AHA’s · BHA’s · PHA’s · WTF?!

AHA’s, BHA’s, PHA’s, WTF?!

You’ve probably heard that exfoliating is good for your
skin… or at least we hope so! However, when most people think of
exfoliating they picture a physical exfoliant, such as a scrub. But
there is actually another form of exfoliant: chemical exfoliants!
Specifically AHA’s BHA’s and PHA’s. I know it sounds too
scientific but trust us, you probably know a few of them so don’t
feel overwhelmed!⁣

The one thing these acid types all have in common is that they
are designed to exfoliate the skin, which means they help loosen up
the top layer of dead skin cells and allow new, younger skin cells
to be revealed. Exfoliants like these are absolutely vital to
healthy skin. If you don’t exfoliate 2-3 times a week, dead skin
cells will create a kind of blockade not allowing your products to
penetrate your skin. If you’re not exfoliating, all your skincare
efforts could be going to waste!



AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids, are a group of acids that are
naturally found in fruit, milk, sugarcane etc. It is the “first
generation” of the acids such as glycolic and lactic acid (see I
told you-you would know some). AHA’s can easily penetrate deep
into the skin because of their small molecule size. Due to this,
these acids help to stimulate our skins’ cell regeneration
process, which is perfect for mature skin. They also work well on
dry skin (choose a lactic acid as it will help to lock moisture
into your skin). However, they are most likely going to be too
irritating for someone with sensitive skin.⁣

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Treats pigmentation, sun damage, and evens out the skin
  • Locks in moisture
  • Reduces fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin, and scars
  • Excellent for dry or mature skin
  • Small molecule size to work deeply within the skin


BHA, or Beta Hydroxy Acids, we predominantly use salicylic acid
is the “second generation” of acids. This acid (which can be
found in aspirin!) naturally occurs in the white willow tree and
contains anti-inflammatory properties. BHA’s are fat soluble
which makes it great for oily skin with clogged pores or acne.
BHA’s also have very small molecules so they are able to work
deeply within your skin to help exfoliate and dissolve oil.⁣

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Dissolves oil in the pores
  • Effective treatment against acne and blackheads
  • Anti-inflammatory properties and soothes redness
  • Small molecule size to work deeply within the skin


PHA, or Poly Hydroxy Acids are slow working acids such as
gluconolactone and lactobionic acids. They have large molecules
sizes, and therefore cannot penetrate the skin deeply and only work
on the surface. Some might think, what’s the point of that? There
are actually a few advantages! These mild acids are perfect for all
types of sensitive and/or dry skin conditions such as eczema or
rosacea. In addition to this, PHA’s don’t make the skin more
photo-sensitive, or susceptible to damaging UV rays.⁣

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Locks in plenty of moisture
  • Works like an antioxidant
  • Ideal for sensitive skin and rosacea
  • Large molecule size to work on the surface of the skin

Can you combine?

This is where it gets a bit fuzzy. Generally, yes you can mix
these acids. But we always recommend asking an Esthetician to make
sure you are getting the correct combination of acids that are
right for your skin. A mixture of all three can easily be too
strong for some people.

spf Acids and the sun

It’s always important to use sunscreen every day regardless if
you’re using acids or not. However, it’s especially important
to wear SPF while using acids. The exfoliating effect they have on
skin makes you more “photosensitive” which just mean more prone
to UV damage. You may want to use the bulk of your acids at night
and avoid them when on long sunny vacations.

⁣For More Information:

For more information about chemical exfoliants, please contact
us at ZONA Med
. Or book a complimentary consultation online by
clicking here.

The post AHA’s, BHA’s,
PHA’s, WTF?!
appeared first on ZONA Med Spa.


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