AHA vs BHA: Which Exfoliant to Choose??

What even is AHA/BHA? They’re chemical exfoliants. Meaning, ingredients that exfoliate your skin chemically, rather than physical exfoliants like a face scrub or cleansing brush.

Is it better than my face scrub? Yes. Chemical exfoliants are smooth and have the ability to penetrate deeper into your skin and loosen up dead skin to be cleaned out, whereas physical exfoliants require a lot of rubbing which can be harsher and more irritating for the skin, sometimes causing more issues.

OK so what’s the difference between AHA and BHA?


  • Water-soluble (ingredients that help dissolve outer layer of skin)
  • Suitable for dry, dehydrated skin
  • Smoothens and brightens skin
  • humectant properties aka hydrating
  • different types include
    • Glycolic Acid
    • Lactic Acid
    • Malic Acid
    • Tartaric Acid
    • Mandelic Acid
    • Citric Acid
  • Can make your skin generally more sensitive to the sun, so sunscreen is recommended
  • The exfoliation happens immediately, but the longer term effects can usually be seen after about 6-10 weeks


  • Oil-soluble (ingredients that penetrates pores, dissolving sebum, clearing hair follicles of excess debris and dead skin)
  • Suitable for oily, acne-prone, combination skin
  • Targets/prevents congestion and blemishes
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, no humectant properties
  • Only one true form, ie salicylic acid
  • Can make your skin generally more sensitive to the sun, so sunscreen is recommended
  • Needs to be used consistently to see the difference. Minimum 2weeks, but can take up to 12 weeks of consistent usage.

Got it! What should I try?

I have dry, combination skin and I’m always dehydrated.  I like Cosrx’s AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid which I’ve been using on and off for about 2 years. I’ve only recently grown to appreciate it more, after trying the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. I noticed the differences listed above, which was a surprise actually coz I didn’t think it would be noticeable.

I think it’s a good reliable product that you can start off with especially if you’re new to skincare and if your skin is dry or dehydrated.

My husband’s skin is oily/combination. After trying a few different products, he’s settled on Benton’s Aloe BHA Skin Toner (he’s on the 6th bottle!) He doesn’t know anything about skincare, he just uses whatever I ask him to use and let’s me know if it’s working or not – and true to the differences in AHA and BHAs, he’s picked all the BHA products for his oily skin despite not knowing what he’s using =D If that’s not a testimonial, I don’t know what is haha!


Are you an expert on skincare? Nope! Not at all, I’m still new to skincare, but I have spent many hours researching and keeping notes on certain products and ingredients in the search for better skincare products for my skin and my husband’s skin individually since we have completely different skin types. So while the above was researched on the internet and concluded over the last 2 years, please research more info on your own and don’t forget that we all have different skins and lifestyles and many factors can affect your results! <3


Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid 100ml

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner 200ml

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner

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