What are AHAs and BHAs?

Get the facts about exfoliants and how they benefit your skin.
What are AHAs and BHAs?

We know how important it is to understand what you are putting on your skin. By now, you may have heard about alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and how essential they are for maintaining youthful-looking skin. Next to using sunscreen every day, a well-formulated AHA- or BHA-based treatment is critical to maintaining a healthy, hydrated, more even-toned complexion. Dr. Murad was one of the pioneers of using AHAs in topical skincare, helping modernize skin science. Let’s look at the difference between AHAs and BHAs to see which is right for you.

What are AHAs?
AHAs are naturally occurring substances found in various fruits, sugar cane and sour milk. Glycolic acid, the AHA found in sugar cane, is used in many Murad products because it is especially well suited for use in skincare.

How do AHAs work?
The main benefit of AHAs is their ability to exfoliate the skin to repair dry, aging and sun-damaged skin. Glycolic acid works by loosening the bond that holds together the top layers of dead skin cells. By removing the excess build-up on the surface of the skin, AHAs allow newer, softer, healthier-looking skin to emerge. An additional benefit to clearing excess buildup is that moisturizers and treatments can penetrate better.

AHAs also help with age spots and skin discoloration, and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Using AHAs does, however, make your skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun—a concern with any kind of exfoliating treatment. So always use an SPF 30 sunscreen or an SPF moisturizer with an SPF of 30.

What are BHAs? to What are BHAs and how do they work?
BHAs are more commonly known as salicylic acid. The main difference between AHAs and BHAs is oil solubility. AHAs are water soluble only, while BHAs are oil soluble. This means BHAs get down into the pores to cut through the oil that’s clogging them. They also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so BHAs are perfect for treating acne-prone skin and blackheads. The most common BHA in skincare products is salicylic acid, which occurs naturally in willow bark and sweet birch. Like AHAs, BHAs make your skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun, so always use an SPF 30 sunscreen or an SPF moisturizer with an SPF of 30 to protect your skin.