Chemical Exfoliants: AHAs, BHAS, and PHAs

Chemical exfoliants are nowadays essential components of every skincare regimen. They have progressed from salon treatments to a skincare craze and now a staple item of a skincare routine. It’s about time treatments of this kind found a place in your vanity. If you are not familiar with what they are, here is a quick breakdown: chemical exfoliants are active acid-based ingredients that regenerate your skin in a less harsh way than a peel or a physical exfoliator.

There are several types chemical exfoliants, each aimed at removing impurities from your skin in a particular way. Chemical exfoliants, which are commonly labeled on products as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), or PHAs (poly hydroxy acids), relieve your complexion of a variety of concerns such as acne, pores, visible signs of aging, and much more.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are only water soluble, hence they only work on the top layers of skin. They are also naturally moisturizing; thus, they are beneficial to both dry and dehydrated skin. They have firming, smoothing, and brightening properties. AHAs are excellent for reducing damage caused by UV rays, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone. Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Malic acid, and Mandelic acid are all examples of AHAs.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs) work very much like AHAs because it loosens the adhesive that binds skin cells. BHAs, unlike AHAs, are oil-soluble, allowing it to penetrate deeper into skin layers and pore linings for a more thorough exfoliation. Moreover, BHAs are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory by nature, consequently offering a calming effect. This is why BHAs are the most recommended for people who have acne-prone or oily skin. Then again, BHAs can assist all skin types because they can treat a range of issues such as milia (Whiteheads), acne, dull skin, blackheads, chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris), rough or bumpy skin, rosacea, and enlarged pores.

Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs) are a newer type of exfoliating acids that are becoming popular through many skin care products. PHAs are the gentlest acid ingredients amongst all three chemical exfoliants due to their bigger molecular structure. They exfoliate the topmost layers of skin in a manner similar to AHAs, removing dirt and dead skin. Despite their milder nature, it is said PHAs are equally effective. Poly hydroxy acids have all the benefits of glycolic acid without the irritation. This is something we would recommend if you have extremely sensitive skin.

It is important to note that if your skin becomes red or irritated and you notice peeling or flaking as a result of over-exfoliation, you know it is time to cut back. Always closely monitor your skin when using either of the three chemical exfoliants and adjust the frequency and use based on how your skin responds.

If you’d like to try out these chemical exfoliants, we suggest you try out DERMAdoctor Ain’t Misbehaving Acne Cleanser once per day, or DERMAdoctor Kakadu C Intensive Peel Pads as a three times per week treatment or DERMAdoctor Physical Chemistry for a bi-weekly physical and chemical exfoliating treatment.

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