We use cookies for two reasons: to give you the best experience, and to make sure our ads you see on other sites like Google are relevant to you. Please click the button below if you agree to our use of cookies and personal data – find out more or change settings here.

What Are Hydroxy Acids?

hydroxy acids

Want to know the secret to achieving healthy glowing skin? In this blog we will be taking you through what hydroxy acids are, how they benefit the skin and the difference between alpha and beta.

Hydroxy acids are a group of chemical exfoliants that dissolve the glue-like bonds between skin cells to leave the skin smoother, brighter and softer. These acids can be either naturally occurring or synthetic and have been used widely in skin care products. Hydroxy acids are also used in Dermalogica professional resurfacing products and chemical peel, Pro Power Peel.

The two types of hydroxy acids we are going to look at in this blog are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs).

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
AHA’s are water soluble and are used for their amazing skin benefits as well as their exfoliating properties. Some of these benefits include improving the barrier of the skin, reducing cell build up and inhibiting acne causing bacteria, moisture retaining and hydrating qualities, brightening and evening skin tone and promoting the synthesis of collagen (the support structure of our skin).

Alpha Hydroxy Acids can either be synthetic or naturally occurring. Here are some commonly used AHAs and where they derive from:

· Lactic Acid- Milk and Sugars
· Glycolic Acid- Sugars
· Citric Acid- Citrus fruits, Corn
· Phytic Acid- Rice
· Tartaric Acid- Grapes
· Mandelic Acid- Bitter almonds
· Malic Acid- Apples

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

BHA’s are lipophilic, (oil loving) this enables the acid to penetrate blackheads and exfoliate in the pores. Salicylic acid is a very popular BHA as it acts like a corkscrew, diving down into pores to clear impactions. Water soluble AHAs are less effective at getting through blackheads and congestion. Dermalogica highly recommends products containing Salicylic Acid when treating breakouts and blackheads.

Now we know more about the two main types of hydroxy acids we use at Dermalogica, lets bust some myths regarding these highly efficacious ingredients.

“Why do some people think Glycolic Acid is the more beneficial AHA to use?”

Unfortunately, people often equate irritation with efficacy, and because Glycolic Acid has a smaller molecular size, which causes more irritation, people tend to believe this means it’s “working.” When it comes to acids, pain does not equal gain.

“The greater the percentage the more efficacious.”

Product potency is not based solely on the percentage of the acid in the product, although of course this does have some bearing. Product pH, and individual acid strength will determine the potency of the product. The overall formula and additional ingredients included will also affect efficacy.

“An SPF must be used following the use of hydroxy acids”

Exfoliation can leave the skin a little sun sensitive, so make sure you are sun safe by using a broad-spectrum SPF daily.

The benefits sound great right? So how do we incorporate hydroxy acids into our daily regimen?

Prep – This is where we ensure the skin is thoroughly clean using our double cleansing technique and the inclusion of regular exfoliation to encourage cell renewal and healthy skin function.

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser 295ml - Dermalogica's daily brightening cleanser with Glycolic Acid for dull skin which helps remove buildup caused by environmental factors. The gel texture lightly foams and conditions the skin for a radiant, healthy-looking skin.

Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser 150ml Pump - A two-in-one cleanser and exfoliant. 5% Lactic Acid concentrate helps retexturise skin, brighten and even skin tone. A creamy cleanser that is perfect for drier, ageing skins.

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash 250ml - Foaming, clearing wash with Salicylic Acid, that stimulates natural exfoliation to help clear clogged follicles and smooth away dullness. Clearing Skin Wash is the go to cleanser for adult breakout prone skin.

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel 30ml - Dermalogica’s most powerful at home exfoliant! A unique complex of phytoactive AHA extracts, Lactic Acid and fermented plant enzymes helps reveal new, firmer skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This powerful exfoliant is a great choice for ageing skin when cell turnover naturally slows down.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant 75g - Ensure skin is kept smooth everyday with Dermalogica’s most gentle exfoliant. A great choice for all skin including sensitive. The rice bran powder-based formula releases actives including Phytic and Salicylic Acids upon contact with water.

Treat – Is where we layer hydration and actives to target specific skin concerns, and/or target specific areas such as the eyes. We typically use serums or masques here.

Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil 30ml - Salicylic Acid and Retinol have been brought together in one formula that tackles adult breakouts and ageing at the same time in a lightweight oil base.

Dermalogica Age Bright Clearing Serum 30ml - A light weight serum containing Salicylic Acid to prevent and treat adult breakouts whilst evening out skin tone and fighting ageing concerns. Age Bright Clearing Serum is a great choice for AM and PM use and for those who are unable to use retinol products.

Glow – This is application of a moisturiser and SPF during the daytime to keep skin hydrated and glowing and protected from the elements.

It is important after using hydroxy acids to keep the skin protected and hydrated with moisturisers and a broad-spectrum SPF.

Please note: If you use medically prescribed exfoliating products, ask your doctor before adding more to your regimen so you don’t compromise your skin.

Finding an exfoliant that best fits your skin, lifestyle and personal preferences can be a game changer for any regimen, but it is important to choose a product which is right for you. Start by booking a professional Face Mapping skin analysis with on of our skin therapist at John And Ginger. We offer this free service either virtually in the comfort of your own home or at our store.

Profile Photo of Alex Echeverri author for John and Ginger
Alex Echeverri
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Dermalogica Age Bright Clearing Serum 30ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Age Bright Clearing Serum 30ml


A two in one brightening and clearing serum that is a must for adult skin that regularly experience both breakouts and uneven skin tone.

£75.00 £64.00
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c
Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash 250ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Clearing Skin Wash 250ml


A facial cleanser to effectively clear clogged pores, remove makeup, dirt, excess oils and bacteria on breakout prone skin.

£42.00 £36.00
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c
Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel 30ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Rapid Reveal Peel 30ml


It is time to reveal your most radiant skin with the next level of at home exfoliation.

£75.00 £64.00
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c
Dermalogica Daily Liquid Peelfoliant 59ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Daily Liquid Peelfoliant 59ml


For a smoother, softer skin with immediate WOW transformative results – Your Secret to Radiant, Youthful Skin!

£65.00 £55.50
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c
Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser 150ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Daily Glycolic Cleanser 150ml


A glycolic cleanser to improve softness of the skin, whilst brightening, conditioning and replenishing a dull complexion.

£35.00 £30.00
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c
Dermalogica Retinol Acne Clearing Oil 30ml
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c

Retinol Acne Clearing Oil 30ml


Suitable for adult acne to rapidly clear and prevent breakouts and to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyper pigmentation for a clearer, more vibrant skin overnight.

£85.00 £72.00
FREE GIFT *spend £80 *t&c