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The Best BHA Skin Care Products for Clearer, Brighter Skin

Remember BHAs for breakouts
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Does the term "beta hydroxy acid" (or BHA) have you scratching your head? How about salicylic acid — it's one of the most popular BHAs out there. (Has the lightbulb gone on yet?)

Beta hydroxy acids are lipid-soluble skin care acids that penetrate the thicker dermal layers, in order to exfoliate, eliminate acne-causing bacteria and clear pores, according to Rhea Grous, aesthetics director of La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology.

Image via Imaxtree

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Different Types of BHAs

We mentioned salicylic acid earlier, as one of the most common types of BHA. Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FAAD, a Miami-based board certified dermatologist (and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare), says that salicylic acid generally appears in acne treatments in concentrations of 0.5-2 percent. (In-office treatment peels can see strengths of 20-30 percent.)

According to board certified dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, willow bark is related to salicylic acid but not as clinically effective. It is often considered an unofficial member of the BHA club.

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BHAs Versus AHAs

So, first off, what's the difference between alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids? Well, for starters, AHAs are water-soluble, while BHAs are lipid-soluble. This makes them more effective for cleaning gunk out of pores and for regulating sebum production. Per Grous, they're great for oilier complexions.

Ciraldo continues that BHAs are gentler overall, even though they go deeper into your skin. Of course, they're also often combined: BHAs and AHAs appear together in skin care products.

Now that we've brushed up on beta hydroxy acids, click through the gallery to see the BHA-rich products that will help you achieve baby soft, blemish-free skin.

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This is the number one product worldwide for Paula's Choice and it's easy to see why. The salicylic acid formula does it all; from unclogging pores to evening out skin tone. You'll be happy to know that the quick-absorbing exfoliant can be used twice daily.

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What award hasn't this exfoliator won? It's formulated with 25 percent AHAs and two percent BHAs for, yes, baby soft skin. The facial-in-a-bottle has all the hero acids (salicylic, glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids), plus interesting ingredients like chickpea flour, matcha tea and milk thistle for a glowing complexion.

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