What's the Difference Between AHA vs. BHA Exfoliants?

Ashley Brooks
Ashley Brooks23 Aug 2022
Reviewed and Fact Checked ✔️

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) are water-soluble chemical exfoliants, aiding in removing dead skin cells. Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) are oil-soluble chemical exfoliants, meaning they can penetrate the skin through sebaceous glands. Emphasis on skincare and the many products that exist have seemingly taken over the Internet. Products such as AHAs and BHAs are great ways to exfoliate your face, but you should use them with caution. AHA and BHA are exfoliants.

Talking with your doctor about your skin type and skin goals can help you find the best products and routines. You have discounted doctor’s office and urgent care visits with Mira and even affordable rates on over 1,000 prescriptions. Sign up for Mira today.

What are AHA & BHA

Our skin naturally exfoliates and replaces our dead skin cells daily, but this process can slow down over time due to sun damage and symptoms of aging. Adding a chemical exfoliant, such as AHA’s and BHA’s, to your skincare routine can help maintain this process and keep your skin clear and glowing. 

We spoke with Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Writer for Thank Your Skin, and Frida Pigny, Organic Cosmetic Formulator FRIDASKINCARE, for insight on everything AHA and BHA.

AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acid, and BHA stands for beta-hydroxy acid. Both of these products are great exfoliants for the face and achieve different benefits. As a word of caution, you should these types of products with good sunscreen as they can increase your skin sensitivity to the sun. Listed below are the shared benefits of AHA’s and BHA’s according to Dr. Vergara-Wijangco: 

  1. Decrease inflammation - a key market of acne, rosacea, and other skin concerns
  2. Decrease the appearance of large pores and surface wrinkles
  3. Remove dead skin cells
  4. Unclog pores to prevent acne

Differences Between AHA vs. BHA

While AHA and BHA have some similarities, there are many differences that are important to be aware of. 

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Ashley Brooks

Ashley Brooks works in Healthcare Consulting and graduates with her MPH in September of 2022 from George Washington University, but graduated with her B.S. in Health Science from James Madison University in 2019. Ashley has been with Mira since June of 2021 and shares the passion for creating affordable healthcare coverage for all!

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