Acid 101 - BHA's and Retinol

A few weeks ago I talked about Gycolic, Lactic and Hyaluronic acid (here) I promised to do a follow up of BHAs and Retinol. Which are others forms of acid used in skincare. These types of acids are buzz words that I look for in skincare but non bloggers / skincare enthusiasts don't seem to know what I'm talking about so today I thought I'd break it down.


BHAs are commonly know as Salicylic acid, which is another chemical exfoliate. These types of exfoliators work by breaking down the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, to reveal fresh, brighter, more refined looking skin. So BHAs are very similar to AHAs. The only difference is BHAs are oil soluble. Meaning that they can get deeper into the pores and more effective for those with oily skin. Because they can get deeper in the pores this makes them more effective at tackling blackheads and break outs. The main type of BHA found in skincare is Salicylic acid which are naturally found in Willow Bark and Sweet Birch.

I personally find some BHA products too drying for my dehydrated skin. But I do suffer from break outs. My favourite BHA products are:

CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid | £22 | REVIEW

I really like this stuff and I don't find it drying it all! It has a watery, toner like consistency that I apply like a serum. Since using this I have noticed a huge difference to the blackheads on my nose - they're definitely slowly disappearing! I also apply this to any active breakouts that I get, this really helps them to clear up quicker.

Super Facials Salicylic Face Mask | £9.99

This is a face mask containing BHA and a whole load of ingredients that work on breakouts, blackheads and oils in general. This though, I do only use when my skin is really bad because I do find this a bit too drying on my skin. But if you have oily skin I imagine this would be great for controlling oils.


I'm not sure if Retinol actually counts as an acid. It's basically a form of Vitamin A. Retinol can be used to treat a number of skin concerns such as: dead cell buildup, acne, fine lines and ageing skin. It's actually one of the only ingredients that can actually reduce the signs of ageing. The skin naturally uses Vitamin A to help renew itself. So Retinol can help speed along the skins repair process, causing the cells to turn over quicker. Which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines.

In terms of helping acne it works by normalizing the over production of sebum and by stopping pores from becoming clogged. So it really is a great ingredient!

I've not had much experience with products that contain Retinol. But one product I love is Merumya Retinol Resurfacing Treatment | £33.50 | REVIEW | The effects of this stuff are brilliant. It really does everything Retinol claims to do. This is a thick cream that I use after cleansing, before any other skincare as part of my evening skincare routine and in the morning my skin looks so much better! It looks brighter, more refined, with a healthy glow. I don't have oily skin so I'm not sure if this actually helps control oils. I'm hoping with continued use this will help fight off ageing to.

From the products I have tried BHAs and Retinol are great ingredients and I really recommend using them if you have any of the above skincare concerns. It's also worth noting that both BHA and Retinol increase the skins sensitively to the sun so an SPF and added caution is essential when using them!

Have you tried BHA and Retinol? What are your thoughts?

Until next time...

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