The ABCs of Skin Care Acids: AHA & BHA

The ABCs of Skin Care Acids: AHA & BHA

AHA and BHA are skin care royalty. You can find these two ingredients on the back of almost every skin care product. Yet, most of us don’t really know what AHA/BHA actually do. All we’re ever told is that they’re good for our skin and that we should be using them everyday. But why? Here at Playful Beautiful, we decided to breakdown these two acids and examine their skin care benefits.


AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acids. The AHA strand usually present in our personal care products is synthetically derived. However, glycoic acid, which is a small strain of AHA, is naturally derived from sugar cane and is present in select skin care products. Other strands of AHA include: lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid. AHA greatly benefits the outer layer of the epidermis. AHA is a water soluble ingredient that hydrates the skin, improves skin texture, and evens out skin tone. AHA also improves signs of aging by decreasing skin degradation and stimulating collagen production.


BHA stands for beta-hydroxy acids. BHAs are derived from Salicin, an ingredient produced in the bark of the Willow Tree. BHA is more commonly known as salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a bacteria fighting ingredient that penetrates the inner layers of the epidermis. BHA targets pores and combats acne thanks to its oil-soluble properties. BHA also exfoliates the skin and has a variety of skin-calming properties that soothes sensitive skin.

AHA/BHA Combined?

AHA and BHA are a great skin care couple, just not together. Combining AHA and BHA can over-exfoliate the skin and cause irritation. Should you decide to use both, we recommend you use one during the day and one at night. If you use AHA or BHA in the morning, be sure to apply sunscreen. If you use AHA or BHA at night, then be sure to avoid using any Vitamin C or A products in the rest of your routine. You can apply these two products after cleansing and toning by starting with the lightest texture. For example, apply the thinnest liquid prior to any lotions and apply the thickest liquid after any essences/serums.

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid.
AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner


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