In our previous episode, we clearly highlighted how we can layer acids in our skincare routine. Today we’ll talk about the most asked questions which are…Can you use AHAs and BHAs in one routine? And can you use them with vitamin C?
CAN I USE AHAS AND BHAS TOGETHER?
You may not want to choose between using AHAs and BHAs, but according to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, “combining them may cause skin irritation. But since everyone’s skin is different, the combo could be safe and even beneficial for some, like those with oily skin.
The key to layering acids comes down to pH levels, a scale of measure that tells you how acidic a product is. You want to start with the product with a lower pH and finish with the one with a higher pH.
If you use a product that raises your skin’s pH first, the product with the lower pH will have to work to bring that number down instead of work on improving your skin, so it won’t be as effective.
BHAs are typically formulated to be a pH of 3.5 and AHAs have to be formulated at a pH of under 4.
You’ll want to use your BHA product first, not only because BHAs are lower in pH but also because they are oil soluble and AHAs are not. We like to think of layering acids like double-cleansing. Just like you use an oil cleanser first because oil attracts oil, you’ll want to go in first with that oil-soluble BHA. In this regard, they can work in synergy to effectively deep clean your pores.
If you do notice any redness, sensitivity or excessive dryness, back off and try alternating use, i.e. using AHAs one day and BHAs the next.
WHAT IF I WANT TO USE AN AHA/BHA WITH MY VITAMIN C PRODUCT?
Vitamin C can have exfoliating effects on the skin, which is why we generally advise against using vitamin C with your AHAs and BHAs. As with using AHAs and BHAs together, throwing vitamin C into the mix can be a recipe for irritation. In the same way, once more, you can alternate usage; you shouldn’t use acids every day anyway two to three times per week is recommended.
If you find your skin can handle it, though, the correct order to layer would again be low pH to high: Vitamin C (a pH of under 3.5), BHAs, and then AHAs.
Always bear in mind that these acids are designed for brief application and are carefully followed by thorough rinsing. They should always be applied by trained experts and accompanied by directions for the daily use of sun protection.
SIGNS YOUR SKIN HAS BEEN OVEREXPOSED TO ACIDS:
The first side effect of overdoing it is skin irritation, in particular, a stinging or burning sensation. Your skin may appear red or flaky or feel itchy, tight, or painful to the touch.
“Your skin could also feel drier than when you started,” says Dr. McKitty a Dermatologist. She noted that some products can, make your skin worse than before, it is better to have dryness as a side effect… Her advice is to always consult a dermatologist to help you devise a skincare game plan.
An increase in the number of breakouts is another sign of overdoing it. McKitty said this was particularly common to -pre-menopausal women, or if you’ve applied too many peels and AHA-based products.
LONG TERM EFFECTS
In the long term, side effects include skin sensitisation (an allergic reaction to acids), and melanin accumulation (dark spots) if the skin is exposed to UV without protection.
HEALING AN OVEREXPOSED SKIN:
If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms, it’s time to take a break from using acids in your skincare until the issue resolves. This may take anywhere from a week to months, so be intuitive and thoughtful. This is your precious skin, after all!
When you restart, you may need to decrease the frequency to only one to two times per week and slowly build yourself up to avoid irritation and dryness.
Another good bit of advice is to diligently determine what your skincare goals are, and then seek out the acids that target your needs.
This prevents you from throwing a smorgasbord of ingredients onto your face and helps you fix your skincare issues more quickly.
“For most of these acids, you should start out only using two to three times per week before bedtime. A rule of thumb is using a small amount, approximately the size of a pea.
Always follow with an appropriate moisturizer for your skin,” said Dr. McKitty.
It’s also best to start out using acids before bed versus in the daytime when you’ll be exposed to the sun. The two exceptions to the above rules are ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid.
Ascorbic acid because it has antioxidant properties and the ability to neutralize free radicals from the environment, so it is best used in the daytime. Hyaluronic acid because it’s very hydrating.
It can be used both night and day and can also be applied more liberally.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ultimately, your best plan of action is to follow product instructions and the advice you’ve read here today. It’s also in your best interest to consult a dermatologist or a skin care specialist who can offer personalized care to prevent over-usage, heal already damaged skin, and help you achieve your skincare goals.
NB: If you’re interested in including a product containing any of the mentioned chemical exfoliants in your skincare routine or need a guide on how to go about it, do well to Contact/WhatsApp Nikky’ann on +2348167760400.
Article to be continued on Episode 3 of Let’s Talk Skincare with Nikky’ann.