Difference Between AHA and BHA in Cosmetics

AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid) are two common ways to exfoliate the skin and counter acnes and also as anti-aging to reduce wrinkles, sagging skin and other signs of old-age. AHA and BHA can be found in most beauty and cosmetic products.


AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid is found in cosmetic products which are offering to produce a youthful skin to the users. Glycolic (from sugar) and Lactic acid (from milk) are two of the most used AHAs in skin care products. Since AHA is an acid, users should consult skin care experts first before using a certain product because instead of giving a youthful skin, it may burn the user’s skin.


Salicylic acid is the widely used example of BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid. And it is also the sole acid belonging to BHA that is used in skin care products. It is a proven treatment for acnes and pimples since salicylic acid is soluble oil which means that it is able to penetrate deep into the skin pores. Lately, salicylic acid is now also contained in anti-aging products.

Difference Between AHA and BHA

Scientifically speaking, AHA happens in the carbon chain during the Alpha position in the same way as BHA in the beta position. There are five types of AHAs (tartaric, glycolic, lactic, malic, and citric acid) while there is only one BHA that is mentioned above which is salicylic acid. For the damaged skin and for old-aged skin, AHA products are the most suitable products to be used and Salicylic Acid is suitable for oily, acnes, and pimple. User should choose AHA products with concentration of 5-10% and BHA products with concentration level of 1-2%.

Either you are using skin care products for skin diseases or just plainly vanity; always remember that excessive use of unprescribed AHA and BHA products may damage your skin. Just like other acids, these products could cause irritation, itchiness and redness of the skin if improperly used.

In brief:

• AHAs have five types namely: tartaric, glycolic, lactic, malic, and citric acid while BHA has only one type called Salicylic acid.

• AHA skin care products are suited for damaged and old-aged skin whereas BHA products are for acnes, pimples and oily skins.

• Excessive use of unprescribed AHA and BHA products may damage the skin.