What are AHA, BHA, and PHA in skin care?

A decent skincare routine can’t without an excellent exfoliator. It helps to remove dead skin cells, keeps pores clean and gives you a radiant glow. But finding a good exfoliator for your skin type, can feel a bit rocket science when you don’t know what the AHA’s, BHA’s and PHA’s mean. Don’t worry, this article is to the rescue. 

Basically AHA’s, BHA’s and PHA’s are acid types, made to exfoliate the skin and to increase cell renewal. Because of that, when applying, you can feel a tingeling sensation.

It’s important to know that no acid type is better than the other, but AHA’s and BHA’s makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. So when using it, use an SPF as well, or use it in the evening. Which acid you need, depends on your skin type and the needs of your skin. Let’s find out more about AHA’s, BHA’s and PHA’s, so you can decide which one is best for your skin type. 


AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acids. These are naturally acids- found in fruit, milk and sugarcanes, and they are water soluble. The two most important AHA’s are Glycolic acid and Lactic acid. Glycolic acid is used for whitening treatments and as an anti-aging ingredient. While Lactic acid is used to prevent skin dryness. Which makes AHA excellent for dry and mature skin.


  • Moisturizes the skin and gives a radiant glow
  • Treats sun damage, dark spots, scars and makes the skin more even
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles


The complete name is Beta Hydroxy Acids. The most popular one is Salicylic acid, which helps to get rid of dull cells. BHA’s are oil soluble, and therefor excellent when you’re struggling with an oily T-zone. The acid can get underneath the oil on your skin and also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. As a result, they remove acne, soothes redness, and calms the skin.


  • Removes oil in the pores
  • Powerful treatment against acne and blackheads
  • Anti-inflammatory qualities and soothes redness


PHA is short for Poly Hydroxy Acids, and it’s the second generation AHA’s. They work similar as AHA’s, but the molecules of PHA’s are much larger and therefore can’t penetrate as deeply as AHA’s and BHA’s. So they work only on the surface, which makes it an ideal treatment for the extreme sensitive skin (like eczema and atopic rosacea). The most common PHA’s are Gluconolactone, Galactose and Lactobionic.


  • Moisturizes the skin and gives a radiant glow
  • Works like an antioxidant 
  • Wonderful for sensitive skin


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