BHA in Skincare
10 min read

What is BHA in Skincare?

What is BHA?

The BHA in skincare routine is beta hydroxy acid if you see it is nearly the same as Alpha hydroxy acid it just misses the one carbon chain. But this is the major change and unlike AHA, BHA has only a few types. The first one is Propionic acid and the second and most common is Salicylic acid. It generally comes from Willow bark.

Who Suitable For?

Who should use BHA regularly? 

  • Acne-prone skin or oily skin should use BHA in skincare routine daily.
  • If you have mild blackheads or whiteheads then use it once or twice a week for milk exfoliation and clear & soft skin.

How to Choose BHA Products in a Skincare Routine?

Now that you know who can use BHA products let's explore which BHA product is suitable for which need in this section.

Salicylic Acid Cleanser

If you have oily or acne-prone skin using Salicylic cleanser twice a day can help unclog sebum stuck in the skin.

Salicylic Acid Toner

If you have normal & combination skin and want cleaner and better skin then you can try Salicylic toner. Generally, Saliycilic acid toner contains humectants or hydrating factors that are paired so it doesn't over-dry your skin. It can get into the pores and get rid of blackheads and whiteheads. However, it is insufficient if you have active acne. 

Salicylic Acid Serum

This can be used as a spot treatment for active acne, blackheads, or whiteheads. Due to its nature, these kinds of serums generally tend to absorb much quicker and because of that, you should always top it with moisturizer to avoid over-dryness.

Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

It is a great alternative for people who have oily skin but can't tolerate salicylic acid cleansers. Salicylic acid moisturizer allows slow absorption and balances hydration. 

After that if you still feel is BHA in skincare bad for you then the answer is only if you have dry skin. You can find the reason ahead why. The details about BHA are in the coming section.

What Are the Functions Of  BHA?

BHA is a keratolytic agent, now you must be wondering what that means well this fancy word means it gets rid of excess keratin on the skin. On your skin's epidermal layer, there is a thick layer of Keratin. It is important because it acts as a skin barrier and it makes your skin partially waterproof.

In some cases, if the layer of keratin increases it can make the skin rough or could lead to Psoriasis. If you are suffering from acne one of the ways that the acne bacteria protects itself is to stimulate a little bit more of keratin to cover the top layer of your skin so that the bacteria can thrive underneath the skin.

The Keratolytic nature of BHA helps to exfoliate your skin, especially if you are prone to oily skin.

The second function of BHA is Communal lytic. It means it gets rid of comedones (skin-colored skin bumps) There are two types open and closed. Open ones are often called blackheads and close ones as whiteheads. BHA removes this and acts as a perfect weapon to get rid of it because it is oil-soluble. That means when the sebum is blacked in the pores it is able to bind to sebum and absorb and dissolve it like water.

If we combine the Keratolytic and Communal lytic effects, you can exfoliate oily-prone skin effectively.

Note: Overuse of BHA Can Weaken Your Skin Barrier

BHA is antibacterial because it can kill a lot of bacteria which means it can disinfect part of your skin.

However, every skincare ingredient has its downside and for BHA it is that it doesn't act against propionibacterium acne bacteria, and if you use it then you have to top it up with antibacterial like Clindamycin.


Is BHA in Skincare Bad for You?

BHA in skincare can work well not for you if you have dry skin because it functions to remove oil and using BHA on dehydrated skin can cause irritation and over-dryness.

Does BHA in skincare cause cancer?

According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer BHA  (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) can possibly be a human carcinogen (cause cancer).


If you also wonder when should use BHA exfoliant then the answer is when you have blackheads and whiteheads. People with acne-prone skin and oily skin can use it but dry skin people should avoid using it.