Many people who spend a good deal of resources on skincare items are familiar with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids). A fairly recent addition to those “good” acids that are making a splash in Korean skincare is PHAs or polyhydroxy acids. This is a special type of AHA that promises the same results as the first two acids, minus the irritation that they can sometimes cause. Below, we decode what PHAs are, and what incorporating this good acid into your routine can do for your skin:
1- First Off, What is PHA?
Polyhydroxy acids work much in the same way as AHAs and BHAs. PHAs are peeling agents that have been shown to be just as effective as AHAs and BHAs but are less irritating to the skin overall. PHAs work at the top level of the skin and encourage mild peeling that improves skin tone and texture, smoothening the surface for flawless results. Studies have also shown that PHAs are able to attract and bind atmospheric moisture, preventing the skin from drying out. PHAs are found in products such as CosRX’s PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream, which promises to make your skin smooth, dewy, and moisturized.
1- PHA is a Multi-Use Ingredient
AHAs and BHAs are both exfoliating agents, and PHAs are no different, belonging to the same family. However, the main difference between AHAs and PHAs is that PHA is a natural humectant, which means that it moisturizes your skin while providing gentle exfoliation. PHA molecules can attract water and moisture from the atmosphere and bind it to your skin to keep it well-hydrated. This is why you’ll find that most products with PHA in them help your skin become supple with a dewy, healthy finish.
2- PHAs are an Effective Anti-aging Ingredient
Clinical studies have shown that PHAs enhance cell turnover, which is crucial to keeping skin looking youthful. PHAs also improve the clarity and brightness of your skin, reduce the appearance of fine age lines and wrinkles, reduce pore size, and improve the smoothness and elasticity of the skin, resulting in a younger-looking glow. PHAs reduce potential damage caused by oxidation by chelating excess iron in the skin – meaning that it traps the iron and renders it inactive, then removes it from the skin.
3- PHAs is an Effective Treatment to Sun-damaged Skin
As we all know, exposure to UV rays causes the skin to grow dry and dull, effectively aging it faster. This is why skin experts agree that the key to maintaining youthful looks is to protect the skin against the harmful rays of the sun. PHAs can also help reduce sun damage as it serves as a powerful antioxidant and moisturizer. Best of all, PHAs do not increase sensitivity to UV light, which means that you can use it in conjunction with other actives — such as tretinoin to control acne, or hydroquinones to lighten the skin — without burning your skin.
4- PHAs Can Help Skin Heal Faster
Certain PHAs, such as galactose, serve as natural collagen synthesizers that help accelerate the healing process. Collagen synthesis is the formation of new collagen that is essential to the healing of wounds, but the production of this protein starts to lessen once we hit our mid-30s. PHAs are able to improve collagen production. They are also a known antioxidant that fights free radicals, reducing skin damage and effectively turning back the clock on aging, sagging skin.
5- PHAs are Perfect for Sensitive Skin
While most AHAs and BHAs are safe to use, individuals with sensitive skin may still find these acids too harsh. PHAs are a gentle choice for those who suffer from such conditions as rosacea, eczema, and atopic dermatitis, as it’s able to slough off the dead skin cells that cause the skin to appear dull and lifeless while maintaining the moisture barrier.
PHAs may be a relatively new contender compared to AHAs and BHAs, but it is certain that they’ll earn a permanent spot in beauty kits everywhere once people become aware of their skincare benefits.