AHAs and BHAs are amongst the many buzzwords heard within the skin care industry, but what exactly do these acronyms stand for, and what do they do? Let’s take a closer look…

AHAs, also known as Alpha Hydroxy Acids, are a water-soluble class of chemical compounds that are often found throughout nature. Their origins mostly come from various food sources including sugar cane, citrus and other fruits, as well as milk however, as technology has progressed, many of these acids are now synthetically made. This allows for improved stability of the acid as well as for a more controlled acid strength.


When applied topically to the skin, AHAs provide a resurfacing benefit, working to dissolve the intracellular glue that holds our skin cells together and inducing a skin shedding response. This makes them especially beneficial for sun-damaged and aged skin, encouraging skin rejuvenation to help minimise fine lines and wrinkles whilst assisting to retexturize the skin’s surface as well as even out skin tone.


Some of the more frequently used AHAs in skin care include: 

  • Glycolic acid – derived from sugar cane
Lactic acid – naturally found in sour milk, or as a result of fermentation.
  • Mandelic acid – from bitter almonds
  • Kojic acid – obtained from the Japanese Koji fungus

Much like AHAs, BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids, also provide skin resurfacing benefits, however as these acids are oil soluble, they are able to work deeper into the skin by spiralling down into the pores and providing deep-cleansing benefits. BHAs are especially beneficial to help target oilier, acne-prone skin types as they furthermore promote anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


The most popular BHA is Salicylic Acid, derived from the bark of Willow tree and getting its name from the Salix genus of trees. As with AHAs, Salicylic can also be synthetically made.


Whilst many benefits can be noted alongside AHA and BHA use, incorporating these actives into your existing skin care routine should always be done under the guidance of a skin care professional. Bear in mind that skin flakiness is a normal response to AHA and BHA use as these promote skin resurfacing and help to lift off redundant skin cell build up, however overuse as well as not using the correct support products may lead to skin sensitivity and irritation. Daily application of a high UVA/UVB/HEV-light protection sunscreen, such as DermaFix DermaShield SPF40/SPF50 is an essential alongside AHA and BHA use.


DermaShield SPF50

DermaShield SPF50 sunscreen provides high UVA/UVB protection for all skin types. DermaShield SPF50 is a scientifically advanced sun protection product that is PABA & Fragrance-free and contains a proprietary blend of sunscreen ingredients which protects the skin from damaging UVA/UVB rays that are associated with sun related skin damage and premature ageing. Our sunscreen meets the South African National Standards with SANS 1557:2013; ISO24444; ISO24443 accreditations.


DermaFix Cosmeceutical Skin Care makes use of AHAs and BHAs within the following home-use formulations:


  • DermaFix Active Cleansing Gel with Salicylic, Glycolic and Lactic acids, providing deep-cleansing benefits for oilier and acne-prone skin types.
  • DermaFix Brightening Cleanser utilises the skin brightening potential of Kojic acid alongside n-Acetyl Glucosamine and Niacinamide, ideal for hyperpigmentation prone skin types.
  • DermaFix MD Mandelic Cleanser, MD Mandelic Toner and DermaBright include the 3-in-1 benefits of Mandelic Acid to help target ageing, acne, and hyperpigmentation prone skin types.
  • DermaFix DermaPolish/DermaPolish + Activated Charcoal enzymatic exfoliation boosted with the deep-cleansing benefits of Salicylic acid to provide skin clearing benefits.
  • DermaFix Brightening Wipes – with Salicylic acid alongside Vitamin C, Kojic acid and Alpha Arbutin, these potent skin wipes provide targeted skin brightening and retexturizing benefits for problematic, hyperpigmentation prone skin types.
  • DermaFix Mattifying Pore Minimiser is an overnight spot controlling active that is formulated with a blend of Alpha and Beta hydroxys, including Salicylic and Lactic Acids, to help minimise comedogenic build-up within the skin whilst improving areas of enlarged pores and helping to smooth the skin texture.


Should you require more intensive peeling results, DermaFix Cosmeceutical Skin Care furthermore offers in-clinic skin resurfacing protocols, making use of AHAs and BHAs in combination with other peeling agents, such as TCA.


For more information on the benefits and usage of AHAs and BHAs, and how to best incorporate these into your routine, please contact DermaFix Cosmeceutical Skin Care directly on 0861282323 or visit our website www.dermafix.co.za.