AHA VS BHA: Which is the Best Acid for Your Skin

a woman using serum on her face

What are AHA and BHA?

Hydroxy acid types include AHA and BHA. Both face acids come in a variety of types:

  • Cleaners
  • moisturisers
  • Gels
  • Toners
  • scrubs

Both AHA and BHA have the same goal: to exfoliate the skin. The related acids in the skincare products may remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface or perhaps the entire outer layer, depending on the focus. However, there is no such thing as a "better" hydroxy acid. Both of these ways of thorough cleansing are really successful. 

Is there anything they have in common?

AHAs and BHAs are acid for skin that works as exfoliants for the skin. They can all help to reduce inflammation, which is a key indicator of acne, rosacea, and other skin issues. They help in minimising the appearance of big pores and wrinkles on the face. To avoid acne, it removes dead skin cells and opens pores.

What is the difference between AHA and BHA?

Alpha hydroxy acid is abbreviated as AHA. Beta hydroxy acid is abbreviated as BHA. AHA is a sweet fruit-derived water-soluble acid. They aid in the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, allowing new, more coloured skin cells to form and replace them. You'll probably find that your skin is smooth to the touch after using it. BHA, on the other hand, is a fat-dissolving agent. Unlike AHAs, BHAs can remove dead skin cells and excess sebum from deep inside the vein.

What acid should you pick?

AHAs are typically used for the following purposes: Age spots, melasma, and scars are examples of mild hyperpigmentation. Increased pores, fine lines, and creases on the surface

unbalanced skin tone. Although AHAs are frequently touted as being suitable for all skin types, if you have extremely dry or sensitive skin, you should proceed with caution. To avoid irritating your skin, you may need to gradually increase your usage daily.

In contrast, BHAs are generally used to treat acne and UV damage. To unclog your pores, these solutions go deep into your hair follicles to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells. BHAs are best for combination skin to oily skin because of their benefits. To help soothe sensitive skin, lower dosages might be utilised. You might also have a better chance of succeeding.

How to Make the Most of AHAs?

All AHAs emit considerable amounts of carbon dioxide. However, the effects and applications of various acids may differ slightly. The maximum concentration of the AHA you choose should be between 10% and 15%. Apply new products on a daily basis until your skin becomes accustomed to them. This will also lower the chance of unpleasant side effects like irritation.

The intense effects of exfoliating the skin, regardless of whatever AHA you use, make your skin more susceptible to the sun. To avoid burns, age spots, and an increased risk of skin cancer, apply sunscreen every morning.

Glycolic acid

The most frequently used type of AHA is glycolic acid. In addition, it is produced from sugarcane, the most frequent plant. Glycolic acid is a fantastic releasing agent. As a result, it can be used to treat a wide range of skin conditions. It may also help reduce acne outbreaks due to its antibacterial characteristics. Glycolic acid can be found on several anti-acne gels, as well as in other skincare products. Among the most popular choices are: the anti-acne gels by Saturn by GHC.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid is another AHA that is commonly used. Lactic acid is made up of lactose in milk, unlike other fruit-bearing AHAs. It's also renowned for its vital anti-ageing and releasing properties.


Tartaric acid is a kind of AHA and is lesser-known among people. It's made from grape extracts and can aid with UV damage and acne problems.


Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits, as its name suggests. Its primary goal is to lower the pH level of the skin and eradicate blemishes. Before using the ointment, use a serum or toner containing citric acid. It may also be beneficial to use sunscreen to provide additional UV protection. 

Citric acid is primarily classed as an AHA, but it can also be classified as a BHA. This form of citric acid is primarily used to dry up excess sebum and wash dead skin cells from the depths of your pores, regardless of your skin's pH levels.


Malic acid is an AHA-BHA crossover substance. Apple acid is used to make it. Malic acid is less effective as a single component than other AHAs. However, you may discover that it improves the effectiveness of some acids.


Mandelic acid is made up of big compounds present in almonds that have been removed. It can be used in regard to other AHAs to boost exfoliation. When applied alone, the acid can help with pore texture and size.

BHAs are designed to be used in a variety of ways. You can use them on a daily basis, but you may need to use them a few times a week at first until your skin adjusts. Despite the fact that BHA does not make your skin as photosensitive as AHAs, you should still use sunscreen every day. This will assist in the prevention of further solar damage.

Salicylic acid 

The most prevalent BHA is salicylic acid. Depending on the product nearby, the concentration can range from 0.5 to 5%. It is commonly used to treat acne, but it can also be used to reduce normal redness and irritation.

How to use AHA and BHA products together?

According to a 2009 study, combining AHAs and BHAs results in fuller skin. This could be attributed to an increase in collagen production, which can plump up the dermis and epidermis. You don't want to put AHAs and BHAs on top of one other, though. Because these are both exfoliators, they can produce dryness and irritation if used together. On alternate days, you could utilise AHAs and BHAs. If you're using AHA-containing at-home chemical peels, this procedure works great. Another option is to utilise these acids selectively on specific areas of your face. If you have combination skin, for example, you can use an AHA on dry regions and a BHA on oily areas.

You can switch items in the morning and at night by using one type in the morning and the other at night. On alternate days, you can utilise AHAs and BHAs. If you utilise AHA-containing home chemical peels, this method works best. Another option is to apply these acids exclusively to specific regions of your face. If you have oily skin, for example, you can apply AHA on dry regions and BHA on oily ones.

Take Away

The advantages of AHA and BHA are the same. Each of them has a different level of exfoliation. Each ingredient, on the other hand, can be used to achieve a variety of skincare objectives. If you're seeking a complete anti-ageing solution, the AHA may be the best option. If you want to reduce inflammation and get rid of acne, BHA might be the way to go.

Consult your dermatologist if you're unsure about which option to chose. They can answer any questions you have and make suggestions for specific components or products to try.