BHAs and AHAs: Your skin will thank you

Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are two beneficial skin exfoliants found in many face washes/toners/and anti aging remedies. Many of you may even be using them without knowing so! These are great ingredients to incorporate into your skin care regimen but to really get the full benefits you must know what skin types each ingredient is geared specifically to.

Why are they beneficial?

As you know, your skin naturally sheds off billions of skin cells off each day. However, not all skin types exfoliate at the same rate. Factors such as sun damage, aging, acne prone skin, etc. can slow down the exfoliation process. Usage of chemical exfoliants (like BHAs/AHAs) can help your skin speed up this process and result in smoother skin with less hyper pigmentation.

 Okay, so what are the differences between them?

 Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble, i.e. you should not be using them in tandem with any products that contain oils. If you do this will cause AHAs to not work as effectively. AHAs are also better suited to people with dry skin because they are humectants. Humectants are substances that are able to attract and retain moisture from the air. They have this ability thanks to the higher amount of hydroxyl ( -OH ) groups they contain, which allow hydrogen to bond with water.

Some AHAs include lactic acid, citric acid, and glycolic acid.

Beta hydroxyl acid (the most commonly used is salicylic acid) is oil soluble and you can use it with any products containing oils and it will remain effective. BHA is better geared towards acne prone skin because it is better at penetrating pores and “unplugging” them.

BHA

This is a cheap but effective product containing BHA!

Some things to remember…

 Some negatives of using chemical exfolliants is that they carry the chance of initial purging (they will cause acne). This occurs because the rapid exfoliation of skin brings plugged pores more rapidly to the surface, resulting in acne (that would have taken longer to rise) popping up more frequently than usual. Remember that this is only temporary and usually ceases within a month.

Another important fact is that BHAs/AHAs significantly raise your skin’s sensitivity to UV light. If you decide to use products containing these ingredients make sure to always use sunscreen!

What’s that squeaky feeling?

Hello everyone! I thought for my first post I would talk about an ingredient that I am sure EVERYONE uses on a daily basis, sulfates!

shampoos

What are sulfates?

Although there are many combinations, all sulfates are surfactants. Surfactants are compounds that help lower the surface tension between two items (liquid/liquid or liquid/solid). Surfactants are composed of long chains of atoms, at which one end is hydrophobic and the other is hydrophilic. The reason they work is that the hydrophobic (afraid of water) attaches to the sebum in your hair, meanwhile the hydrophilic end attaches to the water you are showering in and gets washed away. What this essentially means is that surfactants are detergents, or the agents responsible for the foam produced when you scrub a bar of soap. However, what sets sulfates apart from other surfactants is that is much too effective at removing sebum from the skin’s surface.

Some variations on sulfates include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate,

What’s so bad about it?

Although we are accustomed to attributing cleanliness to foaming capability, foaming in no way equates to cleanliness and in fact in most cases represents over cleansing. Over cleansing leads to drying out hair by stripping the scalp (or any of body part) of sebum, which is the protective layer of oil, that conditions that hair. In response to this the scalps actually responds by OVER producing sebum in preparation for your next cleansing. So in fact, your cleansers may be responsible for your hair/face getting greasy quickly. In some people it can also dry out your face or body and it also irritates eyes.

Where are they found?

In nearly everything! Sulfate is cheap to manufacture and produce and is found anywhere from your shampoos, facial washes, and even your dish soap. In most products that contain sulfate, it is usually amongst the first five ingredients.

better shampoo

This is one example of a gentler shampoo brand!

What can I do to avoid them?

No need to worry there are TONS of alternatives to these harsh cleansers. Many indie and organic companies, and even more mainstream companies, offer sulfate free options. Since sulfates are so cheap to produce though you will need to keep in mind that these alternative options do cost more however will be beneficial to your hair and body in the long run.