, so even if it works deeper into the skin, there is less risk of irritation than the previous AHA acid. The acid gives no moisture at all but has a drying effect on the skin unlike the AHA acid which otherwise moisturizes.

Salicylic acid
is the name you usually hear when talking about BHA acid and is a popular ingredient in many products that are aimed at deep cleansing and keeping the skin in balance. The acid also has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces inflammation in the skin and can thus soothe active blemishes in the skin but also prevent new inflammations and outbreaks from occurring.

Who is BHA acid suitable for?


BHA is suitable if you want to work on impurities such as blackheads and blemishes.

We all have pores and are, among other things, good for us to be able to regulate heat and cold so that our skin can breathe. It also protects us from bacteria and lots of other good things. But sometimes you can experience discomfort as if they have become clogged.

A comedone in other words called "blackhead mask" is a pore that has become clogged with sebum, dirt and old skin cells. When the sebum comes in contact with the oxygen in the air, there is an oxidation which contributes to the melanin in the sebum that turns black. This is usually called a black blackhead and when the exit is clogged, a small plug is formed.

A white blackhead is a closed comedone that sits further down in the skin than the black ones. They are then called white blackheads because they have not come into contact with oxygen and thus not oxidized as the blacks have done.

Salicylic acid is then a real hero as an ingredient as it helps to "clean" and remove the contents. The acid also works well on the structure of the skin and is also good for pigmentation. Both AHA and BHA acid work on lines and wrinkles, but the differences are that because AHA is water-soluble, it works more superficially than BHA acid and has more moisturizing properties than the oil-soluble acid.

COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is an exfoliating peel that contains natural BHA (salix alba water) from the willow tree that effectively reduces and prevents the appearance of acne and blackheads. It has a short list of ingredients and is allergy-friendly and dermatologically tested. The product is also free of parabens, sulphates, alcohol, mineral oils and essential oils. It also does not contain any artificial fragrances, and this product is also completely vegan.

You may also experience that you have enlarged pores. This is partly an effect of our aging and that the skin then loses its elasticity, but also smoking and free radicals have an effect.

A good product to test if you experience that you have both enlarged pores and blackheads is COSRX AHA / BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. This exfoliating toner contains both AHA acid (glycolic acid) and natural bha (salix alba water) from the willow tree and effectively removes old skin cells and excess sebum while increasing the vitality of the skin. This exfoliation is also allergy-friendly and dermatologically tested. It is free of parabens, sulfates, alcohol, mineral oils and essential oils. It contains no artificial fragrances and is completely vegan.

It is good to add that you always make sure to add moisture to your routine, regardless of whether you feel that you have an imbalance with clogging in the skin. Moisture is very important, because if the skin gets good with moisture, it can also be better absorbed by other substances and ingredients. So putting an extra moisturizing mask to boost the skin at some point in the week is never wrong. Using a moisturizing toner after applying your acid is also an advantage.

Klairs supple preparation is a moisturizing toner that restores the skin's pH balance. It contains amino acids that reduce irritation and provide deep hydration to the skin.

Hope you like this post, and do not forget that we are on our chat, DM on instagram and on info@glowid.se to answer your questions and thoughts!

/ Lisa, Dermatologist at GLOWiD

1 comment

Hur funkar det med syror i en toner? Man säger att man ska vara försiktig och bara ha syror runt 2-3 ggr/veckan men ska man inte ha en toner varje dag? Jag är intresserad av den men behöver en toner för extra fukt men känns farligt med denna varje dag i veckan…

Li Sjöstrand December 28, 2021

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