What is the difference between alpha and beta hydroxy acids in skincare?

hydroxy acids in skincare and chemical peels

What is the difference between alpha and beta hydroxy acids in skincare?

What are alpha and beta hydroxy acids?

To some, the thought of applying acids to your face may sound like an extreme approach to skincare. But if you take a close look at the active ingredients of your favorite products, you’ll see that alpha and beta hydroxy acids oftentimes play a significant role. Some of the more commonly used acids include salicylic acid, lactic, and glycolic acid. These are also key ingredients in superficial chemical peels.

The acids most often found in skincare products can be put into two major groups: alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Although they are both acids, but with different structures. Hence, they have different effects on your skin. You should understand these differences so that you can choose which is best for your individual skincare needs.


What’s the difference between alpha and beta hydroxy acids?

Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble. They work as exfoliants to speed up shedding and cell turnover. Because of this, they are ideal for people with dry, scaly, dull skin, aged or sun-damaged skin, or uneven skin tone and texture. AHA’s can also help to increase the effectiveness of other skincare products. They help to remove dirt, oil and dead skin cells, so the other products can penetrate the skin more easily. The most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids are glycolic acid and lactic acid.

In contrast to AHA’s, beta hydroxy acids are lipid-soluble. This means they are able to penetrate the oil glands, making them ideal for use on oily skin types. Not only do they balance the oil content on your skin, but they also treat blackheads and whiteheads too. In fact, salicylic acid, one of the most common active ingredients in anti-acne products, is a BHA. Unlike AHA’s, BHA’s are usually present in lower concentrations in skincare products.

Remember that all hydroxy acids can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. So, consistent daily sunscreen use with reapplication throughout the day is a must.If you have severe acne, be sure to speak with your dermatologist about prescription acne medications. She may also recommend a chemical peel to help unclog your pores, so that you acne medications can work more quickly. Our lead physician, Dr. Ife Rodney, MD , FAAD is a chemical peel specialist in Columbia MD and surrounding areas.



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