All About Acids! AHA & BHA survival guide.

Sometimes we can get lost in the world of beauty terminology, everyone want’s great skin without the need for a science degree, but it’s important to understand some key ingredients and their use in skincare so you can make sure you’re getting the best products for your skin type and concerns. There’s no one size fits all as everyones skin is unique but you spend the most time looking at your skin, you have a good idea of issues you may want to tackle so use products to target those concerns.


Frankly there are endless acids on the market. Last week we looked at Retinols and today we will be looking at the difference between two of the most popular acids – AHA’s and BHAs. Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid. Don’t be scared off by the term ‘acid’ here as these ingredients can be fantastic for some major skin concerns.

If we get down to the bare bones of it AHA’s tend to work at a surface level whereas BHA’s penetrate deeper into the pores to tackle congestion at a deeper level. AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits, by peeling away the surface skin level it generates skin cell renewal which reveals evenly textured skin. My Beauty Bay Skincare review featured their correcting serum which at its core features AHAs for this exact reason.

Unlike AHAs, BHAs can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum and are oil-soluable.

So what are the shared benefits?

  • decrease inflammation, a key marker of acne, rosacea, and other skin concerns
  • decrease the appearance of large pores and surface wrinkles
  • even out your skin tone
  • improve overall skin texture
  • remove dead skin cells
  • unclog pores to prevent acne

AHA TARGETED CONCERNS

  • mild hyperpigmentation like age spots, melasma, and scarring
  • enlarged pores (please don’t make the mistake I have by trying to reduce pores, this is a beauty myth, however your pores look bigger when they are full of dirt so simply by cleansing thoroughly and unclogging deep dirt your pores will not have that deep look anymore)
  • fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone

BHA TARGETED CONCERNS

  • acne
  • sun damage
  • calming sensitive skin (in low concentrations!)
  • Boosting skin cell turnover drying out excess oils and unclogging pores
An example of AHA & BHA in the same product.

Both AHA’s and BHA’s are exfoliators so it’s important to use a good moisturiser in combination with it. Some occasional use products will contain both of these but they can cause irritation if regularly used together. For example, I use The Ordinarys AHA & BHA peeling mask but only weekly as it can be abrasive on skin, I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with sensitive skin! Personally I will alternate between them, using AHA’s which are for top level concerns in the morning and using BHA’s in the evening where the product can sink into my skin unencumbered by makeup and daily battles so they can be more effective. You are the best judge of this, there is no harm in using the product in different parts of the skin where there are different concerns or even just seeing what your skin needs that day and using it accordingly.


Just to complicate things AHAs and BHAs are an umbrella term for a lot of other acids which may become confusing when reading ingredients lists. Most products try to make it simple for you on the bottle now but as a little cheatsheet Salicylic acid is the only BHA whereas Glycolic, Lactic, Citric, Malic and more come under the AHA label

That’s all there is to it!

If you’re struggling to remember anything just look for your skincare concern here:

AHA’s are for surface level issues, build up of product, dry skin relief or anti-aging benefits
BHA’s are for deep level unclogging, tackling acne, oily skin and overall speeding up skincell renewal

So there we have it! The difference between two of the most popular skincare ingredients so you know what to look out for in your next purchase! There is no right or wrong or one size fits all so it’s about finding what works for you with your skincare concerns! Let me know some of your skincare faves in the comments below!

Retinol 101 – what, why, how and a natural alternative

Almost everyone has heard of the wonders of Retinol but most people still don’t know what it is, what it does or how to determine which product is right for you. Maybe you’re even sat there thinking you can’t or don’t want to use Retinol because you’re prone to reactions or worried about cons! Well i’m going to break it down for you in a Retinol bible and even weigh in on a mystery ingredient that’s taking the beauty world by storm as a natural alternative to Retinol!

So let’s get started on this journey to improve your skincare with one fabulous addition!

WHAT IS RETINOL AND WHY SHOULD I USE IT?

Retinol is a miracle ingredient that sinks deep into your skin and speeds up cell regeneration which helps fight signs of ageing by eliminating dull, dry and wrinkled skin by forcing your skin to regenerate fresher, younger cells. Retinol is a potent form of Vitamin A which comes in different strengths within skincare products.

It’s often used to prevent signs of ageing (wrinkles, dullness) fight imperfections (dark spots, uneven texture) treat acne and even out your complexion but…

Due to the shedding of cells some users will find their skin prone to redness, irritation or dryness. Therefore it’s pivotal you choose the right product for you, and trust me, there’s something out there for everyone to get all of these fabulous benefits!

WHICH PRODUCT IS RIGHT FOR ME AND THE BIGGEST MISTAKE EVERYONE IS MAKING!

There are thousands of products on the market so there is no ‘one size fits all’ here. It’s common for people to start with a product containing a smaller active dose and then work up. The Ordinary have a fabulous starter kit for this which contains 3 Retinols at different percentages (0.5%/1%/2%) so you can work up to the higher one in a sustainable way that get’s your skin used to it with less risk of inflammation or issues. I personally prefer Retinol in this form rather than a moisturiser as it breaks through your skin barrier deeper to actively combat issues at better levels than a moisturiser containing it which I feel can’t go as far as the molecules are bigger and less easily absorbed.

The absolute BIGGEST MISTAKE most people make without even realising it is using Retinol in a pipette form! (Unfortunately this is how The Ordinarys come) You’ll notice with Retinols that they come in dark brown glass bottles. This is so sun rays can’t break through the bottle and affect it which renders it useless, but those glass bottles often come with a pipette applicator. Every time you squeeze the pipette you’re sucking up oxygen as well as Retinol into a small space and it oxygenates the serum. This massively reduces its effectiveness when you put it back in the container and it’s shelf life is vastly reduced.

ALWAYS USE A SUNSCREEN! I never use Retinol in the daytime, it’s always at night directly before bed but because it is generally quite harsh and opens your skin to the elements it’s so important to wear a sunscreen! You should do this everyday anyway whether we’re in a blistering heatwave or darkest winter but it’s so, so, so important to remember this step when using Retinol in your regime.

A NATURAL ALTERNATIVE?

So you’ve heard all your friends raving about how Retinol is saving their skin! You’ve tried it yourself and even starting at a lower % your skin isn’t reacting well, or maybe you don’t even like the thought of it enough to try it. This is where a relatively new staple beauty ingredient comes in … BAKUCHIOL!

Now I like to think I keep up with skincare trends and key ingredients so it comes as a surprise to me that skincare buffs have been talking about this ingredient for a while, it’s popularity however is vastly growing amongst consumers now for its claims of skin cell renewal in a natural and gentler way to Retinol.

Bakuchiol is something I recently tried from the By BeautyBay Skincare range. It is a plant derived Vitamin A alternative that is kind to all skin which means it plumps and hydrates skin without the sensitivity, peeling and redness that can occur for some with Retinol use. It’s CV is endless, it calms and soothes skin whilst firming skin and fighting wrinkles by plumping, but it doesn’t stop there, it also fights blemishes, redness and large pores by deep cleaning. At this point you have to ask why you need anything other than this, right?!

With a list of claims this long it’s easy to question it! Bakuchiol’s small molecules deeply penetrate your skin and work with your skin to promote skin regeneration and cell renewal (thus removing imperfections and blemishes) in doing this it’s also promoting collagen production and it is NEVER too early to work on that! You start loosing collagen at 25 and it’s far easier to keep a consistent regime early rather than scurrying around for a miracle when you’re older and at 20% of what you used to produce!

Reap the rewards of this miracle ingredient by using it both morning and night as it doesn’t make skin sensitive like Retinol does, so despite me preaching you should wear an SPF regardless there’s no need to fret using this before you face the day! That by no means should signal that this is less powerful though, studies have in fact shown that when comparing only 0.5% of Bakuchiol to 2% Retinol in fighting blemishes that Bakuchiol won!

So there it is! A complete guide on Retinol and it’s natural alternative! For me I don’t personally have an issue with Retinol use however I have become so obsessed with Bakuchiol that i’ve been using it every morning and am definitely starting to debate using it to replace my Retinol completely!

Do you use Retinol in your regime?

Have you been swayed by the power of Bakuchiol?

Let me know in the comments below!

Beauty Bay Skincare – Review

Once in a while a new company that you’ve been buying from religiously decides to come out with their own range of skincare. Whether they market a New usp, trusted expertise or ethical sourcing it seems everyone is trying their hand at it now, and I’m totally here for it!

Beauty Bay have been a consistent supplier of my beauty shelf for many years now, I originally found them as they were an exclusive supplier of some of my favourite brands only sold in the US. They started bringing out their own ranges of 24 pan eyeshadows that rivalled Morphe for both price, quality pigmentation and inspired colour palettes. Their skincare range released last year with a good base, there’s a large variety of products for different skin types and the only initial downfall for me is the options in moisturiser.

This week I’m delving deeper into skincare with a look at some of the products I trialled in todays sum up post as well as some further detail on some beauty musts that help you understand the reason these should be in every skincare enthusiasts beauty cupboard!

The Skincare by Beauty Bay packaging is simple yet chic, it gives all the relevant information in an easily digestible format and the website breaks down all of the products so you can easily find out which products are right for your skin, you can also use the handy online skincare builder to find a regime that suits you!

Without a doubt their serums are the stand-out. Named SkinHit as each have a unique target which you can use alone or with other products. They even say you can combine a few drops in a moisturiser however I always put lighter products on first so they seep in further. It can be quite daunting looking through so many products to see which is right for you, so check out the main points of each below!

Since the announcement that The Ordinary is being sold to parent company Estée Lauder (a non cruelty free brand) I need a new place for skincare, My Main focus is Niacinimide, Retinol and their bible product Buffet. Beauty Bays Niacinamide serum is a relatively new release so missed out on this haul. My concern is whether it’s an active ingredient for me to warrant it it being a comparable replacement however in my next Beauty Bay Haul I will try it because you can’t really go wrong for the price.

In the few months since launch the skincare range has already seen an expanse into masks, applicators and more. You can opt for one of their sets or build your own. Beyond a doubt their biggest range is their serums now totalling 9 unique serums targeting a wide range of skin issues. The most exciting new update is the protecting serum with anti-pollution and blue light actives which is something I’ve genuinely not seen anywhere else. Is it a gimmick? Who knows, but it sure got my attention!

For now though we will look at the products I did purchase. Like I said their range is laden in serums so I chose two – the clarifying and correcting. And then I chose the day one moisturiser which boasts protective and hydrating properties. The only mask they do is a clay one which I find very drying to skin and I didn’t need a cleanser as I have too many to go through so I felt this was a good start.

CLARIFYING SERUM

£6.50 Bakuchiol and Oatmeal tackling breakouts whilst moisturising skin.

Bakuchiol is something a lot of beauty buffs have been raving about lately! Albeit research for this post was my first encounter with it. It claims to be a natural alternative to retinol, providing all of the benefits with minimal side effects such as redness. This means it supports blemish control whilst tackling pigmentation.

Colloidal oatmeal is the second active ingredient that is used to moisturise and restore the skin. Often dry skin overcompensates with oils which leads to breakouts so whilst it’s good to use ingredients that help control breakouts it’s important to remember to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised or your products will work against your skin instead of alongside it.

Overall I really like this serum! I don’t personally have issues with Retinol based products so I’ll be looking for another Retinol but if you suffer from side effects of Retinol definitely try this!

CORRECTING SERUM

£5.95 AHA & PHA actives to tackle congestion and texture concerns.

Texture concerns can often be caused by product build up so this serum uses glycolic acid as a key ingredient which delivers a gentle exfoliation and speeds up skin cell turnover. This evens out skin texture and reduces pigmentation. My main issue with this is that it markets itself as a concentrated exfoliating serum – would you wash off after? Surely if it boasts a gentle exfoliation it needs a cleanser after? There’s no information about this on the site so I’m not really sure if i’m overthinking this or it’s clever marketing to people who wouldn’t think too much into it.

This product glides seamlessly into your skin and definitely feels great after prolonged use, I think it’s quite overwhelming the amount of serums they have and I do feel I have issues with product build up despite cleansing thoroughly, my skin does feel fresher after using this for a few weeks!

DAY ONE MOISTURISER

£6.50 Ginseng and Squalene for protecting and hydrating skin

Moisturising is so important in your skincare routine! If your skin is dry it will produce excess oils to compensate which leads to breakouts. Beauty Bay unfortunately only offers two moisturisers. This one is incredibly lightweight and I suffer from dehydrated skin so for me this is something I’d need to apply consistently. It would be great as a starter moisturiser or for anyone who doesn’t suffer dehydrated skin.

Squalene hydrates whilst strengthening skin to stop hydration escaping whilst Indian Ginseng helps protect and shield the skin from damaging effects of screen emitted light (not something I can personally vouch for as I’m not a scientist but it’s quite a unique marketing point)

The second moisturiser they offer is definitely the one I should have gone for but unfortunately it was out of stock when I purchased! It is a thirst quenching rich moisturiser with oatmeal and oat lipids – something we also found in the clarifying serum.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Despite picking some products that aren’t personally right for me I can tell if you choose correctly these products will help where needed! They’re cost-effective without compromising on ingredients and I’m genuinely impressed at the range of serums they have bought out. I would like to see them branch out more into different products and not rely too much on serums as the moisturisers/masks and more seem like an afterthought or something they’re releasing just for sales whereas the serums genuinely seem like they’ve been thought out with due care and attention in genuinely tackling skin concerns.

I will definitely be purchasing some more of the serums to find my ultimate, I’m excited at trying the niacinamide and hopefully it can live up to The Ordinary version.

Have you purchased any Beauty Bay Skincare?

Which serums would you try out?

Let me know in the comments below!