Unless skin care is a new topic to you, you have probably heard of AHA and BHA. Yes, they are acids and may sound harsh on the skin, but they actually serve an important purpose of chemically exfoliating your skin to remove dead skin cells and give you brighter, clearer complexion. Okay, so what exactly are the difference between AHAs and BHA? How do they benefit my skin? Which one should I use? What is the best way for me to incorporate them into my skin care routine? We hear curiosity building up! Let’s find out more about these commonly found acids to help you achieve radiant, luminous skin all year long!
What are AHAs?
Alpha Hydroxy Acid or AHAs are water-soluble acids derived from sugar cane, sugary fruits and other plant sources, hence sometimes referred to as 'fruit acids'. You may have encountered common AHA exfoliant from your skincare products, like glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid. They all fall under the category of AHA as their small molecular sizes allow for easy penetration into the skin’s layers to dissolve dead skin. What does aha do to skin? Because AHAs are water-soluble, they exfoliate your skin at the surface and does not penetrate deeply into the skin. Their main purpose is to remove old and dead skin cells, stimulate collagen production and help with skin regeneration to visibly reduce the appearance of dark spots, enlarged pores, fine lines and wrinkles without being abrasive.
The process of gently exfoliating dead skin cells with Alpha Hydroxy Acids is not only proven to visibly brighten complexion to revitalize dull-looking skin, but it can also boost your skin’s ability to absorb Korean skincare products that you apply. By adding AHA exfoliant skincare into your Korean skincare routine, it removes the layer of dead skin cells which will allow your Korean facial moisturiser to hydrate the new cells.
AHA skincare is generally safe and gentle enough to use on all skin types without leaving any feelings of tightness or over-exfoliated skin. When first applied, it is normal to experience a slight tingling sensation for a few seconds. This is because the ideal pH of Korean AHA skincare is about 3 or 4, which is lower than that of our skin. If you have sensitive skin type, a tip that we recommend is to combine it with amino acids, which will slow down its penetration into your skin.
What are BHAs?
Alright, now on to AHA's loyal friend, BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acid. BHAs are oil-soluble acids, meaning they can penetrate deeper into your skin layers, cut through sebum and remove blackheads. Primarily, BHAs are used to treat acne and sun damage as they are able to go deep into your pores to remove impurities, thus making them more suitable for those with combination or oily skin types.
A common BHA is Salicylic Acid which we can find in acne care products, they are known for their anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties. Apart from acne treatment, BHAs can also be used to clear the skin from impurities, control excess sebum production, stimulate cell renewal and prevent blackheads and whiteheads caused by pore congestion.
AHA and BHA for Skin. How do I use them?
The use of AHA and BHA skincare is not mutually exclusive. You can use them together, or pair them with another Korean beauty ingredient such as hyaluronic acid, propolis, aloe vera and so on. As a general rule of thumb, avoid mixing chemical exfoliants with ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A or any harsh physical exfoliator as this may irritate skin or compromise the strength of your skin barrier.
Apart from that, dermatologists conclude that your skin benefits the most from acids like AHA skincare and Beta Hydroxy Acids when you are in your 20s or 30s, to minimize the appearance of fine lines and even out skin texture. Nonetheless, incorporating acids into your skincare routine will benefit your skin at any age to boost cell renewal and prevent troubled skin caused by buildup of dead skin cells.
So then, how exactly do you incorporate AHA skincare and BHA skincare into your daily Korean skincare routine? You have come to the right place! Here we have rounded up Korean skincare products from the best Korean skincare brands so you can incorporate these acids into any step of your beauty routine.
Cleansing is a crucial part of every skin care routine.
To feel the benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids, we recommend that you start with a pH balanced cleanser. BY WISHTREND Green tea & Enzyme Powder Wash is a non-irritating, mild powder-based facial cleanser. Enriched with green tea, baking powder and AHA skincare from papaya extracts, it works by eliminating impurities and excess sebum while unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells from the surface. Its refreshing, green tea latte scent makes it the perfect facial cleanser to start your daily Korean skincare routines!
Smooth your way to glowing, radiant complexion!
Exfoliators often have bad reputation because even though they remove dead skin and other impurities, they strip away a lot of the skin's moisture during that process especially for those with dry, sensitive skin types. But fret not, because your skin will love this 3-in-1 facial exfoliator from KLAIRS! KLAIRS Youthful Glow Sugar Mask is both a physical and chemical exfoliator. How is that possible? Well my Korean beauty lovers, this mask pack contains fruit acids from raspberry and grapefruit, along with real sugar granules that melt slowly upon contact with water and your skin. In addition to that, it is enriched with kaolin clay for sebum control and calamine to keep your skin soothed after exfoliation. Your skin will feel hydrated, refreshed, and the appearance of enlarged pores will be minimized after it is rinsed away.
There are a number of creative ways in which this DEAR KLAIRS Korean beauty product can be used as part of your Korean skincare routines. You can simply use it as a facial exfoliator to remove dead skin cells and brighten your complexion. Alternatively, as a wash off mask pack that you can leave on your skin for 15-20 minutes, to allow the AHAs from the fruits to penetrate into your skin.
Get your skin ready for hydration by toning it!
Now that your skin is cleansed, exfoliated and ready to soak up all the hydration and moisture that comes, it is time to prep your skin with Korean facial toner!
Want to meet the best Korean toner that sells every few seconds in the world? Say hello to SOME BY MI AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner! This Korean toner combines the best of AHA and BHA into a single product, which gives you the benefits of both. The miracle toner helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, control excess sebum production and help prevent and calm breakouts or acne with its added tea tree water extract.
With its refreshing, lightweight finish that leaves your skin cleaner and more radiant than before, it works best for those with oily, acne- and blemish-prone skin.
Give your skin the TLC it deserves!
Who can refuse a daily dose of tender-loving-care? We know for sure your skin won’t refuse it! Add I’M FROM Fig Boosting Essence to your Korean skincare routine – a lightweight, watery essence made with 62.7% fig extract that will restore hydration to dry, flaky skin as well as increase the absorption of remaining skincare steps by eliminating dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Enriched with naturally moisturising peptides and amino acids, this essence is the best AHA skincare for those with sensitive skin! Apart from that, it is vegan certified, cruelty-free and natural! What’s not to love about it?
If your skin is dry or tends to appear dull, flaky, or rough in texture, ISNTREE Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence is your new skincare buddy! This lightweight exfoliating essence is made with 4% glycolic and lactic acids that will naturally dissolve and remove dead skin cells from your skin. It brightens dull, tired-looking complexion and is best when used as part of your night time skincare routine when your skin’s regeneration is at its peak. Thanks to their small molecular sizes, this essence is able to go deeper into your skin while still being gentle enough to use on any skin type!
Looking for a lightweight yet hydrating moisturiser?
As a final step of your skincare routine, seal in all that nourishment and hydration with a lightweight moisturiser like COSRX AC Collection Lightweight Soothing Moisturizer. This bouncy, gel-like Korean face cream is enriched with COSRX’s patented CentellAC-Rx Complex which contains skin barrier enhancing ingredients to protect and calm acne-prone, blemished skin. The addition of AHA and BHA in this moisturiser works by improving the appearance of scars, blemishes while controlling excess shine that builds up.
You can use this moisturiser during the day to keep your skin and/or makeup looking fresh and smooth, or even as a night time moisturiser to increase your skin’s natural cell renewal process.
What's that toc toc sound?
A mask sheet a day keeps the skin woes away, they said…
Yep, you heard it! That's the popping sound from DR JART Dermask Ultra Jet Peeling Solution face mask reacting to dead skin cells (well hello radiance). This bubbling facial mask contains carbonic acid and AHA from a blend of sugar scrub and fruit acids to even out skin tone and rejuvenate the skin. It also contains Olive Oil for added moisture, leaving your skin soft and supple after use. Oh, we also have a brag-worthy feature here- this mask changes color from violet to blue to indicate a change in your skin's pH balance.
Don't get intimidated by the 2-step process, it's actually very simple. First, apply the peeling essence on your face after cleansing, avoiding the eye area. Massage gently before applying the mask. Now here's the most exciting part! (drumrolls please) Watch the mask turn from a light violet hue to a bluish hue while it makes the bubbling sound, as your dead skin cells are being removed. If you feel a slight tingling sensation, do not panic, this is just the carbonic acid doing its job. Leave the mask on for about 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing it off and follow with your usual Korean skincare steps.
To sum up, both Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids work well in improving your skin texture, maintaining oil-water balance and in removing dead skin cells to reveal visibly brighter and more radiant complexion! AHA skincare is more suitable for those with dry, sensitive skin types looking for a gentle facial exfoliator, or wanting to improve their skin’s health and natural glow. BHA skincare is ideal especially for those with oily, troubled, acne-prone skin looking to control excess sebum production and calming breakouts.
Nonetheless, you can incorporate both into your skincare routines and see how your skin improves! Our recommendation is to apply these acids at night, every 3 nights or so in the beginning and you may adjust it accordingly. Shop AHA and BHA Korean skincare products from the best Korean skincare brands at BONIIK Australia!