How BHA differ from other acids, what they’re good for, and how and when you should use them if you dream of perfect skin.
What are BHA acids? How are they different from others?
Skin renewal is a natural process; old cells die off, and new cells replace them. Regular exfoliation of cells accelerates the renewal of the epidermis and skin regeneration. The skin becomes smooth and elastic and acquires a beautiful, healthy color. Today, for the exfoliation of dead cells, the most relevant is the use of acids, they cope with their task ten times more effectively than other means.
In cosmetology, often only one acid is used, which belongs to the class of salicylates found in the bark of white willow (Salix alba) – salicylic beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). BHA acids are the hydroxyl portion of a molecule that is separated from the acidic portion by two carbon atoms.
BHA, or betahydroxy acids, work inside the pores. The main difference between BHA is that they are fat-soluble and can therefore penetrate deep into the pores through the sebum layer of the skin, removing dead cells from the inside and dissolving black spots. And since they have more antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, they significantly reduce sebum production in the sebaceous glands.
The essential difference between BHA acids and other acids is their concentration, which is 1-2%, and the pH up to 4. Usage of acids with a lower concentration at home does not give the expected effect, and more concentrated acids can lead to burns.
What skin types are best suited for BHA?
As the main purpose and principle of action of the BHA-acids is to remove the inflammation process, suppress the sebaceous glands activity, stop the spreading of pathogenic bacteria, we recommend their usage for treating problem skin (acne, inflammatory acne, post-acne), oily skin, combination skin or skin prone to oiliness.
In this case the keratolytic promotes cell renewal, reduces the thickness of the stratum corneum, evens out skin relief, smoothes superficial wrinkles, lightens superficial pigmentation, improves the complexion.
What is the right way to use BHA-acids: season and time of day, which products should/should not be used together with them?
It is advisable to use BHA acids from October till April. Since acids can make your skin more photosensitive by constantly exfoliating the stratum corneum, make sure to protect your skin from the sun by regularly using products with an SPF of at least 30.
Creams with a protective factor of less than 30 are ineffective, which can cause pigmented spots on your skin. I recommend protecting your skin by applying iS Clinical’s Extreme Protect SPF 30 sunscreen as the final step after care.
At home, BHA acids can be used daily or as needed, but are best applied at night, again due to photosensitivity. BHA acids work very well together with AHA acids: together, they provide complete exfoliation and cell renewal. The AHAs work on the surface, while the BHAs penetrate deep into the pores. A perfect balance of AHAs and BHAs is found, for example, in iS Clinical’s Active Serum.
After exposure of the skin to acids, dryness and discomfort occur, so it is very important to use any acids together with hyaluronic acid-based moisturizers to avoid dehydration of the skin. One such powerful moisturizer is Clinical’s Hydra-Cool Serum.
There are some products with which BHA acids should not be used in combination. For example, products that contain retinol. Retinol increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which may lead to pigmentation or even sunburn, and its ability to affect sebum activity may cause the skin’s protective barrier to become excessively dry.
BHA acids are not used in combination with essential oils, as it is not possible to control the depth and evenness of penetration, which can lead to skin burns.
What results can I expect when using BHA acids? What problems do they help to solve?
The use of BHA acids is effective for solving problems of oily skin prone to rashes (acne), with hyperkeratosis and superficial pigment spots.
The effect of regular use of BHA acids becomes visible after just a few days. Later it will only increase as cell renewal and mild exfoliation take place. Above all:
- the relief of the skin is smoothed, the skin becomes less oily due to the reduction of sebum production by the sebaceous gland;
- reduces the number of black dots, as salicylic acid exfoliates dead cells inside the pores;
- if there are inflammatory rashes, their number will be significantly reduced, as well as reduced redness and improved skin healing due to the anti-inflammatory action of BHA-acid;
- the thickness of the stratum corneum, the depth of surface wrinkles is reduced, surface pigmentation is lightened due to the keratolytic action.
For a more permanent and long-lasting effect, I recommend using BHA acids for at least three months. Taking into account individual skin characteristics and needs, it is recommended to personally consult with a specialist for a customized protocol for the use of BHA acids.