Alpha Hydroxy Acid vs. Beta Hydroxy Acid


When it comes to acids, there has been an increase in popularity in some such as hyaluronic acid and retinoic acid. But two big ones found on the market, alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid, don't get as much as attention.

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)

AHA can cause shedding of the surface skin, per the FDA, which is why this ingredient is found in products that work to exfoliate the skin or those that advertise resurfacing such as peels or scrubs. 

This acid is also a great agent to fight signs of aging since it helps with cell turnover and collagen production. 

This acid is perfect for those who struggle with dead skin build up, fine lines or are looking for a little stronger exfoliation.

Beta hydroxy acid (BHA)

According to the FDA, BHA ingredients may be listed as:

  • salicylic acid (or related substances, such as salicylate, sodium salicylate, and willow extract),

  • beta hydroxybutanoic acid,

  • tropic acid,

  • trethocanic acid.

Most commonly, BHA is listed as salicylic acid, which can be used to fight acne. It can also be used to control oily skin as well as reduce the appearance of blackheads and hyperpigmentation, according to Healthline.

More in Ingredients