Grooming Editor

Ingredient Focus: AHAs and BHAs

Suffering with dry, flaky and sensitive skin certainly isn’t pleasant. It only makes matters worse when your exfoliator contains grainy particles and scrubs your delicate skin. There is a much gentler option available for your exfoliating needs though, which is actually more effective. If you’re looking for a solution to regenerating your complexion and revealing brighter skin, then AHA and BHA ingredients in your skincare products could quite possibly change your routine forever. So let’s look at everything you need about AHAs and BHAs and what they do to benefit your daily skincare regime.

What Exactly Are AHAs and BHAs?

AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid, whilst BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. Sounds a little bit scary, but don’t be alarmed by the word acid; these ingredients are highly effective and can be very gentle. In fact, if you have used any products including Glycolic, Lactic, Tartaric, Citric, Malic, Salicylic or Mandelic Acid, then you’ve used an AHA or BHA probably without even realising it. Derived from fruit, milk and other natural sources, they’re safe to use on the skin despite the seemingly threatening ‘acid’ label.

What Does AHA and BHA In Skincare Do?

The main differences between AHAs and BHAs are that AHAs exfoliate the surface of the skin, moisturise skin and build collagen. BHAs exfoliate both the surface of the skin and inside pores, dry out skin and have been shown to reduce inflammation. Due to these qualities, people who only want to solve sun damage issues and dry skin usually opt for AHAs whereas those with acne, rosacea and other skin inflammation issues opt for BHAs.

Mankind Recommends

Many skincare products contain both AHAs and BHAs. Here at Mankind, we recommend a select few which should become staples within your grooming routine. To keep your lips soft, smooth and protected all year round, the Murad Soothing Skin and Lip Care salve provides immediate relief. It deals with chapped lips and minor skin irritations by sealing in long lasting moisture whilst gently smoothing and exfoliating. For general exfoliation across the face to prevent skin thickening and peeling, opt for PAYOT Melting Exfoliating Gel. More gentle than abrasive exfoliating scrubs, you’ll be left with brighter, softer and clearer skin with an even tone. Not to mention it will effectively smoothen and refine your complexion. For those suffering with acne, the Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel is a great investment. It’s both oil and fragrance free to prevent further skin aggravation whilst settling present skin issues.


As with all ingredients, AHAs and BHAs also have their downsides. Both AHAs and BHAs increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays so investing in an SPF will protect your skin from sun damage. It’s also important to avoid products containing BHAs if you are allergic to aspirins, This way you can be sure to avoid an allergic reaction from your skincare product.

Don’t forget to browse our other ingredient focuses here on the blog.

What is your take on using AHAs and BHAs in skincare?



Writer and expert

Creative storyteller. Believer in the power of natural ingredients and cruelty-free formulas. Always puts skincare first for a no-makeup look.