AHAs and BHAs: All About Chemical Exfoliation
Every month, your skin gets a new look by naturally eliminating dead skin cells on its surface. But sometimes these dead cells don't come off completely, causing dry patches and clogged pores.
Chemical exfoliation helps facilitate the removal of dead skin cells, revealing a more even and radiant complexion. Read on to learn all about chemical exfoliation.
What Is Chemical Exfoliation?
Chemical exfoliation facilitates the detachment of dead skin cells by cutting the bonds that hold them together. This is a very different method from physical exfoliation, which requires manual rubbing to exfoliate the skin.
Chemical exfoliants fall into three categories: alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs).
In addition to revealing a more even and luminous complexion, chemical exfoliation also improves the effectiveness of cosmetics. Indeed, the removal of dead cells on the surface of the skin allows better penetration of skincare. BHAs have the power to prevent imperfections, while AHAs can partially reduce the appearance of skin aging.
It is important to note that chemical exfoliation can sensitize the skin to the sun. It is therefore essential to add a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your routine.
How to Choose Your Chemical Exfoliant?
Your choice of chemical exfoliator will be influenced by both your skin concerns and your skin type. Choosing the right exfoliator for your skin type is essential to ensure the best results.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
AHAs exfoliate the surface of the skin and stimulate skin renewal. The most common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. These acids are often found in chemical scrubs and anti-aging products.
Targeted Skin Concerns
AHAs are used for their exfoliating properties, but also for their ability to reduce the appearance of signs of skin aging such as hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Indeed, glycolic acid can in the long term fade dark spots by resurfacing the skin and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles (1, 2).
Glycolic acid is the best known AHA and also the most effective. However, its effectiveness is accompanied by a high potential for irritation. Lactic acid and mandelic acid are generally better tolerated.
AHAs are beneficial for many skin types. Dry skin can greatly benefit from AHAs since their exfoliating action improves the penetration of moisturizers. On the other hand, the exfoliation provided by AHAs can also benefit normal to oily skin. AHAs should be used with caution on sensitive skin.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
BHAs are oil soluble. These acids can thus penetrate deeply into the pores by crossing the sebum to unclog their content. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA.
Targeted Skin Concerns
BHAs such as salicylic acid eliminate the accumulation of sebum and dead cells in the pores of the skin, thus preventing imperfections. In addition, salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that also contribute to its anti-blemish action.
BHAs are ideal for combination, oily or acne-prone skin since they deeply unclog pores. Whether to prevent or treat acne, salicylic acid is ideal for tackling blemishes!
Discover BHA Active Foam Cleanser
Omy's BHA Active Foam cleanser contains salicylic acid to provide a light daily exfoliation to the skin. Suitable for normal to oily skin, this cleanser helps regulate excess sebum, clarify the complexion and unclog pores without irritating the skin barrier, all in a velvety foam texture.
Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs)
PHAs are mild chemical exfoliants. These acids are therefore ideal for sensitive skin. Gluconolactone is the most marketed PHA in skincare products.
Targeted Skin Concerns
PHAs provide an exfoliating action similar to that of AHAs. Plus, gluconolactone provides the anti-aging and moisturizing benefits of AHAs. However, PHAs remain largely less studied than AHAs on their anti-aging action.
PHAs are ideal for sensitive skin since they are better tolerated than other types of chemical exfoliants.
Discover Micellar water with PHAs
Frequently Asked Questions About Chemical Exfoliation
How often should you exfoliate your skin?
The frequency of exfoliation depends on the product you use. That's why we recommend that you first carefully read the instructions for your product. Some exfoliating products are designed for daily application, while others are designed to be applied no more than once a week.
Pay attention to your skin's signs while using your exfoliating product. If you notice that it is more sensitive than usual, you may have over-exfoliated your skin. If necessary, stop applying your product until your skin has returned to a stable state.
Discover Tri-exfoliating Face Mask
Using an all-in-one exfoliating product can make the exfoliation process easier. One application per week, and you're done! Omy's Tri-exfoliating Face Mask combines three types of exfoliation (physical, chemical and enzymatic) in one product. Its jojoba beads, fruit enzymes and natural fruit acids exfoliate skin to reveal an even, glowing complexion!
How to incorporate chemical exfoliation into your skincare routine?
If you already have other active ingredients in your routine (vitamin C, retinol, etc.), it is important to know which active ingredients should not be mixed in your cosmetics. For example, it is recommended to alternate the application of your exfoliating products with the application of your vitamin C or your retinol since these ingredients are quite irritating.
Should you protect your skin from the sun if you use chemical exfoliators?
Yes, yes and yes! Chemical exfoliation is likely to sensitize your skin to the sun. That's why it's essential to protect your skin from the sun with a high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen when using chemical exfoliants in your skincare routine.