This is the age of chemical exfoliation – and it can get overwhelming. Gone are the days of focusing solely on your average toners and moisturisers; it’s all about the work of chemicals in skincare and the glowing results they achieve. What your skin really needs, what works best and where to start.

So let’s briefly discuss alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids – AHA’s and BHA’s. The big buzzwords and the magic phrases everyone wants to hear. A skincare product with either an AHA or BHA in it is bound to work – right? In my experience, yes. Utilising these chemicals in my skincare has given me skin results that I never thought I could achieve. They’re also really not as intimidating as they sound, and they can come very cheap too.


AHA’s and BHA’s are exfoliants that work to gently break down the dead skin cells on the topmost layer of skin to reduce clogged pores, excess oils and leaving an even and brighter skintone. As a non-abrasive, they dissolve the ‘cement’ binding the cells and quicken up the natural process of exfoliation dead skin cells and revealing the newer ones underneath, speeding up what our skin naturally does on a daily basis.

  • Hydrate skin.
  • Smoothen rough texture.
  • Lessen the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Reduce clogged pores.
  • Reduce breakouts.
  • Can help heal acne scarring.


If you have any concerns about the effects of AHA’s and BHA’s on your skin, it is best to consult a dermatologist or medical expert. While it is possible to begin using small amounts of acid exfoliation to see how your skin reacts, it can damage cells more if used improperly. With plenty of formats available, there will be something suitable for you – but do research it carefully before purchase. 



Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble and have small molecules that work on the top skin layer. Suitable for normal to dry skinned faces, it prompts the renewal of skin cells which is what creates a glowing complexion. AHA’s are also amazing at reducing any sun damage you may have and help protect the skin’s barrier against harmful particles.

Some AHA’s commonly found in skincare include glycolic acid, latic acid and citric acid. You’ve possible heard most about glycolic acid as it’s most commonly used in an array of toning products. It creates a visible effect in a short amount of time with continued use, due to having the smallest molecules to quickly permeate the skin. However if you have a drier complexion, it can dry your skin out with heavy use. Be sure to use a hydrating serum to moisturiser as a follow up.

AHA’s are one of the best things to introduce into your skincare routine as they are readily available on the market and an excellent starting point if you’re looking to improve your exfoliation tactics, coming in a range of strengths.



Beta hydroxy acids differ from AHA’s as they are oil-soluable. This makes them idea for those with oily complexions, as the acids can easily permeate the layers of oil without losing effectiveness. BHA’s also work inside pore walls themselves, not just on the upper layers of your skin. This is a chemical that can fight and prevent new blackheads from forming, along with breaking down prevailing ones on the surface. The acid also targets the formation of acne and pimples by clearing any toxins and dead cells from the surface, as well as pores. It focuses less on smoothing overall texture as a result, but can cause less irritation than AHA’s – ideal for sensitive skin.

To my knowledge and understanding, salycylic acid is the structural name for ‘BHA’ on the market, for use on your face. Generally in small percentages ranging from 1% to 2%, it can be found in face serums, oils or face masks. Depending on your needs, research the salicylic acid content of any product that interests you to gauge how effective it could be. It can be applied directly to any problem areas, or in a thin layer over your whole face and neck or chest. 



The most important rule to follow when using either an AHA or a BHA is to use a product with SPF at all times during the AM. In suncream, moisturiser, foundation – anything will do. These glowing new skin cells as a result of acid exfoliation need protected from harsh UV rays, otherwise they can become part of a bigger issue later in life – fine lines, wrinkles and an unhealthy complexion.

With so many variations of AHA and BHA on the market right now, this love affair is set to last a while. There’s so many formats available for everyone at different price points. At Wickbel, we encourage you to find something you’re comfortable using and give it a go – this is skincare that really works.



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