If you are dabbling in the world of BHAs, it can be sometimes by tricky to work out how best to incorporate them into your skincare routine.
From “How many times a week can you use a BHA?” to everything else in between, here are the key things to know about using BHAs in your skincare routine.
To start with the basics, BHA stands for “Beta Hydroxy Acids”. BHAs are a type of skincare acid that work to “degunk” your pores.
Since BHAs are oil soluble, they penetrate through the oil that’s clogging your pores and exfoliate the dead skin cells that have built up. This is why BHAs are recommended for those with oily skin.
In addition to unclogging pores, BHAs have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, they can help reshape your pores, and also allow your other skincare products to better penetrate your skin.
If it’s your first time using a BHA product, start off slowly, using the product once a week. The usual way to apply a BHA is after cleansing (and after Vitamin C serum if you use one).
Spread an even amount onto your face, avoiding your eyes. For best results, most experts recommend that you wait for at least 20-30 minutes before applying your next layers of products. This is to allow the acid to take effect without being prematurely neutralized.
This depends on a few things, including:
1. the strength of the product you’re using
2. how sensitive your skin is; and
3. which other products you are applying as part of your routine.
Most BHAs range in strength from 2% to 10%.
Classic K-Beauty acids like COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid contain approximately 4% of betaine salicylate (a type of BHA) and can technically be used every day. However, it’s not a good idea to start using 4% BHA every day if you’ve never tried a BHA before.
Instead, start off by applying the product once a week. If you experience no adverse reactions (like stinging, dry skin or excessive redness), increase your usage to twice a week. It is better to slowly bump up your usage week by week.
For people with sensitive skin, you’ll likely find that 2-3 times a week using a product like this is more than enough. People with a more hardy skin type can even get away with using a BHA every day.
Just be careful you don’t over-exfoliate your skin by over-doing it on the BHAs (especially if you also use manual exfoliants) or you could wind up with everything from excessive dryness, to irritation, redness, and sensitivity. Some people also experience a burning sensation on their skin.
Even though we’re sure you already are using sunscreen every day, be extra careful to apply sunscreen while using BHAs.
The other thing is not to mistake the natural ‘purging’ period of BHAs (which can result in minor breakouts) for a product that is actually incompatible with your skin type. If it’s the latter, the product itself will actually be causing it to break out.
How to tell the difference?
A purging period should only last a short while. It occurs because the product is speeding up your skin’s natural renewal cycle. If you find yourself constantly “purging” and breaking out after using a BHA, this is not normal. It means that the product is not compatible with your skin and you should discontinue using it.
Any other questions about how to use a BHA that we haven’t answered? Drop them in the comments below!
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