AHA, BHA, and PHA - What are chemical exfoliants?

Before We Go On

By now there are so many articles about chemical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants can be found in all sorts of skincare products from cleansers to concentrated toner pads. For good reason - chemical exfoliants are great ways to increase the skin cell regeneration process while improving overall skin health. There are three main types of chemical exfoliants that you'll find in the market: AHA's, BHA's, and PHA's. 

AHA's or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (most commonly Glycolic acid, and Lactic acid) 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, naturally found in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. AHA's are ideal for mature and/or dry skin. It stimulates the skin cell regeneration process and exfoliates the skin. You can expect improved cell renewal, pigmentation improvement, and an evener skin tone. It has the ability to lock in moisture which reduces fine lines and gives your skin a radiant look. 

Dr.Althea Products with AHA's:

Citric Acid - Herb Therapy Sheet Mask

Citric Acid - Dr.Althea Ultra Gentle Cleansing Water

BHA's or Beta Hydroxy Acids (most commonly Salicylic acid and other salicylates) 

BHA's can be found in aspirin or white willow trees. This exfoliant is most recommended for oily skin and/or acne-prone skin because of its' ability to dissolve oils in pores without irritating the skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties are ideal for even the most sensitive skin. Like AHA's, BHA's also increases the speed of skin cell regeneration. 


PHA's or Poly Hydroxy Acids (gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid) 

Poly Hydroxy Acids work slowly and gently compared to BHA's and AHA's. This is perfect for those who find chemic exfoliants intimidating or those with highly sensitive skin. If you have a normal skin type and are quite happy with the current state of your skin - working in a PHA would be beneficial as you age to maintain your current skin health. It's also great for rosacea skin as it acts as an antioxidant - protecting your skin from external toxins. Out of all the chemical exfoliants, PHA's are the most moisturizing.

Tips for using chemical exfoliants:

Following chemical exfoliants should be hydrating ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides, Amino Acids, and other NMF ingredients. Lastly, if you are heading out don't forget to layer on sunscreen because your skin will be a little sensitive to the sun after using the exfoliants. 


Next Up: 5 Active Ingredients You'll Want in Your Skincare Routine


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