Choose the right hydroxy acid for your skincare needs and you’ll find your skin looking more bright, clear and youthful today!

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May be you’ve heard about hydroxy acids. They are outstanding at smoothing, tightening, firming and brightening your skin. But each different hydroxy acid has its own special benefits that you should consider when working with your skin type. If you know nothing about them except that they’re in your skincare products, it’s time to take on a quick lesson of the types of hydroxy acids and what they can do for you.


The first thing you should know is that there are three categories:

  • α-hydroxy acids,
  • β-hydroxy acids and
  • γ-hydroxy acids
  • They are derived naturally from food and plant sources. AHAs (α-hydroxy acids) can be dissolved in water while BHA (β-hydroxy acids) is oil-soluble. Beyond that though, they can be broken down into further categories. Here’s the rundown.

    Salicylic Acid

    Salicylic Acid

    Salicylic Acid

    This naturally-occurring BHA comes from willow bark. It’s oil-soluble so it can clear deep in the pores, unclogging them and clearing up blemish-prone skin. It also helps prevent future breakouts and has the power to correct dark spots. Because it comes from willow bark, it has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a safe and very soothing choice for those with problematic skin types.

    Glycolic Acid

    Glycolic Acid

    Derived from sugarcane, this AHA is highly regarded by skincare professionals for its outstanding performance. It can get deep into the skin, all the way to the dermis, which stimulates collagen production. Basically, that means it has the power to reduce deep-set wrinkles. It’s great for dry skin too because it draws in moisture and replenishes hyaluronic acid in your skin.

    Lactic Acid

    Lactic Acid

    Lactic acid comes from many different sources, however the most common of them is sour milk. It’s similar to glycolic acid in that it exfoliates while increasing moisture levels for the top layers of the skin and helps it resist dryness. This AHA is ideal for lightening skin and because it has a larger molecular structure, it’s a gentler option than glycolic acid. Sensitive skin types like lactic acid because of this, plus it helps reduce lines and wrinkles and speeds up cell turnover so sunspots vanish away.

    Mandelic Acid

    Mandelic Acid

    This AHA comes from bitter almonds and wild cherries. It is truly an AHA of all trades as it can smooth away fine lines, firm up skin, even out discoloration, improve elasticity, and clear up acne. Like lactic acid, it’s great for sensitive skin.

    Citric Acid

    Citric Acid

    Citric acid comes from citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. It gives off that natural citrusy scent and has antimicrobial properties that make it ideal for acne treatment. It thickens the skin but it is less effective than lactic or glycolic acid when it comes to blending away dark spots or signs of photo-aging.


    Safety of AHA

    AHAs are generally safe when used on the skin as a cosmetic agent using the recommended dosage. The most common side-effects are mild skin irritations, redness and flaking. The severity usually depends on the pH and the concentration of the acid used. Chemical peels tend to have more severe side-effects including blistering, burning and skin discoloration, although they are usually mild and go away a day or two after treatment.



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