Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Poly hydroxy acid (PHA). You’ve probably seen them when you read about active ingredients in your skincare products. Without fully understanding what they are and what they do for your skin, you may not be able to make informed decisions when you make your next purchase.
In this article, Dr. Gan Lee Ping from Radium Medical Aesthetics explains what these acids in skincare are, what they do and how to use them to treat specific skin conditions.
Common types of acids in skincare
AHA These are chemical exfoliants that are commonly present in foods and fruits. Therefore, they are often called ‘fruit acids’. Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid. These acids are water-soluble and they help to exfoliate dead skin cells and even out skin tone.
AHAs are great for treating dull, dry and ageing skin, giving you a smoother, brighter complexion.
BHA These are derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen leaves, and sweet birch bark. An example of BHA is salicylic acid. BHAs are oil-soluble and can penetrate deep into the pores to clean them thoroughly from within.
It is an effective ingredient to reduce oil production. Hence, it is often used to treat conditions such as oily skin, acne-prone skin, congestions and skin textural issues.
Very often, AHAs can be used together with BHAs to treat stubborn, active acne or people with severe breakouts.
PHA Also known as polyhydroxy aid, it is one of the newest acid that are becoming popular over the past few months. PHA has essentially the same benefits as AHA. However, the molecules of PHA are much larger than AHA and do not penetrate the skin deeply. Therefore, they work better on the outer layer of the skin. As compared to AHA and BHA, they tend to be gentler to the skin. For people who have sensitive skin, including those with eczema and rosacea, PHA is a better alternative if their skin does not tolerate AHA or BHA.
HYALURONIC ACID Commonly referred to as ‘HA’, it is a fantastic skincare ingredient for hydrating the skin and retaining moisture. Despite the word “acid” in its name, HA is actually not an exfoliant. It is, in fact, a clear substance that is naturally produced by the body. Largest amounts of it is found in the skin and connective tissue. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues hydrated and plump.
How to incorporate AHA and BHA into skincare regime
Facial toners are often a missing skincare product missing in your beauty routine. However, it is worth noting that toners are most helpful and necessary for people with oily skin or active acne. Facial toners have come a long way. The newer formulas are no longer harsh and drying for the skin. In fact, many toners are non-drying and pH balanced.
Liberty Skin Refining Toner from Radium Skin contains a blend of AHA and BHA to gently exfoliate the skin and prevent the formation of whiteheads and blackheads.
Toners are great addition to your skincare routine because it is an additional step to remove any residual debris and makeup on your skin. In addition, they help to prep your skin to absorb the serum and moisturisers that you will apply later.
How to incorporate HA into skincare regime
HA can be used with AHA and BHA to hydrate the skin and reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Balance HA Vitamin B5 Moisture Boost is one of the best sellers in Radium Skin. It combines 2 HA molecules with different molecular weights to ensure thorough penetration of the skin. It acts like a topical HA skinboosters for the face, and it is suitable for all skin types.
By adding Vitamin B5 into this lightweight serum, it further enhances the hydrating effect and speeds up skin wound healing and repair.