What’s the difference between AHA and BHA?

Did you know that our skin exfoliates dead skin cells naturally every day? However, due to some circumstances like aging and unprotected sun exposure, it slows down the shedding process and may stop the process too.

That’s why we have always been advised to include exfoliation in our skincare routine and there are 2 exfoliants that can definitely help you which are the AHA and BHA. There is a difference between the 2 and that’s what we’re gonna talk about in this blog.

What is AHA?

Alpha Hydroxy Acid is a water-soluble chemical exfoliant aiding in removing dead skin cells. This type of acid is derived from sugarcane, milk, or fruit.

This type of acid benefits is the following: Minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improving the appearance of mild hyperpigmentation such as age spots and scars, and reducing pore size.

There are different types of AHA’s

  • Glycolic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Mandelic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Tartaric Acid
  • Phytic Acid

AHA can be used for all skin types, however, those who have more sensitive and extremely dry skin need to use it with caution. According to experts, you should use products with AHA that has 10% less concentration, have above 3.5 pH level, and if the product is formulated to protect from increased sun sensitivity or directly tells consumers to use a daily sunscreen.

What is BHA?

Beta-Hydroxy Acid is an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that deeply penetrates the skin through sebaceous glands. This type of acid is derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen leaves, or sweet birch bark. It is less aggressive and irritating and has additional antibacterial properties.

It is the preferred option for normal to oil types of skin that are prone to bumps, clogs, blemishes, and enlarged pores. It is best for balancing oil and calming your skin. BHA is more effective for those who have acne-prone skin.

These are different types of BHA’s

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Tropic Acid
  • Willow Extract
  • Betaine Salicylate

It is said that BHA’s are designed for daily use. FDA suggests testing any product that contains BHA on a small area of skin before applying it to larger skin areas.

Can it be used together?

Yes, you can! Though using only one of them is fine which you think is the best one for you. You can experiment first and then decide if you will use both or just one of them.

What if you would like to use them both?

You can use it alternately, for example, today you use AHA then tomorrow BHA, or AHA this week then next week BHA. Remember not to apply it twice a day, no person needs that level of exfoliation.


Remember, AHA and BHA almost provide that same skincare benefit. Do not overuse them as they may cause harm rather than a good effect on your skin. Also, make sure to talk to your trusted dermatologist to know which is the best one for your skin.