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Beauty jargon decoded

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Library Image. Getty Images

Library Image. Getty Images

Library Image. Getty Images

Ever wondered what AHAs, BHAs and PHAs really mean as you browse the beauty counter?

Ever feel a bit baffled by beauty jargon? Left perplexed by product packaging?

Well, it’s hardly surprising. With AHAs, BHAs and PHAs to keep track of, browsing the beauty counters can require some degree of skill.

Here are some tips to help you pick the right product for your skin type.

AHA

AHA is short for Alfa Hydroxy Acids, chemical compounds often found in beauty products claiming to reduce signs of ageing.

In lower concentrations AHAs are moisturising, in higher concentrations they can be exfoliating.

They are sometimes used in higher concentrations by dermatologists as chemical peels.

The most common ones are glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid. Glycolic acid, having the smallest molecular size, is the AHA with greatest bioavailability and penetrates the skin most easily. AHAs are good for sun damaged and dry skin.

BHA

BHA is short for Beta Hydroxy Acid, another word for salicylic acid, with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action.

It exfoliates dead skin cells and sebum and is good for oily, acne-prone skin and for treating blackheads and white bumps. It’s also good for sensitive and reddened skin.

PHA

PHA stands for Poly Hydroxy Acid, also referred to as ‘the next generation’s AHA’. Due to larger molecules the PHA won’t penetrate skin as quickly as AHA and is milder for skin. Because of this, sensitive skin such as rosacea, atopic dermatitis, eczema, seborrhoea and even some cases of psoriasis can now enjoy the anti-ageing benefits formerly only associated with the more skin irritating AHA.



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