Since launching Go-To, and including AHAs in the range, I have had a mountain of questions from dames regarding them, and BHAs, and is the range safe for pregbots and suitable for blemished faces and so on.
So, I thought I would conduct a small, cute lesson on these compounds, both of which WILL make your skin better. Now please pop on your learning beanies or at the very least just skim to the bits that are succinct and dot-pointed so you can get back to filing your nails.
As an introduction, Hydroxy Acids, (which are in both BHA and AHAs) are active skin care ingredients that improve acne and congestion, reduce pigmentation and brighten/even the skin tone, help reduce discolouration, and reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines. Plus, they give glow. Lots of lovely glow.
ALL ABOUT THE BHAs
Starts with a ‘B’ not an ‘A’
Short for Beta Hydroxy Acids, and derived from man-made sources. The most common BHA is salicylic acid, but there is also benzoic acid and buteric acid.
BHAs are the best option for acne, oily skin types, blackheads, blemishes and breakouts. (BHAs don’t have a direct effect on acne bacteria, but they DO clear mild to moderate acne nicely without over drying.)
BHAs’ chief job and skill is deeply cleaning out that nasty oil and build-up in your pores, and limiting the oil on the surface of the skin
Mostly used for clarifying, de-oiling, deep-cleaning the skin, and hugely popular in anti-acne skin care
Oil-soluble (making them terrific for cutting through all that oil and mess in your pores)
Also great at whipping up scrambled eggs for lazy sundays
Less irritating than AHAs
BHAs work best in lower concentrations, so ideally the sally acid should be listed as one of the final ingredients on your product
BHAs are not suitable for pregnant women
BHAs won’t increase sun sensitivity
Use in this order: Cleanser then toner then BHAs then serums then face cream then sunscreen (during the day).
Good BHA prods: Clinique Clarifying Lotion, Mario Badescu Anti-Acne Serum, Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash, NeoStrata Clear and Smooth anti-blemish pads … which also has some AHAs – not uncommon in acne prods; many combine AHAs with BHAs.
AND NOW THE AHAs
Starts with an ‘A’ not a ‘B’
Short for Alpha Hydroxy Acids, AHAs are derived from plant, fruit and milk sugars, and are most commonly: glycolic, lactic, citric and mandalic acids.
AHAs are a chemical exfoliant (as opposed to a physical one, such as a face scrub)
AHAs are excellent for dry, dull, aged or uneven-toned/sun-damaged skin
Will walk the dog if asked nicely
Mostly used for anti-ageing and skin refining due to their excellent exfoliation properties, e.g: their ability to diminish lines and wrinkles, retexture the skin, fade pigmentation and brighten the skin
AHAs break down the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin cells together, allowing rank, dull, old skin cells to fall off and new, fresh skin cells to come through
Like the good, thorough exfoliant they are, AHAs allow the products you use next (serums, masques, creams) to penetrate better and do a better job.
AHAs can be irritating and cause sensitivity and are definitely stronger than BHAs. Always start off with low doses and usage and build up a tolerance. Or, better yet, play it safe (but still get great results) by sticking to one AHA product, used 3 x a week.
AHAs can turn on you if you’re not careful. Layering AHA products each day and night is stupid and extremely short-sighted. Be careful. I have friends who unknowingly use an AHA serum, cleanser and face cream daily and while their skin looks great today, in a short time, if this level of multi-tiered chemical exfoliation is maintained, skin sensitivity and photosensitivity of the irreversible nature will set in. This is both the beauty and the curse of AHAs… people get addicted to the glow and start to overuse, an altogether terrible idea as your skin has only finite layers and you can’t just exfoliate and exfoliate forever – skin ends up raw and sensitised and prone to rosacea etc etc.
AHAs make your skin sensitive to the sun. If you use AHAS you MUST USE SUNSCREEN EACH DAY. Must! And please try to ensure it is photo-stable also. (So, use a physical/mineral one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide ideally. And avoid avobenzone, which is not photo-stable.)
Use in this order, and preferably save your AHAs for the PM: cleanser then toner then AHAs then serums then face cream then eye cream.
Some good AHA prods: Alpha-H Liquid Gold, Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys, MD Formulations Facial Cleanser with 12% Glycolic Acid, Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir.
Of course, many people use both BHAs and AHAs and that’s perfectly fine (and a lot of products incorporate both, especially skin-clearing products) I just recommend the slowly, slowly, gently gently approach, both when you first dive in, and just always and forever, really.