Tita's tips

Why should I use BHA or AHA, and what each of them does?

Our skin has several layers and it sheds on its own, it is a natural process. New skin cells are produced in the lower layers of skin. They then move to the surface, changing shape as they go, eventually dying and forming the outer, protective layer of skin. These dead skin cells on the surface are eventually shed as other cells from the lower layers travel to the surface and push them off, creating new “dead” layers of skin each time.

When we are young, skin cells are regenerated and turn over very quickly, and as we age, the rate of skin cell renewal changes ranging from about every three weeks through our teens and 20s, and then it slows as we age with the rate varying depending on the shape of skin. Sun damage and stages of menopause reduces the ability of skin cells to reproduce in a healthy normal manner. The shedding process on the surface of skin can also become inefficient, causing a build up of skin on the surface. Sun damage, loss of estrogen, dry skin, oily skin, and disorders such as psoriasis or rosacea can all effect how “smoothly” this natural exfoliation process takes place. When normal or healthy exfoliation doesn’t happen, skin can become rough, scaly, thickened, discoloured, and look more lined.

This is where AHA and BHA come in handy. AHA stands for alpha hydroxyl acids and BHA stands for beta hydroxyl acids. Generally speaking, they are exfoliants and they help to remove the built up outer layer of skin to uncover a more normal, younger-looking layer hiding beneath. The benefits are apparent within days of use, and skin continues to improve with ongoing use.

Paula's Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment 5% AHA. Image from www.paulaschoice-eu.com.

Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment 5% AHA. Image from http://www.paulaschoice-eu.com.

The primary difference between AHAs and BHA is that AHAs are water-soluble, while BHA is lipid-(oil) soluble. This unique property of BHA allows it to penetrate the oil in the pores and exfoliate accumulated skin cells inside the oil gland that can clog pores. BHA is best used where blackheads and blemishes are the issue, and AHAs are best for sun-damaged, thickened, dry skin where breakouts are not a problem.

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel. Image from www.paulaschoice-eu.com.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel. Image from http://www.paulaschoice-eu.com.

I would suggest you try with the lowest % of the AHAs and BHAs to see how your skin reacts, and start using them a few times a week as oppose to every day.

If you are still doubtful about whether they could make such a difference, just think of your feet. Before you get a pedicure the built-up dead layer of skin on your heels looks dry, rough, discoloured, scaly, and lines are pronounced. Once that layer is removed, and it can be removed fairly aggressively without damaging anything, your heels look much better. Moreover, once you apply moisturizer, which can now absorb better because it hasn’t been blocked by the proliferation of overproduced skin cells, you have “younger”-looking feet. You can start with getting a sample and see how your skin responds to it and to the brand and then make your final decision. 😀

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