When we’re young, our skin naturally exfoliates at a rapid rate. This is why you might be familiar with the terms “youthful glow” or “baby soft.” As we age, this cell turnover slows down and we accumulate dead skin cells. This buildup sometimes results in acne, congestion, uneven skin tone, and dry, flaky skin,

As a part of our skincare routine, exfoliation can help to boost our cell renewal and restore our complexion to a smooth, even, and fresh state. Two of the most prevalent and well-known exfoliators on the market are AHA/Alpha Hydroxy Acid and BHA/Beta Hydroxy Acid. Read on to discover the difference between these two skin acids, how they work, and which will be suitable for your skin.

Breaking It All Down

Both AHA and BHA can assist the skin in refining texture, minimizing pores, smoothing fine lines, and evening skin tone.

AHA: Alpha Hydroxy Acid

  • Derived from sugar cane and fruit sugars, these acids are often known as “sugar acids”
  • The most common forms of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid
  • Water-soluble, meaning that this acid penetrates the top layer of the skin
  • Can cause photosensitivity; ensure you are using sunscreen daily to prevent sun damage

BHA: Beta Hydroxy Acid

  • Excellent for acne, blackheads, and oily skin
  • The most common types of BHAs are salicylic acid and willow bark extract
  • Oil-soluble, meaning that this acid penetrates into your pores to help with excess oil production and congestion
  • BHAs are gentle antibacterials

Which One Is Right For You?

These both sound great, but how do you know which will work best on your skin?

It all depends on your skin goals. If you’re looking to smooth texture/lines, brighten skin, and achieve all-over radiance, AHA’s might be the best option for you.

If you’re looking for help with excess congestion, oil production, blackheads, acne, or enlarged pores, BHA’s will be your best bet.

You may have mixed goals and meet both criteria. If that’s the case, you can incorporate both AHA and BHA into your routine. Whether you want to try one or both, it’s crucial to start low and go slow with any new exfoliant. 1-2 times per week.

Our Top AHA and BHA Recommendations

AHA – Klairs Daily Skin Softening Water

A gentle, water-like toner formulated with sugar cane extract for exfoliation. This mild skin water also features cucumber and apple fruit water to calm and soothe.

AHA – NEOGEN Bio-Peel Wine Pads

Created with red wine, this fermented solution contains both glycolic and lactic acids to remove dead skin cells, even tone, and brighten hyperpigmentation.

BHA – By Wishtrend Acid Duo Mild Gel Cleanser

This softening, foaming cleanser features willow bark extract, LHA, and PHA to refine skin texture and help control breakouts.

BHA – COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid

A cult-favourite, the Blackhead Power Liquid penetrates deep into pores to clear congestion and remove blackheads with willow bark extract and niacinamide.



Combination skin types benefit most from using both AHA and BHA. Here are a few of our top choices that are gentle and effective using 1-2 times per week.

AHA/BHA – Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifyiing Treatment Toner

Another favourite which blends 10% of white willow bark and 10% of Apple Water. It also has Betaine Salicylate, Allantoin, and Panthenol,

AHA/BHA/PHA/LHA – Neogen Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Toner

A fairly new kid on the block. This toner is formulated with 90% Bio Ferment Complex, known to improve and strengthen the skin barrier and AHA/BHA/PHA/LHA ingredients

Do you have any additional questions about AHA’s and BHA’s? Would you like to discuss your individual skin concerns and receive a personalized recommendation? Visit us in-store or reach out on Instagram @shopproprlifestyle for a free skincare consultation.

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