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What Are the Benefits of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids for Your Skin?

October 28, 2021 5 min read

We've all heard how important exfoliating is for having brighter, softer, and younger-looking skin. Did you know that hydroxy acids are one of the greatest winners in this category? This is because they are scientifically supported, drawn from nature, soft on the skin, and suitable for most skin types.

So let's go through what they are and which ones you may employ to treat your skin problems.


  • What Exactly Are Hydroxy Acids?
  • AHAs (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) BHAs (Beta-Hydroxy Acids) 
  • AHAs And BHAs can Be Used Together?

What Exactly Are Hydroxy Acids?

Hydroxy acids act as chemical exfoliators. This method of exfoliation employs acids that penetrate deep into the skin, cleaning up blocked pores and improving cell turnover ratio. They have a long lasting impact on the skin. However, if you have sensitive skin, your dermatologist may advise you to use them in lesser amounts.

Hydroxy acids work their way through your skin, unclogging pores that are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Some hydroxy acids also regulate sebum production. This inhibits the development of acne vulgaris.

There are two kinds of hydroxy acids:

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)

Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)

What Effect Do They Have On Your Skin?

  • Get rid of dead skin cells.
  • Improve the cell turnover ratio.
  • has anti-inflammatory effects
  • Reduce the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Acne prevention
  • Skin texture is improved

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHAs are soluble in water. This implies they dissolve quickly in water. They are made from fruits and act as exfoliants by gently peeling off the topmost layer of your skin. This exposes new skin cells, giving your skin a more even, healthy, smooth, and firm appearance. They are suggested in concentrations ranging from 10% to 15%.

AHAs do not penetrate deeper layers of your skin and are typically used to treat skin issues such as:

  • Spots of ageing
  • Spots caused by the sun
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Enlarged pores

Although AHAs are generally regarded safe for all skin types, they can be mildly drying and irritate sensitive skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, start by using AHA-based products with modest concentrations once or twice a week. If there is no response and the product does not irritate your skin, you may gradually add it into your everyday skincare routine.

There are six main AHAs:

  1. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is the smallest alpha-hydroxy acid. This property enables it to enter deeper levels of the dermis and preserve healthy skin. This sugarcane-derived hydroxy acid is widely utilised in a variety of cosmetic products.


Glycolic acid is a fantastic exfoliator. It absorbs dead skin cells that have collected on the surface of the skin. This allows fresh and healthy cells to be exposed, making your skin seem more luminous.

  Increases Collagen Production

Collagen is a protein that is fibrous and present in the dermis. It holds your skin together and prevents drooping. Collagen levels normally decline as we age. The sun's rays may also aid in the breakdown of this protein.

Glycolic acid increases collagen formation in the deeper layers of your skin by working its way through the dermis. Because of this, it is helpful at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

 Effective in Acne Treatment

Glycolic acid, in addition to being an efficient exfoliant, also contains antibacterial qualities that make it useful in the treatment of mild to moderate acne.


Humectants draw moisture from the air onto your skin. This keeps your skin moisturised. When used in moisturisers, glycolic acid works effectively in drawing moisture to the skin's surface. This component can be found in a variety of chemical peels.

  1. Citric acid

Citric acid, obtained from citrus fruits, is healthy to your skin in a variety of ways.

Maintains Skin's pH Levels

The pH of the skin ranges from 4.7 to 5.7. Pollution, UV damage, and potentially toxic cosmetic products may all disrupt your skin's pH levels. As a result, it is prone to a variety of skin problems. Citric acid aids in the maintenance of Skin's high pH levels and contributes to its smooth texture.

Antibacterial Activity

Citric acid has antibacterial capabilities, which allow it to destroy acne-causing microorganisms. This may help to avoid acne symptoms.

Protects against sun damage

Citric acid is a natural bleaching agent that aids in the reduction of dark spots, tan, and pigmentation. It can also improve the effectiveness of topically applied sunscreens.


  1. Malic Acid

Malic acid is a mixture of AHA and BHA. It is produced from apple acids and may be less efficient in treating skin issues on its own. It is suggested to use it in conjunction with other alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, to assist minimise skin problems.

  1. Mandelic Acid

Almonds are the source of Mandelic acid. It treats a variety of skin problems and rejuvenates your skin, increasing its texture and vitality.


Mandelic acid can be used in conjunction with other AHAs to speed up exfoliation. It eliminates dead skin cell buildup, revealing fresh, healthy skin cells beneath.

Acne Treatment

Mandelic acid has antibacterial qualities in addition to exfoliating capabilities. This makes it an excellent choice for treating mild to moderate acne and comedones. The acid also enhances texture and decreases the appearance of enlarged pores.

  1. Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is generated from sour milk/curd, as the name implies.It is incredibly soft on the skin, which contributes to its smooth texture. Lactic acid may be a suitable alternative if you have sensitive skin. Lactic acid has the ability to make your skin "as smooth as milk." Its hydrating characteristics might help to relieve dry skin. Lactic acid also strengthens the skin's barrier properties. It aids in the retention of moisture in the skin, allowing it to remain moisturised and supple.

  1. Tartaric Acid

Tartaric acid is a kind of alpha-hydroxy acid derived from grape extracts. It is normally suggested to use it in conjunction with glycolic or lactic acid to speed up exfoliation.



  1. Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

BHAs are oil-soluble exfoliants that work their way into the skin's deeper layers. This makes them more useful in addressing oily skin concerns. They exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin cells and excess sebum, unclogging pores and decreasing inflammation and acne symptoms.

BHAs work their way into your skin's deep layers, unclogging pores and reducing sebum production. If you have sensitive skin, BHAs may not be suitable for you. They remove unneccessary oils from the skin and might make it more sensitive and irritated. BHAs, on the other hand, may be particularly useful in treating skin disorders such as acne and rosacea on oily skin.

BHAs Are Divided Into Two Types:

  1. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is the most widely used BHA and a prominent component in the cosmetics sector. It is suggested in doses ranging from 0.5% to 5%. Salicylic acid is applied topically to treat mild to severe acne. It works by entering the skin and absorbing all of the dirt and debris that is obstructing your pores. This decreases acne outbreaks and symptoms such as redness and irritation

  1. Citric Acid

Although citric acid is typically classed as an alpha hydroxy, it can also be classified as a beta hydroxy in some forms. Citric acid can be used to dry up excess sebum beneath the skin and to eliminate dead skin cells from within the pores.

AHAs And BHAs can Be Used Together?

AHAs and BHAs have a lot to give your skin when utilised in the appropriate concentrations. However, if you don't consider the timing of application, the concentration levels of the components, and the sensitivity of your skin, they might dry up your skin and create irritation.

Although the word "acid" seems like it may cause havoc on your skin, hydroxy-acids are beneficial in a variety of ways. Consult your dermatologist about which hydroxy-acids will help you with your skin problems.

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