Your Guide to Skincare Acids

skincare acids aha bha glycolic salicylic

Confused between AHA and BHA? Not sure which skin acid to choose? It can be overwhelming and confusing with so many options now available on the market. Skincare acids should be included in every skincare regime. Whether you want to improve acne, uneven skin tone, pigmentation or lacklustre skin, there is an acid that will make a difference! This guide will help you understand the difference and choose the correct product. 


Most popular AHA’s include glycolic, lactic and malic acids. 

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid. They are water-soluble acids which work mostly on the skin’s surface. AHA’s help remove dead skin cells, promote collagen synthesis, restores moisture, help fade light pigmentation. Suitable for all skin types (even sensitive), however, those with very dry/ sensitive skin, should be careful and begin slow and low (start with lowest concentration) and observe how your skin reacts to it. 


One of the most common BHA is salicylic acid. 

BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid. If you want a truly deep cleanse, BHA is perfect! They are oil-soluble acids which get deeper to unclog pores and remove excess sebum. Most commonly used for acne and sun damage.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps increase cell turnover. 


Most popular acids include gluconolactone and lactobionic acid.

Poly Hydroxy Acids, have the largest molecules compared to AHAs and BHAs. They penetrate the skin more slowly, which means they are less irritating and more suitable for sensitive skin and skin with a damaged barrier. PHAs bind moisture to the skin and acts as antioxidants. 


One of the most popular active ingredients in acne skincare products. It helps keep pores clear, has anti-bacterial properties, and reduces inflammation. It is also useful for fading post-acne marks. 


Kojic acid is produced by bacteria used in the fermentation of rice. It is a very effective skin whitening ingredient, however, it can be very irritating to the skin and increase skin sensitivity. 


Ferulic acid is a plant-based antioxidant used in anti-aging skin care products.  It helps fight free radicals and boosts the effectiveness of other antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E.


It is a potent antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. It also increases collagen and elastin production, prevents sun damage, and helps even out and brighten the skin. People with sensitive skin should be careful and start with the lowest concentration.



Always start slow and low! Depending on your skin concerns, begin with a cleanser, toner or a serum with the lowest concentration. Introduce it gradually and use the product only 1-2 times a week until your skin builds up a tolerance.


Generally yes, but you should always consult your skin therapist. It is important to understand PH of different products and choose concentrations that are suitable for individual skin.


Skin acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it is always recommended to use high-factor SPF and avoid too much sun exposure as it can lead hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.