Acid Trip: An AHA / BHA Guide

Komal Basith

As far all things beauty-related went when I was a kid (by which I mean a teen, because I am officially an Old Person), the idea of anyone putting acids on their face seemed about as ludicrous as tattooing the name of your lover on your arm (Winona Forever, anyone?)  

That was before I woke up one day at 25, looked in the mirror, and realized that I looked sort of – different. Turns out there’s nothing quite like a new wrinkle to make you furiously backtrack on your (hitherto poreless) nose-in-the-air opinions on vanity, and as I stood there like the quintessential perplexed woman from every beauty commercial ever, turning my face this way and that, examining the ‘damage’ that had crept up on me – a couple of sun spots, skin that wasn’t as smooth as it used to be, the aforementioned pores – I decided to screw it; acids were the way to go.

Since then, alpha and beta hydroxy acids have become a cornerstone of my skincare regime, mainly because they’re so great at transforming skin – erasing fine lines and dark spots, brightening and smoothening skin and even sorting out adult acne.

They’re one of the oldest tricks in the anti aging book, and for good reason. “Alpha and beta hydroxy acids aren’t sexy or new, but they’re so much better than almost everything else out there,” said Ranella Hirsch, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, when I asked her about their effectiveness.

Of course, you can’t just slap them on and hope for the best; acids can make your skin a bit touchy if you don’t apply the right one, at the right time, in the right way, but get the mix right, and you’ll find they’re one of the most effective ways to completely change your skin without a trip to the dermatologist.

And so I teamed up with Dr. Hirsch,  Dr. Amy Wechsler, whose clients include several Hollywood A-listers (whom Dr. Wechsler never publicly discloses – she’s the one to go to if you want discretion!) and Delhi-based Dr. Kiran Lohia, one of India's best dermatologists, to put together a handy guide to exfoliants with what I hope is pretty much everything you need to know - and if you've still got questions, drop me a line





Save This Article