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AHAs vs BHAs: A Quick Guide

AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) have been gaining traction in the field of skin exfoliation. They have been hailed for their ability to blur fine lines, combat acne, and erase dark spots. But what do they do? And how should you use them? Fret not! Tropika Club has prepared a quick guide for AHAs and BHAs: 

No Time to Read? Here’s a Snappy Summary of This Article

  • What are AHAs and BHAs: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are chemical exfoliants that remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture and appearance.
  • Types of AHAs and BHAs: AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid. BHAs include salicylic acid and betaine salicylate.
  • Benefits of AHAs and BHAs: AHAs can help with hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. BHAs can help with acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and oily skin.
  • How to use AHAs and BHAs: AHAs and BHAs can be found in cleansers, toners, serums, masks, and peels. They should be used after cleansing and before moisturizing. Start with a low concentration and frequency, and increase gradually as your skin tolerates. Use sunscreen daily to protect your skin from sun damage.
  • Possible side effects of AHAs and BHAs: AHAs and BHAs can cause irritation, redness, dryness, peeling, and sensitivity. If you experience any of these, reduce the amount or frequency of use, or stop using them altogether. Consult a dermatologist if the symptoms persist or worsen.

AHAs: Should you use it?

AHAs are mostly acids derived from natural substances, such as grapes, milk, sugar canes, or almonds. These type of acids principally works on the skin’s outer layer, but it could go deeper into the skin as well. It dissolves the glue holding your skin cells together and speeds up the skins’ natural process of shedding.

You can use products with AHAs if you have dry skin since it has molecules that bind with water, which helps in improving the skin’s moisture content. AHAs can be useful in reducing fine lines as well. It reduces it in two ways: promoting the production of collagen by the fibroblast cells on your skin and reducing the deterioration of the existing dermal matrix.  

AHAs vs BHAs: A Quick Guide

What about BHAs? 

They mostly come from a derivative of salicylic acid, a popular ingredient for fighting acne.  BHAs and AHAs, exfoliate your skin by removing dead cells, but instead of binding to water, BHAs bind to oils instead. They can bypass the pore-clogging oils to dissolve the dead skin and sebum on your skin, helping you deal with blackheads and white heads. They are antibacterial and anti-inflation too. 

If you have more sensitive, acne-prone skin, BHAs could be the way to go since they’re less irritating. Other uses for BHA include improving skin texture and treating sun-related discolouration. 

The Best of Both Worlds 

You can experiment with using both AHAs and BHAs on your skin, treating acne, sun damage, clogged pores, and fine lines with a one-two punch. If you do try both AHAs and BHAs, it’s a good idea to integrate these ingredients into your skincare routine gradually. But you should consult your dermatologist before trying it out, especially if you have a history of sensitive skin.

Read: The Total Skincare Routine Recommended by Dermatologists


You’ve probably heard of AHAs and BHAs, but do you know what they are and how they can help your skin? Let me break it down for you.

AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliants that get rid of dead skin cells and make your skin smoother and brighter. They’re different from physical exfoliants, like scrubs or brushes, that can be too harsh or abrasive for some skin types.

AHAs stand for alpha hydroxy acids, and they’re water-soluble. That means they work on the surface of your skin, and they’re good for fading dark spots, smoothing out fine lines, and hydrating dry skin. Some common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid.

BHAs stand for beta hydroxy acids, and they’re oil-soluble. That means they can penetrate deeper into your pores, and they’re good for clearing acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and oily skin. The most popular BHA is salicylic acid, but you might also see betaine salicylate on some products.

You can find AHAs and BHAs in various skincare products, like cleansers, toners, serums, masks, and peels. The best way to use them is after washing your face and before applying moisturizer. Start with a low concentration (like 5% or less) and frequency (like once or twice a week), and see how your skin reacts. You can gradually increase the amount or frequency as your skin gets used to them. But don’t overdo it, because too much can irritate your skin or make it more sensitive to the sun.

Speaking of the sun, you should always wear sunscreen when you use AHAs and BHAs, because they can make your skin more prone to sun damage. You should also avoid using them with other strong ingredients, like retinoids or vitamin C, unless you know what you’re doing. If you have any doubts, consult a dermatologist before trying anything new.

AHAs and BHAs are great for improving your skin’s texture and appearance, but they’re not magic. You still need to follow a good skincare routine that suits your skin type and needs. And remember, everyone’s skin is different, so what works for someone else might not work for you. The best way to find out is to experiment and see what makes your skin happy.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the difference between AHAs and BHAs, and how to use them safely and effectively. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. And don’t forget to check out Tropika Club Magazine for more skincare tips and tricks! Tropika Club Magazine is your ultimate source for beauty, wellness, and lifestyle news in Singapore. We cover everything from the latest trends to the best deals on beauty products and services. Whether you’re looking for a facial, a massage, a haircut, or a manicure, we have it all on our website. You can also book online with our trusted partners and enjoy exclusive discounts and rewards. So what are you waiting for? Join Tropika Club today and discover the best of beauty in Singapore!


FAQ For AHAs vs BHAs: A Quick Guide

Q: What are the benefits of using AHAs and BHAs?

A: AHAs and BHAs can help improve your skin texture and appearance by removing dead skin cells, stimulating collagen production, fading hyperpigmentation, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, clearing acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and oily skin. They can also enhance the absorption and effectiveness of other skincare products.

Q: How often should I use AHAs and BHAs?

A: It depends on your skin type, sensitivity, and tolerance. Generally, you should start with a low concentration (5% or less) and frequency (once or twice a week) and see how your skin reacts. You can gradually increase the amount or frequency as your skin gets used to them. But don’t overdo it, because too much can irritate your skin or make it more sensitive to the sun.

Q: Which acid should I choose for my skin type?

A: AHAs are more suitable for dry, dehydrated, or mature skin, as they are water-soluble and can hydrate and brighten the skin surface. BHAs are more suitable for oily, acne-prone, or congested skin, as they are oil-soluble and can penetrate deeper into the pores and unclog them. You can also use a combination of both if you have normal or combination skin, but be careful not to mix them with other strong ingredients like retinoids or vitamin C.

Q: What are some of the best products with AHAs and BHAs in Singapore?

A: Some of the best products with AHAs and BHAs in Singapore are:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: A cult-favourite product that clears up breakouts and minimises the appearance of pores with salicylic acid.
  • Sunday Riley U.F.O Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil: A lightweight oil that combines salicylic acid with tea tree oil and licorice root extract to fight acne and soothe inflammation.
  • Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum: A potent serum that blends glycolic acid with other AHAs and BHAs to refine and resurface the skin overnight.
  • The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA: A mild exfoliant that uses lactic acid to gently remove dead skin cells and hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin.
  • Pixi Glow Tonic: A popular toner that contains 5% glycolic acid to exfoliate and brighten the skin.

Q: How do I use AHAs and BHAs safely and effectively?

A: To use AHAs and BHAs safely and effectively, you should follow these steps:

  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser.
  • Apply a thin layer of your chosen AHA or BHA product on your face, avoiding the eye area. You can also use a cotton pad to apply it evenly.
  • Wait for 10 to 20 minutes before applying other skincare products. This allows the acid to work on your skin without being diluted or neutralised by other ingredients.
  • Apply a moisturiser to hydrate your skin and lock in the benefits of the acid.
  • Apply sunscreen every morning to protect your skin from sun damage. AHAs and BHAs can make your skin more prone to sunburns, so you should always wear SPF when using them.

Q: What are some possible side effects of using AHAs and BHAs?

A: Some possible side effects of using AHAs and BHAs are:

  • Irritation, redness, dryness, peeling, or sensitivity. These are normal reactions when you first start using acids, but they should subside as your skin adapts. If they persist or worsen, you should reduce the amount or frequency of use, or stop using them altogether.
  • Sun sensitivity. As mentioned above, AHAs and BHAs can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so you should always wear sunscreen when using them. You should also avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible.
  • Allergic reactions. If you have any allergies to certain ingredients or plants, you should check the label of the product before using it. Some common allergens are aspirin (found in salicylic acid), citrus fruits (found in citric acid), or milk (found in lactic acid). If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, swelling, itching, or difficulty breathing, you should stop using the product immediately and seek medical attention.

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Terence is the deputy editor for Tropika Club Magazine. He is an analytical individual who enjoys learning about animals and different cultures. He has a curious mind and is always seeking knowledge and understanding. Terence is also a friendly and approachable person who enjoys making connections with others. He is passionate about his work in the publishing industry and takes pride in his collaborations with authors and editors.

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