You have probably heard that exfoliants are good for your skin and you may recognise the following acronyms; AHA, BHA and PHA. But what do they really mean and what do these acids do for your skin? And most importantly of all, which one is best for you?

The one thing these acid types all have in common is that they are designed to exfoliate the skin, which means they help loosen up the top layer of dead skin cells – these cells are ready to fall off on their own but can be gently removed in order to make way for new, younger skin cells. This results in the skin taking on a more even surface and a healthier appearance – we refer to this as radiance or glow. Let us take a more in-depth look into these different kinds of acids!


AHA, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids that are naturally found in fruit, milk, sugarcane etc. AHA exfoliates on different degrees, where glycolic acid is the most powerful. It helps to stimulate our skins’ cell regeneration process, which is perfect for mature skin because the cell renewal process is slower than in more youthful skin. This exfoliating effect helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as work on pigmentation deep within the skin. It also works well on dry skin – choose a lactic acid as it will help to lock moisture into your skin. Mandelic acid is also a part of this group, and with its anti inflammatory properties it makes it great for more sensitive skin or people suffering with acne.

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Treats pigmentation, sun damage and evens out the skin tone
  • Locks in moisture and gives radiance
  • Reduces fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin and scars
  • Excellent for dry or mature skin


BHA, or Beta Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids, and within skin care we predominantly use salicylic acid. This acid (which can be found in aspirin!) naturally occurs in the white willow tree (salix alba) and contains anti inflammatory properties. It is also fat soluble which makes it great for oily skin with blocked pores, or inflamed acne. Salicylic acid works its way deep into the pores and dissolves sebum, which in turn improves the condition of the pores. Mature skin with fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage can also benefit well from BHA.

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Dissolves oil in the pores
  • Effective treatment against acne and blackheads
  • Anti-inflammatory properties and soothes redness


PHA, or Poly Hydroxy Acids are a group of acids that work their magic slowly, which is great for sensitive skin that is prone to irritation and redness which can come from using AHA. PHA has a larger molecular structure than AHA, which means it penetrates the skin more slowly and therefore doesn’t exfoliate as powerfully as acids with a smaller molecular structure.  These mild acids are perfect for all types of sensitive and/or dry skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea. Mature skin can also benefit from the antioxidant properties which protect the skin’s’ collagen from breaking down. Examples of PHA in the skin care world is gluconolactone or lactobionic acid.

  • Exfoliates the skin and increases cell renewal
  • Locks in plenty of moisture
  • Works like an antioxidant
  • Ideal for sensitive skin and rosacea

Products with the highest concentration of AHAs

Products with the highest concentration of BHAs

Products with the highest concentration of PHAs

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