AHA vs BHA Acid: Different Kinds of Chemical Peels

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AHA vs BHA Acid? Which Chemical Peel is Right for Your Skin?

Is your skin feeling dull? Dealing with acne breakouts? Sounds like a facial peel is in order. A peel is your go-to exfoliation treatment to remove dead skin cells and surface debris. Making use of either an AHA or BHA acid, a chemical peel is an all-around great skin-maintenance tool to reveal fresh, smooth skin. So AHA vs. BHA — which one is right for you? That depends on both your skin type and skincare goals. Here’s more:

What’s AHA vs BHA? Are There Different Kinds of Chemical Peels?

There are many different chemical peels that achieve different results for the skin. They vary by:

  1. The type of acid they are derived from: Either an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or a beta hydroxy acid (BHA).
  2. The concentration of acid: a higher percentage solution is more concentrated and, thus, produces a deeper skin peel.

What is an AHA Exfoliant Acid?

AHAs are water-soluble acids that are typically derived from fruit, milk or nut acids. They work by dissolving the lipids and proteins at the cellular level that hold the dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. Types of AHAs include:

Glycolic acid: sugar cane derived
Lactic acid:  milk derived
Mandelic acid: bitter almond derived
Tartaric acid: grape derived
Malic acid: apple and pear derived
Citric acid: citrus derived 

What is a BHA Exfoliant Acid?

BHA’s are oil-soluble acids that penetrate deeper into the skin. They not only dissolve oil, sebum and dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, but can stabilize the lining of the pores. The most common BHA Acids are:

Salicylic acid: tree derived
Citric acid: Can be a BHA, depending on formulation

AHA vs BHA: Is AHA or BHA Better?

Neither AHA or BHA acid is a better exfoliant. Which one you choose depends on:

  • The type of skin you have, and
  • the results you are looking to achieve with your chemical peel treatment.

Should I use AHA or BHA? Which Chemical Peel is Right for my Skin?

AHA acids are water lovers, making them a great solution for restoring adequate hydration levels to the skin. This makes them highly effective for:

  • dry skin, 
  • sensitive skin, 
  • normal skin, and/or
  • people looking to achieve overall skin renewal. 


On the other BHA acids penetrate deeper, have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. This makes them great for:

  • acne prone, 
  • congested and/or 
  • problematic skin. 

What is an AHA Chemical Peel Good for?

AHA acids work well for:

  • Treating mild hyperpigmentation like age spots and dark marks
  • Reducing enlarged pores
  • Minimizing fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • Restoring a smooth, even skin tone
  • Revealing healthy, glowing skin

What is a BHA Chemical Peel Good for?

BHA acids are typically used for:

  • Restoring balance to acne prone or congested skin
  • Relieving rosacea and reducing inflammation
  • Reversing photoaging and hyperpigmentation
  • Restoring a smooth, even skin tone
  • Revealing healthy, glowing skin

Can I Use AHA and BHA at the Same Time? Will AHA and BHA Work Together?

So what if you have both dry and acne prone skin, for example? The answer is that you can use both AHA and BHA. However, you shouldn’t use them at the same time and/or layer an AHA over a BHA (or vice versa). It’s best to alternate use of an AHA acid and a BHA acid. That said, we can’t stress enough how important it is to skip the DIY Chemical Peel experimentation on this one. Using a combination of AHA and BHA is best left to a skincare professional. Stick with:

  • a professional esthetician 
  • with experience handling chemical solutions
  • of a variety of concentrations
  • on many skin types
  • in a controlled setting like a Medical Spa. 

Where to Get a Chemical Peel in NYC? What’s the Best Med Spa for a Chemical Peel Near Me?

Smooth Synergy’s estheticians know how to use Chemical Peel solutions at stronger concentrations with an unparalleled level of safety, in order to provide superior results for your skin. Take advantage of their skill, education and expertise by scheduling a consultation with one of our Experts in Beauty. She will explain our comprehensive menu of chemical peels and help you decide which one of our nine formulations, as well as which concentration, is right for you. Call us at 212-397-0111 to learn more.

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