AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are acids, just as the name implies. They are derived from things like fruits, milk, sugar cane and other natural sources. They work by exfoliating dead skin cells, thus revealing glowing, fresher skin underneath. They also help to speed up cell turnover, increasing the production of collagen, which helps to reduce fine lines, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation.
What’s the difference between and Alpha Hydroxy Acid and a Beta Hydroxy Acid?
The main difference is their lipid (oil) solubility. AHAs are water soluble only, whereas BHA is oil soluble. That means a BHA is able to penetrate into pores that contain sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells that are built up inside the pore. That’s why BHAs are recommended for people with acne, blackheads and whiteheads.
Where do AHAs and BHAs come from?
There are several kinds of AHAs:
- Glycolic (from sugar cane)
- Lactic (from milk)
- Malic (from apples)
- Citric (from citrus fruits)
- Tartaric (from grapes)
Glycolic has the smallest molecular size and penetrates the skin most easily, so it’s used more often than some of the other AHAs. We use glycolic acid in our AHA Creme, AHA Scrub, and our Glycolic & Rose Masque.
There are lots of different AHAs but only one BHA, salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is derived from acetylsalicylic acid or aspirin. That’s why you may have heard to crush up an aspirin and place it on a pimple from your friends. However, you may find that in doing that you’ll irritate you skin even more because BHA can cause skin inflammation if not used with caution. Black willowbark is a natural form of salicylic acid and the type we use in our products. We use it in our Clarifying Serum, Hydra Creme & Clarifying Astringent.
AHAs and BHAs are both amazing ingredients that can help improve your skin, but you do need to be aware that AHAs in particular make you more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen when using them.