Exfoliation has become part of a woman’s skincare ritual- thanks to the omnipresent TV commercials and print ads that tell us how it can revitalize dull skin. But with so many products marketed for skincare, ordinary consumers like me get confused with jargon that only the manufacturing mavens comprehend. Case in point- AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid)

Not all products are made the same. Ever the skincare enthusiast, I hope these little tips can help you make an informed decision:

AHA or alpha hydroxy acid works as an exfoliant. The most common forms are glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHA improves skin texture by sloughing off dead cells from the skin’s outer layer that’s why it is also used for chemical peels. In a nutshell, AHA is primarily indicated for wrinkles, rough and dull skin,  and sun-damaged skin. It works best in concentrations between 5%-10%, anything higher can cause skin irritation and should not be used unless supervised by professionals. When you read the product label, opt for something that has listed AHA second or third from the ingredients- this way you are getting an acceptable concentration of AHA. Because AHAs strip the topmost layer of the skin, the FDA recommends wearing sunscreen. (Confused with sunscreen jargon? click here)

BHA or beta hydroxy acid is simply salicylic acid, the best friend of acne-prone people like me. BHA is oil-soluble which enables it to penetrate pores where sebum (oil) is produced and exfoliate dead skin cells that are trapped inside the pores. In short, if you are battling with oily skin, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, choose BHA over AHA. BHA should be at least 2% to achieve desired results. It is less irritating than AHA and has anti-inflammatory action.

Disclaimer: Although I have worked for a dermatology company before, my experience and opinion should not replace your doctor’s advice. For more serious skin problems, it is always best to consult a dermatologist.

Watch this video to find out how I minimize unsightly facial pores:

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