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Difference Between AHA and BHA

stethoscopeAHA vs. BHA

When it comes to skin ex-foliation, AHA is very popular, but BHA seems to be gaining popularity. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acids, while BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acids. Both are used to dissolve and remove dead skin cells from the body to allow the living skin cells to appear. There are four major types of AHAs used for skin ex-foliation, while there is only one for BHA. Glycolic, malic, citric, lactic, and tartaric acids are all classified as AHAs, while only salicylic acid is under BHA.

The major difference between AHA and BHA is their solubility. AHAs are water soluble and do not penetrate very deep into the skin of the person, while BHAs are oil soluble and often do penetrate much deeper into the skin, even past the oil barrier of the face. AHAs are good for eliminating dead skin cells on the surface that are caused by sun damage. The oil solubility of BHAs make it better suited for clearing up clogged pores deep in the skin, so that they can be removed.

When it comes to skin ex-foliation, AHAs are the chemicals of choice, as they are more readily available for the general public. Certain special conditions can make BHA more desirable than AHAs. People with skin that becomes irritated when using AHAs should look into BHAs, as they are much less likely to cause skin irritations. Despite going further into the skin, BHA’s close relation to aspirin prevents people from having any adverse reaction to it. BHA is also advised for people who have very oily skin, as that prevents the penetration of AHA, thereby reducing its efficacy.

Regardless of whether you use AHAs or BHA, the end results will very likely be identical. Both chemicals are very effective in removing dead skin cells, and promoting the growth and health of living skin cells. Users of products that contain AHA and BHA should not concern themselves with which type is in their skin care product unless they experience some adverse reaction to the one that they are using.


1. There is only one type of BHA, while there are five for AHA.

2. AHAs are water soluble, while BHA is oil soluble.

3. AHAs are better suited for removing dead skin cells, while BHAs are better in removing accumulated dirt in the pores.

4. BHAs are less irritating to the skin compared to AHAs.

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  1. Hi! I thought there are only 4 types of AHA. In the summary it says 5. Nevertheless it’s a very helpful explanation. Thanks for this!

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