ABC of Acid toners Part 2 : Hydroxy Acids BHAs and PHAs

In continuation from part 1, we are going to talk about other Hydroxy Acids BHAs and PHAs as well as the differences between them, if you missed Part 1, please catch-up here.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)  

BHAs function and perform like AHAs, but because they are oil soluble are able to dissolve sebum (oil), penetrate and clear follicles of excess debris. This means it is able to work on the surface as well as underneath your skin. BHAs are particularly useful for treating inflammatory acne like blackheads, whiteheads which caused by blocked pores but should not be used for hormonal acne. In addition to penetrating pores and follicles, BHAs reduce texture on the skin by loosening the upper layers of skin. BHA exfoliants need to be formulated at a pH between 3 and 4 and at a concentration ranging from 1-4% to be most effective and concentrations.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is the BHA used for skincare and is derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen oil and sweet birch and because of its lipophilic nature is recommended for oily and combination skin. It also tends to be less irritating for some skin types and may be an alternative for people who do not tolerate AHAs. It is best used in concentrations below 5% with 2% as the optimum for most people without causing irritation. In addition to diminishing the look of lines and wrinkles, it makes skin look and feels firmer as well as reducing the hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Unlike AHAs, it has soothing properties which help reduce redness—and is gentle enough for skin prone to rosacea or milia. Because of its ability to work on comedones is more effective at lower concentrations than AHAs.

Here are some BHA products you can try, personally, I  love Paula’s choice 2% BHA liquid 

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice-RESIST Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with 2% BHA Exfoliant
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Paulas Choice–Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid

Who it works best for

BHAs work best for people with acne prone oily skin due to its ability to penetrate pores and is also suitable for people with sensitive skin and sun damage as it is less irritating than AHAs

The differences between AHA and BHA

  • The difference main difference between AHAs and BHAs is their solubility. AHAs are water soluble while BHAs are oil soluble.
  • BHAs penetrate much deeper and so are able to clear clogged pores while AHAs work on the surface of the skin while
  • AHAs increase sun sensitivity whereas BHAs do not, so the skin is more prone to sun damage after using AHAs

Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA)  

These are regarded as second generation alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which work like  AHAs by breaking down the ‘glue’ that holds dead cells to the skin. Because PHAs have larger molecules they do not penetrate skin as deeply as traditional AHAs and BHAs. So they work solely on the surface of the skin, increase sun tolerance and ensuring optimum renewal with minimal irritation.PHAs are reputed to slow down the signs of cosmetic ageing by reducing glycation (“sugar face”) and chelating extra iron in the skin. Their rich antioxidants and humectant properties stimulate epidermal repair and keeping skin well hydrated.  Regular use of  PHAs strengthens barrier function, making the skin more resilient over time providing a healthy glow.

Types of Poly Hydroxy Acids(PHA)

Gluconolactone

This is the most common PHAs as it exfoliates and improves the texture of skin, reduces the look lines  Because Gluconolactone occurs naturally in human cells, it does not cause irritation when applied to the skin and triggers cellular regeneration which is helpful in correcting pigmentation. In addition gluconolactone’s exfoliating properties it accelerates the skin-shedding process, ensuring darkened cells are efficiently dissolved to reveal a brighter, clearer complexion. Gluconolactone is a ‘’water hungry ‘’ molecule and absorbs moisture from the air forming a barrier to prevent the moisture from evaporating softening dry skin. There is some evidence which suggests it has mild anti-bacterial properties so may be useful in treating acne.

Lactobionic acid

Is a mild exfoliant derived from plant extracts and resurfaces skin without causing irritation or redness making it suitable for sensitive skin due to bio-availability. Like AHAs Lactobionic acid increases cellular turnover, ensuring that dead skin cells do not build up on the surface of the skin and reduces the appearance of scars & pigmentation caused by exposure to UV rays. It is also a humectant keeping skin hydrated reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Who it works best for

PHAs are compatible for people with sensitive skin, including rosacea and atopic dermatitis due to their anti-inflammatory benefits as well as those who find other acids too strong.

PHA products

COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum
COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum
COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
COSRX PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
Make p:rem peel me. radiance peeling sleeping pack
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
P:rem Radiance Peeling Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
NeoStrata SKIN ACTIVE Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum

Here is an in-depth look at the different types of hydroxy acids, their benefits and disadvantages and the skin conditions and types they work for as well as examples of products in each category. Which of BHA or PHA have you tried and what has been your results. PHAs are new to me and I would like to include them as part of my skincare regimen. What product do you recommend and why? Let me know in the comments section.

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