We all want beautiful, clear and healthy skin and there are several ingredients used in skincare products that can help us achieve just that. But even though some ingredients can be very beneficial alone, using them together may actually make them lose effectiveness. Is mixing AHAs/ BHA and Retinoids one of these combinations to avoid?
What are AHAs and BHA?
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs, like Glycol Acid and Lactic Acid) and BHA (Salicylic Acid) are exfoliants. They work by ungluing the substance that holds skin cells together, allowing the dead ones on the surface to gently come off and, because they can penetrate the skin, they benefit it more than most cosmetics scrubs that only stay (and exfoliate) on top of it.
AHAs and BHA greatly improve the way skin looks and feels: they improve skin’s texture and uneven pigmentation, unclog pores and allows the skincare products you are going to apply next to be better absorbed. Salicylic Acid is great for those that are prone to breakouts as it can exfoliates both inside the pores as well as the surface of the skin, diminishing whiteheads and blemishes. If instead your skin is thick, dry or sun damaged, opt for AHAs.
However, because of their exfoliating action, AHAs and BHA can cause irritations in some people, especially those with sensitive skin. In addition, they also make skin more susceptible to sun damage, but this can easily be fixed by always wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen in conjunction with products that contain AHAs or BHA.
What are Retinoids?
I’ve already written about the benefits of Retinoids in a previous post, but here’s the jist of it: Retinoids have powerful antioxidant properties. They can increase collagen production as well as decrease its depletion (which naturally occurs over time), preventing new wrinkles from forming and helping reduce the ones you already have (but don’t expect miracle results overnight, it’ll take a while to see just a small improvement).
In addition, Retinoids also exfoliate skin and speed up the skin’s natural cell turn over (the process by which skin replaces itself), helping fade hyperpigmentation spots. However, Retinoids can be irritating too, so at the beginning using products with small concentrations every other day. Once your skin has got used to them, you can start using products with higher concentrations daily.
Can I use AHAs/BHA and Retinoids together?
Using AHAs/BHA and Retinoids together isn’t a good idea for two reasons. First, both ingredients could potentially be irritating, so using them together may greatly increase chances of your skin getting irritated. However, some people can tolerate both of them really well, but still it’s best to avoid using these ingredients together.
AHAs/BHA (just like sun exposure) can, in fact, inactivate Retinoids, making them less effective. But don’t worry. You don’t have to choose between AHAs/BHA and Retinoids. You can still use both in your skincare routine, just at different times. Apply AHAs/BHA in the morning (and don’t forget to put on your sunscreen as well!) and products with Retinoids only before going to bed at night. This way, your skin can get the best of both worlds without the side effects.
Do you use products with AHAs/BHA and Retinoids? Share your experience in the comments.