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What The Hell Is A BHA, And How Can It Make My Acne Disappear?

Beta Hydroxy Acids–– it seems like a big word, but trust us, they're dope.

(Glossier's Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector /


As you clean out the empty products on your shelves, make room for something new: an effective BHA. Beta You might have seen BHA labels on popular skin-care products that work remarkably well in the fight against acne. They're similar to Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like glycolic acids but can dig even deeper into your pores to get that full cleanse.

So, what are BHAs, and what do you use them for?

Beta Hydroxy Acids, like AHAs, are chemical exfoliants that remove dull, dead skin to give you a brighter complexions. They work the best for sensitive skin because they don’t have rough particles like other exfoliants, instead softly buffing the surface of your skin. BHAs are also oil-soluble which is necessary to get deep into your skin's oil glands and remove impurities. Their main purpose is to remove blackheads, decrease acne and mattify oily skin.

Types of BHAs

Salicylic acid is one of the most commonly used Beta Hydroxy Acids around. It reduces sebum production and dissolves skin flakes. Other common BHAs are salicylate, betaine salicylate, and sodium salicylate.  

The Benefits

BHAs dissolve the oil from your face without drying you out. They're even anti-inflammatory so they can help calm down rough, irritated skin.

Recommendations to Fill Your Shelf Space

  • The cult-classic brand's no-fuss acid can be applied directly on a cotton pad and wiped around your face to prep and prime your skin right before bed. Glossier says it can clear, brighten and smoothen your skin, and the 2,240 five-star reviews are nothing to scoff at.

  • After you clean and tone your skin, apply this lotion and let it dry. It helps minimize blackheads and clear clogged pores. Some say it even helps stabilize hormonal breakouts.

  • A quick exfoliant that also contains antioxidants that keep your skin looking young by reducing the appearance of pores and getting rid of those oh-so-stubborn blackheads.


Ana Corina Hernandez is a contributing writer for Rowdy Magazine.


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