What Is The Difference Between Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid?

Scrolling through my Insta feed, I’ve been noticing that a lot of people have been posting products with AHA/ BHA / hyaluronic acid. Of course my first reaction is, umm wtf, why would people put acid on their face? And if it is beneficial of burning off skin imperfections, shouldn’t a dermatologist be applying it on my face. So I had to do my research.

So these acids are the ‘new way’ of exfoliating your skin. Physical scrubs are harmful to your skin since a few create tiny cuts on your dermis if used too harshly, if the scrub itself jagged shaped, or if the user doesn’t apply enough water to the skin when using. BHA (Beta Hydrox Acid) isn’t new, it’s also known as salacylic acid. Ya know, the ingredient in your anti-acne product. AHA also isn’t new it’s also known as the glycolic acid.

So what are the benefits of using BHA/ AHA products?

AHA benefits :

normal to dry, sun damaged skin

hydrating and moisturizes the skin

brightens and evens skin tone

can help reduce pigmentation from scarring


BHA benefits :

normal to oily skin (clogged pores, blemishes, etc)

deeply cleans pores and breaks down tiny bumps

also has skin calming properties making it good for sensitive, redness prone skin

reduces inflammation


When using these products, make sure you use sunscreen! Exfoliating the top part of your dermis leaves your skin vulnerable to sun damage. Also, if you wax your face, don’t use these products 2-3 days prior to your wax, as it will leave it irritated.

Below are my top AHA & BHA products:

SUNDAY RILEY Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment


DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Alpha Beta® Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for Sensitive Skin ($88; orig. $102)


Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90)

AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner $17



One thought on “What Is The Difference Between Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid?

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