BHA

Acids 101: AHA, BHA, PHA

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We’ve all heard catch phrases and marketing spills from various brands that echo in our heads something along these lines, “using AHA, BHA …. product will give your skin glow from sun……………… blah blah blah!”

This post is intended to provide you further information on source of these acids, their purpose in life, how it would benefit the skin and some product suggestions.

ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHA’s)

Operation Mode

AHA’s are water soluble which basically means it reacts with upper layer of epidermis and dissolves all dead skin cells on surface of skin. AHA’s operate at pH level of 3 – 5 (it’s the level of acidity, when compared to water at pH level 7 which is neutral).

Suitable Candidate or Skin Concerns

People experiencing sun damaged skin, aging, pigmentation, brown spots, wrinkles, rosacea, acne spots, congested skin.

Where should it be on the Ingredient list?

Products containing higher concentration of AHA’s would usually be listed 2nd – 3rd – 4th – 5th in the ingredient list (but these do not necessarily interpret effective result it may mean faster results).

Which acid is most effective? Which acid penetrates deepest in layers of skin?

It simply depends on the relevant acid’s Molecular size….Not all of the acids work in same way. Smaller molecules penetrate deeper in the skin for best results. But they are also the ones that give the skin tingling sensation or irritate very sensitive skins.

The following acids are in the order from . The following table shows the types of AHA’s, in the order of Smallest (deepest penetration in skin) to Largest molecule (more skin surface exfoliation), Source they are derived from, their Purpose in life and Product suggestions:

Type Source Derived from Function

Product Suggestions

Glycolic Acid

(Smallest Molecule)

Sugar Cane Degreasing and controlling production of sebum, and stimulate collagen production in skin. Alpha Hydrox range (12-14% Glycolic Acid)

Peter Roth Thomas Glycolic Range

Kate Somerville Glycolic & Retinol Peel

Alpha H Liquid Gold Range

Bravura London Glycolic Peel (10%) & Moisturizer (15%)

Lactic Acid Milk, Yoghurt, Sour Butter Milk or fermented fruit Antimicrobial, hydrating and adjusts ph level, skin softener, keeps skin moist Priori Gentle Facial Cleanser (13% Lactic Acid Complex)

Bravura London Lactic Acid Peel

Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant

Sunday Riley Good Genes

Malic Acid Apples, Cherry, Pears Hydrating, soothing and increases tissue respiration, increases oxygen supply to skin Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Packs

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel

Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser & Enzyme Exfoliant

Tartaric Acid Grapes, Berries, Currants, Passionfruit, Red Wine Antioxidant Arcona Raspberry Resurfacing Mask
Citric Acid Tomatoes, Oranges, Lemons (citrus fruits) Brightens skin, anti aging properties Mario Badescu Orange Tonic Mask

Ole Henriksen Truth Collagen Serum

Mandelic Acid Bitter Almonds Helps age spots, discoloration

Vivant Skincare Mandelic Serum

Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution

BETA HYDROXY ACID (BHA)

Operation Mode

BHA’s are lipid (oil) soluble, which basically means it can break down the oils on surface of skin and penetrate deeper in layers of skin. Due to the ability of BHA’s going deeper in skin, they aid in acting against sebum congestion under the skin’s surface. They have anti-inflammatory properties too. Like AHA’s, these operate at pH level of 3 – 5. BHA products may result in dryness and dehydration to the skin.

Suitable Candidate or Skin Concerns

BHA products are suitable for congested skin, blackheads, whiteheads, acne, wrinkles, and ingrown hair.

Where should it be on the Ingredient list?

Unlike AHA products, the products containing Salicylic acid would usually be listed towards end of the ingredient listing. BHA is far stronger and therefore effective on skin.

Type Source Derived from Function Product Suggestions

Salicylic Acid

(Molecule smaller than Glycolic Acid)

Salicylic Acid derived from White Willow Bark. Aspirin is also derived from White Willow Bark and its active ingredient is Salicylic acid. You may have heard Aspirin masks for acne prone skin. Unclog pores, helps with underlying congestion, ingrown hair.

NO impact on sebum production or killing bacteria.

Bravura London Salicylic Acid Peel 2%

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (French Version)

Skinceuticals LHA Solution (also has Lipo Hydroxy and Glycolic Acids)

Dr Dennis Gross Purifying Booster

Perfect Image Skincare – TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) 15% Gel Peel Enhanced with Salicylic Acid

Body scrubs that contain Salicylic acid are brilliant for ingrown hair

Categories/Types of products that contain AHA’s and BHA’s

Cleanser, Toners, Exfoliators, Eye Creams, Serums, Moisturizers, Chemical Peels. Below I have summarized some of the products that contain AHA, BHA, or a combination of two. 

AHA & BHA General Knowledge

1) Most important thing to bear in mind is AHA and BHA do cause skin sensitivities especially to sun exposure. Basically all hard work done with skin care products, can be reversed with unprotected sun exposure or inadequate sun protection.

2)  Skin regeneration is turnover of new skin cells that is critical for healthy, radiant and clear skin. Whilst AHA’s, BHA’s and PHA’s are brilliant for chemical exfoliation which continually “promote” growth of collagen in skin, it should be noted that AHA, BHA, PHA don’t generate new collagen. These are a great prep point for repairing products that have specific ingredients aimed at repair and nourish various skin concerns.

3)  There are number of companies and products that have a combination of AHA and BHA (Salicylic Acid). As for AHA’s you will need to read the ingredient list to ensure which type of acid is included in the product. Some companies also used synthetically sourced AHA and BHA, which is not naturally sourced. Think of it as, Vanilla extract (in a bottle with alcohol) as against using natural vanilla pod! Similarly some companies use AHA concentrate rather than extracts from natural fruit or vegetable. 

POLY HYDROXY ACID (PHA)

For sensitive skins, that are irritated with deep penetration of Glycolic Acid or cannot handle the tingly sensation from AHA’s, the Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA’s) come to their rescue.

Polyhydroxy acids enhance exfoliation of the outermost layer of the skin and normalize its thickness. Products containing PHA’s cause less irritation to sensitive skin due to their large molecular structures. Considering it has a larger molecular structure it doesn’t penetrate deep in layers of skin, however it has has been proven the efficacy is not impacted in anyway compared to any other AHA.

Generally, the two types of PHA’s available are Gluconolactone (from oxidized glucose – natural sugar found in human body) and Lactobionic acid (from oxidized lactose – milk sugar).

Some product suggestions with PHA’s:

Thanks for taking the time to read the post and hopefully it has answered some of your burning questions.

HHW.com

xx

My Thoughts : Derma E Overnight Peel

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Hello all, this product has featured on this blog before but it is SO fabulous that it deserves a post for itself. No sharing the limelight kinda business.

The overnight peel is packaged in a very simple white opaque bottle (possibly to keep all acids stable) with a pump and plastic lid. Nothing fancy and nothing that would jump right at you. But hopefully the name of the product ‘Overnight Peel with Alpha Hydroxy Acids’ will catch your attention. Especially if you’re an acid junkie like me (ermmm AHA, BHA acids). Very easily incorporated in nightly routine 2-3 times a week after toning and before moisturizing.

Claims: Reveal dramatically fresher, newer skin overnight with this skin-brightening blend of glycolic sugar cane and fruit acids. Our skin-renewing formula contains 5% Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) for safe, effective removal of dead surface skin cells. With every use, skin tone becomes more radiant, pigmentation is evened and age spots are visibly diminished. 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

Following morning my skin appears fresh, well rested, even and calm. I’m genetically cursed with pigmentation and puberty cursed acne scars so I need some magical AHA shizz in my life to make it all better. If by a miracle, I’m having happy skin day and it’s all calm, no angry spots I still use as overnight exfoliator and boosting collagen. My skin appears fresher, smoother and supple.

Ingredient Listing: Purified Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata (Passion) Fruit Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate (C-Ester), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* (.1%), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract* (.1%), Glyceryl Stearate and Peg-100 Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Dimethicone, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin. 

I’m no qualified chemist so with my countless years of researching each ingredient and being ardent follower of Mrs. Hirons none of these ingredients jump at it negatively. All good acids are the first few ingredients, followed by some fruits, skin moisturizers, and some preservatives. All in all, fab ingredients delivering amazing results. I highly recommend trying this product, especially at the price tag of under $ you can’t go wrong. And thankfully it’s freely available all over the retail stores and online stores.

Derma E Overnight Peel – $18.75

xx

HHW.com