Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist) on 20th Feb 2021

AHA BHA PHA Peeling Solutions: Benefits and How to Use

AHA BHA PHA Peeling Solutions

You may not be on good terms with your current skin condition, which is rough and discolored unevenly. But know this, my friend! You can reveal your inner smoother, younger skin at home. You can peel off the surface you have long been dealing with. Yes, this may sound too good to be true, but there are at-home chemical peels available that offer solutions for superficial peeling. Superficial peels take time to show results but offer deep exfoliation and a younger, smoother feel you can't resist.

The idea of using direct-acids may not excite you positively, but they are not all bad once you get past that initial hitch. The peels are a better option if you want to improve tone, diminishing acne scars, and revealing a radiant glow.

AHA and BHA peels have made headlines for quite some time now, but not PHAs! The mild peels that these acids offer help skin and allow it to breathe by exfoliating and removing clogged pores and acne breakouts. Even by evening out the skin tone.  

What are chemical peels?  

A chemical peel is applying acids or toxic chemical solutions to the skin to exfoliate it. The application is controlled and depends on the condition being treated and its severity. The skin regenerates from deeper layers of the epidermis and superficial dermis that have been damaged in the process.

The technique aims at improving the skin's appearance. The solution based on chemicals exfoliates the skin, eventually peeling it off. The regenerated skin is improved, smoother, and has fewer wrinkles than the peeled-off skin. Chemical peeling is applied on the skin of hands, face, or neck.  

At-home chemical peeling solutions and why they are worth your attention

OTC peeling options available let you achieve your goals without professional help and are easy to use. Although milder in strength, they go deeper than a usual scrub to exfoliate and show admirable results. Apart from deep exfoliation, these peels even answer other skin concerns and help in cellular turnover. They give you a healthy glow, leaving your skin radiant and new.

Superficial peeling is when you discard the very top layer of dead skin cells; the peeling helps in stimulating new skin cells of the epidermis, eliminating the spots, and promoting collagen and elastin production to ease the fine lines and wrinkles.

You can start with these peels in your 20s. Many peeling solutions incorporate hydroxy acids, and they have been the rage for some time now. Let's know what these acids are.  

What are AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs? 

Acids on your skin might not sound like a compelling choice, but they do offer results that have us considering it after all. And it is not a bad consideration; after all, they do perform wonders for our skin. The plethora of acids available works differently, and you have to find what works for you.  

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

The water-soluble hydroxy acids, AHAs, can perform on the topmost skin layers. Dehydrated skin may benefit from these acids as they are naturally hydrating. Usually derived from fruits, AHAs increase cellular turnover and stimulate collagen production. AHAs also make the skin firmer, smoother, and brighter.

They are for you if you have fine lines, dry and dehydrated skin. These also work on skin affected by sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone. There are various kinds of alpha-hydroxy acids to choose from, considering individual sensitivities, but they are all described as effective and gentle.

Lactic acid is hydrating and brightening with a large molecular structure, which ensures less irritation than glycolic acid with a smaller molecular size and penetrates easily, quickly, and deeply.

AHA peels generally have a higher concentration to penetrate deeper, from 5-10%, than other products that range from 4-15%.   

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) 

Unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil-soluble and hence can penetrate deeper into the skin than its counterpart. The deeper penetration allows BHAs to reach the clogged pores, set them free, and control oils and sebum acting effectively on acne-prone skin.

Their work with sebaceous glands helps our skin maintain clear pores and rid it of whiteheads or blackheads. The anti-acne acids are also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory that makes the process soothing. Acne-prone or oily skin types are mostly recommended BHAs. BHAs can also effectively conquer acne, milia, and dull skin.

For example, salicylic acid is a BHA that works well for acne due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Peels using salicylic acid or BHA or majorly sebum checkers go deeper than AHAs into the pores.  

Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)  

A new entry in the family of hydroxy acids and poly-hydroxy acids makes headlines in the skincare industry. Their molecular structure is larger than AHAs, and these are perfect darlings for sensitive skin since it works on the top layers of the skin. Their mildness helps the people who have extra sensitive skin to be using the usual AHAs and BHAs. Poly-hydroxyls do not cause any irritation and hydrate the skin deeply and become apt for dry skin types. The mild hydroxyls do not compensate for their effectiveness. Gluconolactone acid and lactobionic acid are the most common types used in the industry.

Polyhydroxy acids act as humectants and provide deep moisturization as compared to AHAs and BHAs. PHA peels are mild and can be used for sensitive skin. They have been proven to reduce photoaging signs, wrinkles, dryness, and unevenly pigmented skin. The risk usually associated with post-peeling, such as redness and swelling, is significantly low.  

Benefits of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels may scare you with the sound of it, but the developments and the ease of using it have made it a viable option for a youthful appearance and an even skin tone. If you have sun-damaged skin that brings wrinkles, age spots, and thinning skin under its umbrella or unevenly pigmented skin that involves acne scars, you might want to give chemical peels a try.  

Chemical peels can effectively work on: 

  • Clogged pores 
  • Liver spots  
  • Hyperpigmentation  
  • Sun-damaged skin 
  • Wrinkles and fine lines 
  • Acne scars 

More than just exfoliators, chemical peels reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth and eyes caused by UV radiation.

Boost collagen production 

The sloughing off of dead skin triggers cellular turnover, collagen production, and hyaluronic acid in the skin & helps the skin appear radiant and softer with a glow. The action also increases your skin's elasticity making your skin look younger.

Chemical peeling makes your skin receptive to other skincare products.

After chemical peeling, the skin's topmost layer sheds away, and the skin has no dull skin impeding your skincare routine

Deep exfoliation 

Chemical peels have highly concentrated acids. They penetrate deeply into the skin compared to other exfoliation methods. This allows the peeling solution to work on a deeper level and exfoliate by removing the dead skin layer. The process gives you smoother skin with an improved texture.

A chemical peel with a combination of acids does not only deeply exfoliate but also puts at work other ingredients that boost the skin.  

Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%
Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%

Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%

₹ 589
A skin-regenerating daily serum with 10% Lactic Acid and 1% Hyaluronic Acid that mildly exfoliates without drying the skin to reveal clear, radiant, and hydrated skin.
View details

Heal skin affected by sun damage  

Sun damage leaves your skin with dark patches and hyperpigmentation. A chemical peel will help heal sunspots and unevenly discolored skin. Sun damage also causes aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines. Chemical peels help you work on aging signs. 

Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%
Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%

Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%

₹ 539
Reduces dark spots & evens skin tone
View details

Fade dark spots with peels  

Chemical peels sure do slough off the top layer. This also sheds pigmented layers, revealing new, even skin that gives you your self-esteem back.

To sum it up, peeling solutions containing AHA, BHA, or PHA, or a combination of them all are beneficial towards acne scars, hydration (PHA), dull skin that seems almost dead, and boosting your overall facial appeal.

The chemical peeling solutions differ dramatically from peel-off face masks because it does not just take the dirt away. A chemical peel is a full-blown investment in wiping out the clogged pores off dead skin cells.

AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2% by minimalist uses all the three and provides deeper exfoliation by reaching the pores and cleaning the surface. The resultant skin is something that you have always desired, a plump glow and healthy skin. The PHA acts as a humectant while exfoliating, the AHA exfoliates the surface, and the BHA cleans congested pores for you.  

AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%
AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%

AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%

₹ 689
A powerful peeling trio of 25% AHA, 5% PHA & 2 % BHA that provides multi-level exfoliation, both on the surface & inside the pores, giving you a healthy, plump, and glowing skin.
View details

How to use chemical peeling solutions 

Apply gently on a clean, dry face, and then wash it off with lukewarm water. But this procedure has more to it than this.

The peeling solutions are concentrated direct forms of acids and require your care and attention when using them.

Perform a patch test before opting for any peel, no matter how mild it is said to be, by applying a small amount of the solution on the inside of your wrist. If after 48 hours you see no reaction whatsoever, you may choose to carry it out on your face.

It is best to go slow with the peeling solutions incorporation in your skincare ritual. You should take things slowly by slowly increasing the number of times you apply it per week. Initially, start with just once a week and then gradually then twice per week if your skin has come to adjust with it and tolerates the peel well.

It is also likely that you may suffer from some negative side effects as the ingredients are usually very strong.

The skincare routine you follow up with after peeling is also important as you don't want to add any more active ingredients like retinoids glycolic acid. Please keep it simple with a super hydrating ingredient like a hyaluronic acid that helps you make up for all the sloughing off and is soothing and will hydrate it sufficiently.
Petroleum jelly works fine to make up for the water loss in the skin.

Do not, in any condition, let the skin appear in direct contact with the sun. You don't want to experience the outcome. Wear sunscreen; peeling makes your skin susceptible to sun damage.

There are some DON'TS that require your attention  

  • Do not use chemical peels on the loose or infected skin.  
  • Do not go beyond the 10-minute mark or the prescribed time of the peel.  
  • If you have sensitive skin, you will want to consult your doctor.  
  • Do not use the peels more than twice a week.  
  • Do not forget the sunscreen.  
  • Do not forget the test-drive before the race, the patch test. 

Advice by Minimalist

Purchase your products from a reliable source and know the ingredients before you go all-in.

Your initial hesitation will subside once you get to know the acids and have fun with them.

However, be cautious with the solutions and avoid the eye area.

You are not away from the radiant skin that you have been hoping for. 

Wrapping up  

While there are many peeling solutions in the market, consider your skin type, and opt for acids that work for your skin type.

The peeling procedures exfoliate effectively, revealing healthy, radiant, and glowing skin that you cannot achieve through scrub exfoliation.