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Post in Skincare Aware

Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I'm kind of confused by these and I heard that some can cancel each other out or interact with each other.  Would anyone be nice enough to give me a break down of these & any others that I should know?

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Thanks again lylysa!

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

My pleasure, Catherineu2, anytime, I'm here! Smiley Very Happy

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Oh yeah, I forgot about those! I use the Sephora Collection Age Defy Eye Cream (mostly just at night) & Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask once a week.  I think I might try OH Lemon Strip Flash Peel or PTR's Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads when I run out of the DDG pads. Just not sure which one yet.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Good good. Smiley Happy


The OH Lemon Strip Flash Peel will be better for brightening and evening skin tone rather than solely lines/wrinkles. The PTR pads can be used more times during the week than the OH Peel. Cut the pads in half to get more use out of them!

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I love the OH lemon strip peel. I got a bunch of samples & it's on my wishlist. I want to buy it now, but I have too many scrubs/masks/peels I need to use up first *trying to be good*. I liked the 3 step system better than just the lemon peel itself.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I do like that lemon peel! It can be a little strong but it works great! And since so many of you recommended cutting the PTR pads in half, I tried it and WOW they really do last longer! Half of one is really more than enough Smiley Happy

Luv&Lipgloss, Diana

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Thank you everyone! All this info is really great! I'm 34 and trying to take better care of my skin. I was using Boscia's Clear Complextion line previous but it stopped working after about 2 years. I have combo acne prone skin so I've been looking into products that help both aging and acne. I did a lot of research on what the products I'm currently using do (anti-aging, acne, fine lines, reviews, etc.) but now I'm worried that I might be over doing it. In the mornings I use PTR's Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel (AHA/BHA), Korres Pomegranate Toner, OH Truth Serum & then Clarins Energizing Moisturizer SPF 15 (which I'm thinking of switching to Murad's Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20? instead). In the evenings I alternate between the PTR & Murad's AHA/BHA Exfoiliating Cleanser, then Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Face Peel (that's where I saw retinyl and I only use it if I don't use the Murad) & then OH Invigorating Night Gel (AHA) to finish.  Is that too much?  My skin can be sensitive sometimes, very rarely, but usually I can get away with a lot. I haven't had any irritation or problems so far but I don't want to damage my skin.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I think your routine for day and night sound pretty good, if you are about to wrap up your Clarin's lotion, you can give the Murad one a try. If you're not suffering from any inflammation, feelings of your skin being raw, or sensitivity, then I say you're moving on the right track!


PTR's wash is amazzzzing (I'm a personal fan of it myself), and since your skin is sensitive sometimes, using Korres and OH is great and plays well for whether your skin is doing fine or acting up. I remember your thread about an alternative to the DDG pads are those can get quite pricey, and tossing some suggestions there too. I think that as long as you're in tune with your skin and pay attention to any reactions to your routine/product your using you're skin will be fine.


Do you use any eye creams by chance or any face masks?

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Thanks sooooo much lylysa! You're awesome!!!! I'm going to have to print this out and keep it for future reference. Can some of these counteract or interact with each other? I remember hearing something about not using retinol & either BHA or AHA because they cancel each other out or something.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

@Catherineu2 there is nothing more I can add to what Lylysa gave you! Smiley Happy She really knows her skincare and all her tips are right on point. With all the different ingredients and products out there it can be tricky to know exactly what you need. Once you narrow down your skin type, concerns and solutions, it's a lot easier to find what products you will benefit from!

Luv&Lipgloss, Diana

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Gawsh, Diana, you're going to make me blush!

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Yes some chemical based exfoliants/ingredients can counteract one another, but I also find it dependant on the product itself and one's own personal sensitivities/tolerance levels.


AHA and BHA can be combined (like in PTR's Anti-Aging Wash), and I find that AHAs such as glycolic acid can be formulated with retinyl palmitate (more delicate form of vitamin A) and be fine (like in Anthony Logistics Glycolic Face Wash).


Most warnings of combinations come and stem from warnings of taking two products or ingredients that are too strong or too potent as they will end up overworking skin and causing more harm than good by making skin over sensitized.


Hydroquinone that Beautytester mentioned below is an ingredient to treat hyperpigmentation (found in Murad's Spot Lightening treatment) as it not only causes rapid cell exfoliation and regeneration, but also inhibits melanin production to keep dark spots from darkening any more. Though it on occassion is combined with AHAs to boosts its abilities, this can also back fire if someone's skin isn't used to such an active level of ingredients.


The key is to not overload skin, in other words, if you're new to using chemical based exfoliants/ingredients, there is no need to go out and get a AHA face wash, a retinol based treatment, then a face lotion with AHA/BHA. Start with one product, a treatment product specifically as the active ingredient percentages will be strongest there compared to a wash or lotion.


Another route that you can take in terms of anti-aging is with alternative ingredients that are still related to AHA/BHA/retinol. Vitamin C for example is a great product. It boosts radiance and evens skin tone (glycolic acids are rich in vitamin C) and is also boosts collagen production. Though it's not as heavy hitting as retinol, it's a good place to start if retinol sounds too scary (again, you can consider retinyl palmitate or retinoids). Humectants and peptides are other ingredients that help boost results as humectants bind healthy moisture to skin (royal jelly, sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid) to plump the look of skin, and peptides help with firming and diminishing lines as they sink into areas of skin where collagen and elastin is damaged and "swell" up to increase skin's volume in those lacking areas.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I've been trying to find that out for a while with no success (granted, I did not spent hours reading research articles about it or something). Retinol and glycolic acid shouldn't be used together. That phrase has been quoted in a lot of articles by various derms/MD/etc and I believe it. However, I have not found any credible info about whether derivatives or other ingredients in the same family can be used together or not (retinol with AHA/BHA etc, I don't know). I also read somewhere that hydraquine should not be used with glycolic acid, but the info was sparse and credibility of source not confirmed. That's all I know.

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Retinol, is a highly active anti-aging ingredient that can be broken down or formulated depending on the percentage used into other names such as retinyl palmitate or retinoids.


Retinol is vitamin A in it's most potent form. It's name is dervived from the fact that it's beneficial in terms of vision (retina), but can lend itself to skin care and even teeth/bone care.


Vitamin A helps to resurface skin and tackles various issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, the appearance of pores, uneven skin tone, uneven texture, acne, and more due to the fact that it works by boosting collagen production and increases cellular turnover. This means it promotes healthier and repairative skin cell production so that damaged cells at the surface are quickly replaced, this minimizing issues at the surface of the skin and helping to refine texture, tone, color, and overall appearance. If you think about it, wrinkles and things like acne and sun/age spots are more to the surface as they are visible, rather than just attach the problem at the surface and grind down on skin, it works below to in a sense "push the problem upward and outward" until it's "shed" from the outer layers and diminished/softened.


Since vitamin A is quite potent in the form of strictly retinol, it's also available in more gentle forms like retinyl palmitate and retinoids (which can also be time-released or encapsulated for a slower absorbtion/delivery into skin). Most products on the market are seen with the "palmitate" lable at the end, making it not as strong as retinol itself, this can be beneficial to those with more sensitive skin or delicate skin.


As the skin care/beauty world isn't required to list percentages of active or inactive ingredients in their formulations, it's important to know how to read lables. Ingredients that mainly comprise a product will be listed first. Mostly "water" is the number one ingredient across the board, next are usually emulsifiers or hydrating/conditioning ingredients such as dimethicone or glycerine, then more emulsifiers to keep a product together and then the ingredients you want to look for.


In other words, if you're looking for an anti-aging product and it's marketed as "retinol" based, but it's actually "retinyl palmitate" listed and it's number 20 on an ingredient list or towards the end, chances are it won't really be a heavy hitter in treatment compared to a product that has "retinol" listed within the top 10 ingredients.


Time released delivery is coming more into the world of skin care, it's a way to get active ingredients ("retinol" itself) delivered to skin, but not in too strong of an impact. Since retinol causes a chemical based exfoliation (as it doesn't use physical particles to remove skin), it can indeed cause the skin to become sensitized or even raw feeling, especially when proper moisturization and sun protection doesn't follow a routine. Think of it like this, if you're using a product that cause newer cells to grow/produce at a quicker rate so you shed outer/damaged cells, if you don't protect the new exposed cells, they end up being vulnerable to UV rays, dry air, cold winds, heat, and other external elements, then causing more damage to what is new. Since this rate of reproduction/ridding of cells isn't natural or common, skin can take some time to adjust and condition itself to the potency of the ingredient. Time released products have the active ingredient "encapsulated" to allow for a slower absorbtion for the ingredient over the course of a few hours rather than all at once. It's like the difference of pounding an energy drink in 10 minutes compared to sipping it over the course of an hour.


AHA are alpha hydroxy acids. AHAs are chemical based exfolianting agents that classify dozens of active ingredients. Some of the more common AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid.


Glycolic and citric acid are sugars (not granuals) or acids from fruits, as in the juice. They help to brighten and in a sense do what retinol does, but of course potency levels are different. Glycolic and citric acids cover everything from orange, lemon, sugar cane, papaya, pineapple, and even grapefruit extract. The higher acidity levels in these acids are great for brightening as they break down darker/damaged areas of pigmentation to even out skin tone.


Lactic acid is milk sugars/proteins that are more gentle than glycolic acids as milk proteins also help to calm things like inflammation and redness. Perfect for more sensitive skin. It does assist with brightening (this is why greek yogurt/plain yogurt masks are a rage for DIY projects).


Mandelic acid is dervived from bitter almonds and even apples and also have an anti-bacterial properties.


BHA stands for beta hydroxy acids and is another classification that helps to encompass more/different chemical based exfoliants and ingredients. Specifically in the beauty world, BHA refers to salicylic acid. You may recognize salicylic acid in many acne based treatments/products as salicylic acid helps to not only even the texture of skin (by causing cellular regeneration), but also helps by keeping pores clear (perfect in terms of treating/preventing acne), and ridding skin of excessive bacteria.


There are also a classification known as poly hydroxy acids (PHA). PHAs have a better grasp on the development/change in keratin in the skin, making it great to treat things like rosacea, eczema, and other dermatitis issues. It's also helps to bind water better to cells, making it a bit more hydrating or at least offers the additional benefit of hydration to skin compared to just regular AHAs or BHAs on their own.


Feel to kick me a personal message if you have more questions or post here! Smiley Happy

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

THIS IS AMAZING, thanks Lylysa!! Smiley Happy I am doing some research on AHAs and this helped with that but especially retinol, which I would like to understand better too! Smiley Happy

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Wow lylysa- I'm def. printing this out!  Such valuable info. in lingo I can understand!  TY, TY!

Smiley Happy ~KAM

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

I agree with Violalea. This is an amazing explanation! I may have to save it to re-read in case I forget later.



Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

My pleasure, LolaVal! I'm happy this post could help more than just Catherineu2!


To Catherineu2, I think you a nail in the head when you asked this question, seems others had it in mind as well!

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

omg lylysa,

I copied and pasted your response to read another time cause its super details and am sure awesome but I need to go to the mall Smiley Happy

Re: Can someone explain retinol, retinyl, AHA & BHA?

Hahah, have fun at the mall!

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