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AHA vs BHA Chemical Peels: two types of acid, different functions & results at Lift Laser and Beauty

Around here, at Lift Laser and Beauty, we regard AHA and/or BHA chemical peels akin to a holy grail. Their capacity to effectively address almost any skin concern such as acne, fine lines, and uneven skin tone make it one of the most populat treatments. (Kim loves them so much. Just ask her and watcher her light up!)

When we're talking about peels you'll hear about AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids). While both offer impressive results, it's essential to understand the differences between these two chemical peels so that you know what yours is supposed to be doing and so we can chose the right one(s) for your skin concerns.

Chemical peels slough of the skin, This is the beginning of day two after a peel.
An example of beginning of day two after a chemical peel.

AHA: Alpha Hydroxy Acids Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHAs, are water-soluble acids from fruits, milk, and sugar cane. (see, no need to get all freaked out about the name: chemical peel, lol) At Lift Laser and Beauty the AHAs we love the most are: glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid. Here's why:

  1. Surface Exfoliation: AHAs primarily work on the skin's surface by efficiently removing dead skin cells. They are excellent for addressing concerns like dullness, fine lines, and sun damage.

  2. Water-Soluble: AHAs are water-soluble, making them perfect for clients with dry or sensitive skin. Despite the fact that they peel off dead skin, they're also known for being hydrating overall.

  3. Boosting Collagen Production: Some AHAs, such as glycolic acid, stimulate collagen production, helping with skin firmness and elasticity.

  4. Treatment of Hyperpigmentation: AHAs can help fade dark spots, acne scars, and uneven skin tone.

  5. Mild Irritation: AHAs cause mild irritation or redness, especially at higher concentrations or during initial use.

  6. Best for Dry and Sun-Damaged Skin: AHAs are ideal for those with dry, mature, or sun-damaged skin seeking rejuvenation and exfoliation.

BHA: Beta Hydroxy Acids Beta Hydroxy Acids, or BHAs, are almost always associated with salicylic acid, well-known as an ingredient in acne care. There are a couple of others, but they're never used and we don't talk about them. (like a weird skelton in the closet, lol) BHAs offer distinct advantages compared to AHAs (I guess we should be saying BHA, not plural, now that we know we're really only referring to salicylic acid, lol):

  1. Deeper Penetration: this BHA can penetrate pores, making them the go-to for clients dealing with acne and blackheads.

  2. Oil Solubility: BHAs are oil-soluble, which allows them to break down excess oil, making them ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

  3. Treatment of Acne and Acne Scars: BHAs unclog pores, potentially reducing the onset of new blemishs and minimizing scars.

  4. Less Irritation: BHAs are generally better tolerated by clients with sensitive skin and are less likely to cause surface irritation vs AHAs.

  5. Exfoliation and Skin Smoothing: While BHAs do exfoliate the skin, they are milder than AHAs in terms of surface exfoliation. Clients with sensitive skin looking for milder exfoliation can choose BHAs

Which one do I choose? Sometimes it's just an AHA, for surface exfoliation and hydrating effects, great for dry and sun-damaged skin that's best for you. Sometimes it's just a BHA , which offers deep pore penetration, making it ideal for those with oily, acne-prone skin, that's best. Sometimes it's a combination like in a Jessner peel (that's a different post for a different day). But, ultimately the peel we choose depends on your specific concerns and your tolerance for downtime.

AHA or BHA or combination, we love the results you can achieve with peels here at Lift Laser and Beauty.

Remember when choosing peels as treatment you'll need to plan on prioritizing sun protection.


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