Should You Use AHA and BHA Together?

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AHA And BHA Together

Exfoliation is an important step in skincare as it helps with the turnover of the skin cells. Among the most popular exfoliants are the chemical exfoliants Alpha- and Beta- Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs). 

Chemical exfoliation may seem harsh. But they are actually gentler than most physical exfoliation!

What about using AHA and BHA together? Is that even possible or good?

The short answer to that is yes, you can use AHA and BHA together. However, don’t just do that haphazardly. It is still important to know how to do it sensibly. 

You don’t want to end up having skin issues due to unexpected interactions. If you know nothing about that, keep reading so you’ll know how to properly use those acids together!


Defining AHAs and BHAs

Before you even attempt using AHAs and BHAs together, it is best if you know what they are first. 

AHA means Alpha-Hydroxy Acids while BHA is for Beta-Hydroxy Acids. As the name implies, both are acids! But don’t get scared of that too much because these are the kinder, gentler, friendlier acids. 

Acids are typically used in skincare as an exfoliating substance. This simply means that they help remove the dead skin cells so that healthier skin cells underneath are exposed. 

Apart from that, they help other products like makeup and moisturizers spread evenly.

Although both help to exfoliate the skin, there are still differences between them. 

Skin Diagram Source: Wikipedia

The AHA’s

AHAs are water-soluble in nature. They help remove the topmost skin layer so that healthier and newer skin is revealed. 

These acids can be usually found naturally in some fruits, sugarcane, and milk. Apart from making your skin more radiant-looking, it could help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 

Sometimes, the term “acid” can be scary or intimidating especially if you imagine using it on delicate skin like that your face.

However, AHA’s are of the gentler acids.  

Apart from being helpful in exfoliating your skin, AHAs help with skin hydration. A good example of AHA is glycolic acid, which not only exfoliates but hydrates the skin too. 

Apart from being helpful in exfoliating your skin, AHAs help with skin hydration. A good example of AHA is glycolic acid, which not only exfoliates but hydrates the skin too. 

In the skincare industry, glycolic acid  is also considered a humectant. Humectants will help draw moisture from the deeper layers of the skin towards the top so it can look plumper. That’s the reason why it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 

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Usually, those who have mature, dry, and sensitive skin are better to use AHAs due to their exfoliating and moisturizing properties. This enables the skin to shed off the dead skin cells without flaking due to dryness. 

Although mature skin benefits well from AHAs, any skin type will benefit well from using them too.


The BHA’s 

BHAs are acids that can be used for skin exfoliation. However, compared to AHA’s they may be stronger acids. 

Unlike the AHA, BHAs have the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin, and even into the pores. BHAs can unclog those pores thoroughly. 

BHAs are effective in exfoliating the skin, but it could still take some time for the skin to get used to. Sometimes, you could start off by having breakouts or flaking until the skin adjusts. 

The most popular BHA available today is salicylic acid . This is usually used to help get the dirt and excess oil out of the pores. Doing that helps prepare your skin to absorb the moisturizer you use afterward. 

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Through exfoliation, the older and duller-looking skin is removed, and you are left with a blank canvas ready to absorb the moisturizer or other products you apply afterward. 

Through exfoliation, the older and duller-looking skin is removed, and you are left with a blank canvas ready to absorb the moisturizer or other products you apply afterward. 

Those who have oily skin will benefit well from BHAs because they work really well in unclogging pores. Similarly, they are great for those with dry skin because the skin gets prepared to absorb the moisturizer more efficiently.


Using AHA And BHA Together

AHAs and BHAs are both exfoliants but they help exfoliate the skin in different ways. They have their own added benefits. 

Many people simply choose one over the other depending on what they think their skin needs. However, there are some who use AHA and BHA together. 

So is it possible to use them together in your skincare routine? The answer is yes, you can definitely use AHA and BHA together in your skincare routine. In fact, using the two together will help in thoroughly cleansing the skin from the surface as well as the deeper layers that are stuck in the pores. 

In fact, using the two together will help in thoroughly cleansing the skin from the surface as well as the deeper layers that are stuck in the pores. 

Now that you know that you can use them together and that it is a great idea to do so, the next question would be how to use them together.

You might be wondering if is okay to layer the acids on top of each other and if there is an effect when you do. 

Well, the good news is that the AHAs and BHAs work differently when it comes to cleaning the skin.

The AHAs focus on the dead skin cells on the topmost layer of the skin. BHAs are more focused on the deeper layers. They usually focus on loosening the bonds that hold the dead skin together. 

The AHAs focus on the dead skin cells on the topmost layer of the skin. BHAs are more focused on the deeper layers.

In essence, the two acids can work together and focus on different things to help thoroughly exfoliate the skin.

However, some people could still react more adversely than others. 

If it is your first time using the two acids together, you might see a little bit of flakiness, peeling, redness, dry skin, and irritation.

At this stage, the skin is still adjusting to the use of the exfoliants. 

If your skin really looks irritated when you use both acids, you might want to alternate the use of the acids for a much gentler clean.

Many people use BHAs in the morning while using the AHAs at night. 

Many people use BHAs in the morning while using the AHAs at night. 

When using both the acids together, you should first start off with the BHA. These chemicals attract oil to clean the pores. After which, you can proceed to use the water-soluble AHA to clean the skin surface. 

Some target the oilier areas for their BHA product and AHA for the rest of the face for a much gentler cleaning. Doing so helps lessen the risk of irritation. 

In the market today, there are already skincare products that contain both AHA and BHA . That’s why you don’t really need to layer them anymore. You can just use one single product (and why we love so much of The Ordinary’s product line!). 


Skin Irritation Due To Acids

Although you can use AHA and BHA together, you still have to consider how your skin reacts to them. Some get their skin irritated when combining the two acids. 

Some get skin irritations due to over-exfoliation. Using acids for exfoliation is still trending and gaining popularity. However, it would be best to let your skin adjust first, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

Apart from irritation due to the two acids, it is possible that your skin irritation is due to the other products that you use with the two acids. 

Are you using retinol, vitamin C, and other antioxidants? That could be overstimulating the skin and causing irritation. This could be observed when there is flaking of the skin. 

Although you can use other skincare products with AHA and BHA, it is important to take note of how your skin reacts. Sometimes, it can be too much for your skin so you should stop or reduce the frequency of using them.

Although you can use other skincare products with AHA and BHA, it is important to take note of how your skin reacts. 

Another reason why your skin could be getting irritated is that you are not using sunscreen. AHA could increase your sensitivity to the sun and you can get sunburned easily. That’s why it is advised to use sunscreen.

Some opt to use AHA during nighttime to lessen the sensitivity to the sun. However, you should still be wearing sunscreen to thoroughly protect the skin. 

Whether you are using acids or not, it is always best to use sunscreen . It protects you from possible sunburn and the other aging effects of the skin’s radiation. 

Written by Kayla Young

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