The Best Skin-Care Products That Contain AHAs or BHAs, According to Our Editors
Exfoliation is a critical part of any skin-care routine. To do it, you can use a physical exfoliant to slough away dead skin cells or take the chemical exfoliant approach, which typically involves the use of alpha-hydroxy-acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy-acids (BHAs). These ingredients can target concerns like uneven skin tone, texture issues, acne and fine lines and wrinkles. Common AHAs found in skin-care products like toners, moisturizers and cleansers are glycolic acid and lactic acid and the most common BHA is salicylic acid. To help you narrow down which chemical exfoliant is best for you, we’re explaining the differences between them and sharing some of our favorites below.
The Differences Between AHAs and BHAs and the Benefits of Each
While both AHAs and BHAs are used to exfoliate the skin, they do have some key differences. AHAs are water-soluble and are typically derived from sources like fruit, plants and milk. AHAs also have more hydrating properties than BHAs, making them a great candidate for drier skin types. They are also great for diminishing fine lines, wrinkles and improving overall skin tone. BHAs are oil-soluble, so they are best for exfoliating pores and targeting acne. You can learn more about their differences, here
Our Favorite Products That Contain Chemical Exfoliants
Perfect for oily and acne-prone skin, this toner contains lipo-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid and glycolic acid help to unclog pores and slough away dead skin cells, so your face is left feeling smooth, soft and prepped for moisturizer.
Looking for a product that will address the appearance of large pores? Test out this AHA serum. Formulated with glycolic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid, the pore-minimizing serum works to smooth out your skin texture and boost radiance. Plus, it has a lightweight, non-greasy texture that absorbs quickly.
Opting for a face wash that exfoliates as it cleanses will leave your face feeling fresh and grime-free. This Kiehl’s option is gentle enough to be used every day and doesn’t strip the skin. And with ingredients like Amazonian white clay and salicylic acid, it detoxifies pores and absorbs excess oil too.
It’s important to give some TLC to the skin on our bodies, too. Enter this SkinFix AHA body cream. With a blend of AHAs, the lime-scented lotion exfoliates away dead skin cells to help smooth and soften. What’s more, it helps reduce bumps on your arms and legs caused by keratosis pilaris.
This two-part, 28-day, nighttime treatment is the real deal. The product is a liquid, leave-on peel that’s split up into two phases, each with a separate formula. Phase one, which is used during the first 14 days of treatment, targets skin texture, the appearance of pores and brightness of skin tone. Phase two, which is used during the second 14 days of treatment, contains BHAs and AHAs. This phase targets dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
This SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Cleanser is a foaming gel cleanser that contains 8% glycolic acid, aloe leaf juice and glycerin. It gently exfoliates and hydrates the skin, so your face is left looking bright and feeling hydrated.
Combat flakiness with this dermatologist-developed, professional-grade glycolic acid exfoliating facial peel. With a 30% concentration of glycolic acid, it minimizes the appearance of dry skin and large pores. It also contains calendula, chamomile and cucumber extract to calm and soothe the skin.