27th Jun 2019


Why use AHAs?

AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids have been used in beauty for centuries because they work to renew your skin. Ancient civilisations had the knowledge that fruit based acids have natural cleansing and exfoliating actions on the skin to slough away dead skin cells. They knew that by using these fruit acids, brighter fresher skin below gets revealed. This AHA action has been the reason AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids have been so popular over time.

Where are AHAs used?

AHAs are a naturally occurring acids found in plants, and are generally extracted from various fruits, sugarcane and sugarbeet, AHAs can also be synthesised. AHAs are a skincare and cosmetic ingredient of great importance. AHAs frequently form the base of beauty products to reduce wrinkles, to soften defining lines and brighten ageing dull skin. They improve the overall look of skin by enhancing skin cells turnover to show the glow of new skin.

What do I use AHAs for?

AHAs feature in facial peels, serums, eye treatments, moisturisers and cleansers because AHAs are seen as the ultimate peel with Glycolic Acid being regarded as the best acid peel around for exfoliation to reveal radiant skin. Alternative chemical peels may use lactic acid derived from sour milk which also enables the skin to peel and renew.

How do AHAs work?

Alpha hydroxy fruit acids love water and are a highly effective method for hydrating skin. They help increase the absorption of water. When these acids exfoliate, dead skincells are broken down and dissolve. AHAs include Glycolic Acid that helps break down dead skin cell accumulation, while products with citric acid can brighten your skin even further. As AHAs are water-soluble acids from fruit acids, they are good for dry skin as their molecular structure attracts water, they help improve the skin's moisture content.

Can’t I just go to a skincare clinic for a chemical peel?

Yes you can, and you’ll likely be exposed to a much harsher and higher priced chemical acid peel, than an at home regular treatment you can do yourself, at a fraction of the cost. There’s a period of downtime from an aesthetician’s chemical peel where your skin is sensitive. When you do a glycolic peel at home, you can control the time you leave it on your skin or rinse off soon after.

Can I rinse off an AHA because of its strength?

AHAs need a while to absorb so rinsing off may affect their effective function. However if you have sensitive skin, you can rinse your face after a minute or two. Use AHA’s on alternate days unless advised otherwise. You can use in your daily skincare routine alongside the well-known BHA, Salicylic Acid but check each products instructions first.

I’m worried as it’s an acid, won’t it hurt my skin?

Even though AHAs or alpha hydroxy acid are acids, as a fruit acid it can be gentle. AHAingredients are gentler to skin than a scrub or a buff could be. There are several skin-exfoliating AHAs, but the two most highly regarded for their efficiency and popularity are Glycolic and Lactic acid.

What is BHA?

BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid and is oil soluble, so it works deeper in the skin such as the pores to remove dead skin cells, sebum, bacteria and environmental build up. BHA is Salicylic Acid isolated from the bark of Willow trees and gets its name from Salix genus of plants that willow trees fall under. Salicylic Acid also occurs in many plant species.

What do I use BHA for?

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is suitable for acne-prone skin and for those with deeper skin concerns since BHA penetrates further into the skin. While AHAs love water, BHA loves oil and are naturally drawn into the skin’s pores through their oil base and your skin’s sebum. This mechanism helps them to efficiently function to clear out impurities from the pores and reduce pore size for an even, smooth skin.

How does BHA Salicylic Acid work?

As beta hydroxy acid is oil-soluble, Salicylic acid can penetrate beneath the skin surface and can work in the pores where it expels sebaceous oil build up and inflammatory substances plus oil that have been sitting clogging the pores.

Which do I use, AHA or BHA?

On sun exposed and dry skin you should use AHAs as they slough and dissolve surface dead skin cells to reveal bright new underlying skin rejuvenating aged skin. They don’t work as deeply as BHA’s which work below the surface. If you have bumps, spots, acne and large or clogged pores and want a deeper exfoliation that reaches into the pores to clean away environmental build up, then regularly use a BHA.

When I use AHAs like Glycolic acid, can I moisturise?

Glycolic acid can sensitise your skin so protect your skin with a moisturiser and a high protection sunscreen. Use glycolic acid according to instructions as it is a strong exfoliant. It also can dry out your skin therefore moisturisation is important after the exfoliating process.

How often can I use BHA’s?

BHA or Salicylic acid works in the skin and depending on the strength and formulation, it may be recommended to be used every two or three days. Salicylic acid decongests skin reducing blackheads and blocked pores with an antibacterial action.

Do I need to leave AHA a while before I moisturise?

You can apply your AHA Glyco Peel on areas you want to exfoliate; your face, neck, décolletage and even hands.

You can moisturise directly after applying an AHA to dry skin. You can also follow your skin routine of eye cream, sunscreen and serums too straight away. However be careful not to use AHAs too close to your eyes.

What else do I use BHA Salicylic Acid to exfoliate for?

Salicylic Acid is an excellent exfoliator for dark spots and brown marks we find on our face and hands, as the BHA action works deeper in the skin. John Plunkett Cosmeceuticals Dark Spot Eraser contains Salicylic acid and is ideal to even up skin tone and reduce dark spots. As a serum it is convenient to use on ageing and dry skin on the face, neck and décolletage.

How often should I use exfoliators?

You can exfoliate your face a minimum of twice a week, or more depending on the strength of your AHA exfoliating peel. Follow the instructions given with the pack. Apply the exfoliator evenly, let it dry and then follow with a moisturiser. Leave overnight and rinse the next day. Or apply for 15 minutes and wash off afterwards

What AHA Exfoliator is from John Plunketts?

John Plunkett Cosmeceuticals Glyco Peel is a salon strength overnight glycolic acid exfoliator. It reduces surface discolouration, fine lines, and refines pores. The complementary action of Lactokine in Glyco Peel protects against inflammation to counteract potential for irritation, as well as stimulating skin cell regeneration.

What BHA Exfoliator is from John Plunkett’s?

John Plunkett Cosmeceuticals Dark Spot Eraser is a serum with the BHA Salicylic Acid, as well as powerful actives to target dark spots and uneven skin tone from UV exposure, the environment and hormones. This exfoliator includes Synovea HR that works at multiple levels to inhibit melanin while Niacinamide and Glucosamine regulate melanin while reducing redness.

To buy JPC Glyco Peel – with AHA’s


To buy JPC Dark Spot Eraser – with BHA


View our other blogs on

How to do a simple Skincare Routine


Freckles, hyperpigmentation, sun damage and dark spots


Options for pigmentation removal