BHA/PHA for Congested Skin

#SephoraSquad Featuring Wendy


What are BHA/PHA? BHAs are oil-soluble, exfoliating acids that help slough off surface skin cells and can penetrate into pores to break down any buildup of oil and dead skin cells. PHAs are chemical exfoliants, considered “cousins” of alpha hydroxy acids. They have a larger molecule size and do not penetrate as deeply, making them a great option for sensitive skin.

What do they do for skin? Both BHAs and PHAs exfoliate skin for a smoother look and a more even texture. BHAs are oil soluble, so they can help address clogged pores and reduce breakouts.

How do BHA/PHA work? BHAs break down the "glue" that holds surface skin cells together, so old cells can be cleared away. When they penetrate inside pores, they help clear out the buildup of dead skin and oil, leaving pores clearer and looking smaller. By clearing out debris in pores, they also reduce breakouts. Like other acids, PHAs break down the proteins that hold dead skin cells together and on to the surface of skin, so fresh, smooth layers of the skin can be revealed.

How do I use them? BHAs are found in a variety of skincare and some scalp products, like serums, toners, moisturizers, and treatment products. PHAs are found in skincare products, like serums, masks, essences, etc. Use as directed. Always add sunscreen to your skincare routine when using BHA/PHA or any acids.

What can I pair them with? They can be part of any skincare routine. Always pair with sunscreen.

Anything I shouldn’t pair them with? It's not recommended to use peptides and acids during the same routine. For example, if your nighttime routine includes AHAs, keep peptides in your morning routine. This is because acids break down proteins, and peptides are precursors to protein, so acids can make peptides less effective.

Don’t overdo it! Use caution when incorporating other exfoliating products into your routine.

Tips & Tricks

Go slow. Test the waters to see how your skin reacts. Start gradually to let your skin get used to these exfoliants.

Mask up. To decongest pores even further, add a clay mask to your routine.

Layer on a moisturizer. This essential step nurtures and balances skin so it doesn’t overproduce oil. Plus, it seals in hydration.

Say yes to SPF. Protect your skin against harmful UV rays every single day—it’s a crucial part of a healthy routine.