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8 Best AHA Products of 2021

8 Best AHA Products for Acne-Prone, Oily, and Sensitive Skin

If you’re hoping for brighter and clearer skin, that HOPE is about to end.

Because you’ve found the holy grail guide to finally achieving your skincare goals!

If hyperpigmentation is also your main concern and you want a STRONGER acids, like alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid to include in your anti-aging skincare routine.

These 8 best AHA products are definite must-haves for perfecting your sensitive skin.

Best Budget Pick

Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum

Best Overall

COSRX AHA/BHA Treatment Toner

Best Value

Alpha H-Liquid Gold

Table of Contents

8 Best AHA Products

COSRX AHA/BHA Treatment Toner: Best Overall

COSRX AHA-BHA Treatment Toner

You can never go wrong with COSRX.

We always say this to our friends. When it comes to fighting acne, COSRX stands as one of the best starting skincare products today.

And this AHA product is no different. Since AHAs/BHAs pack a Hercules-strong punch, it’s always best to go for milder formulations like what COSRX offers.

Fit for everyday use, the COSRX AHA/BHA Treatment Toner is the best toner packs with alpha hydrocy acids.

Unlike other AHA products, it’s combined with beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), meaning it does the job of cleaning out pores on a deeper level and removing the smallest impurities.

It’s packed with glycolic acid, betaine salicylate, allantoin, panthenol, and fruit water that isn’t harsh on the skin and brings back a healthy glow.

Since it uses apple extracts and purifying botanical components, it helps control sebum production. This AHA product is surely a hit among those with the more oily skin type.

Pros

  • Prevents acne breakouts
  • Enhance skin vitality
  • Gets rid of whiteheads
  • Balance pH levels after every wash
  • Hydrating
  • Lightweight
  • Oil control
  • Combined with BHAs for deep cleansing
  • Suitable for the oily skin type
  • Hydrating
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Glycolic acid toner
  • Paraben-Free
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Runs out really fast (because you’ll love this a lot!)

Alpha H-Liquid Gold: Best Value

Alpha H-Liquid Gold

Alpha H-Liquid Gold is a holy grail among the best AHA products.

With 5% glycolic acid, the AHA cleanser works faster to dissolve bonds that hold dead skin cells together.

Because of its low pH level, it temporarily unbalances the skin’s barrier in order to allow the enzymes to penetrate pores on a deeper level.

It smoothes the skin, increases elasticity, and removes scars for a bright and clean look. It can also even out skin tone.

This hyaluronic acid formula is perfect for those who want to get rid of stubborn pimples overnight.

It’s the gold standard! Although it’s at the pricier end, we promise you, it’s worth every penny.

Pros

  • Low pH 2.8-3.0
  • Boosts collagen and hyaluronic acid production for a youthful look
  • Prevent acne build-up
  • Made from botanical ingredients
  • Results guaranteed overnight
  • Best for the mature skin (25+)
  • Safe for pregnant and lactating women 
  • Cruelty-Free

Cons

  • Drying
  • Too abrasive
  • Not for the sensitive skin type
  • Contains triclosan and triclocarban

Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum: Best Budget Pick

Mizon AHA 8_ Peeling Serum

Give your skin a boost with Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum.

Another cult favorite, this AHA serum is one of the best Korean skin care serums to treat acne and transform dull dry skin. With 8% glycolic acid, it fights off bacteria build-ups, without stripping moisture off the skin.

How? 

This peeling solution product contains panthenol and allantoin that supply moisture and hydration.

The ingredient list also includes papaya, yarrow, and Gentiana extracts that improve skin texture and get rid of redness.

Expect a brighter skin tone when you use this product regularly in your routine. If you don’t believe us, read the reviews online! You’ll find a ton of high ratings and positive feedback.

Pros

  • pH 4
  • Hydrating
  • Acne Preventing
  • Anti-inflammatory ingredients
  • Gentle exfoliants that remove dead skin cells
  • Revitalizes and firms skin
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Dermatology tested
  • Perfect for all skin types

Cons

  • Sticky formula
  • Contains parabens

Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial Mask: Best AHA for Anti-Aging & Wrinkles

Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial Mask

Fine lines and wrinkles are nothing to be ashamed of. They come with age. Eventually, every one of us will have them. But, what if you could use a product that  ALSO slows down aging?

With Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial Mask, it’s possible!

We loooove Drunk Elephant! And not just their AHA products, but several of their products make us drunk in obsession.

Let’s have a look at their formulation:

  • This exfoliating face mask has the right blend of glycolic acid, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids.
  • At 25% AHA, the product is an effective exfoliating formula to chip away dead skin cells at the surface.
  • The passion fruit seeds fight against skin dryness and boost skin cell production in order to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that make us look older than we really are.

Pros

  • Anti-aging
  • Boosts collagen production and skin cell turnover
  • Improve skin elasticity
  • Combined with BHAs for deep cleansing
  • Lightweight face mask
  • Paraben-Free
  • Plant extracts
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Expensive (but definitely worth its price!)
  • Slight sting

Paula's Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA: Best for Acne-Prone Skin

Paula_s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10_ AHA

This super-concentrated exfoliant is the best AHA product to combat acne. 

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA combines the exfoliating powers of glycolic, lactic, malic, and tartaric enzymes (AHAs) to remove dead skins cells, while 4% salicylic acid helps reach deeper into the pores.

It’s a total game-changer. Not only is it effective in preventing acne breakouts, but it also contains collagen-building peptides to make skin firm and smooth.

Paula’s Choice deserves to be on our best AHA products list not just because of the customer reviews, but the extensive research they do for every product they release.

It goes to show how much this brand cares for its customers – OVERJOYED like us!

Pros

  • pH 3.5-4
  • Minimizes and unclogs pores
  • Combined with BHA for deep cleansing
  • Smoothens and refines skin texture
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Hydrates
  • Paraben-Free

Cons

  • Slight Abrasive
  • Fragrant Free

Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel: Best AHA for Dry Sensitive Skin

Dr. Dennis Gross Ultra Daily Peel

If you have dry and sensitive skin, you need an extremely gentle AHA product. Luckily, Dr. Dennis Gross Ultra Daily Peel exists.

The skincare product combines the healing powers of five powerful acids yet soothing face acids: lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, citric acid, and malic acid.

The end results? An instant facial peel pad that gently exfoliates, rejuvenates, and nourishes the skin. It also improves the appearance of fine lines and other aging signs with regular use.

Pros

  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Minimize pores
  • Remove dead skin cells
  • Lighten acne scars
  • Improve uneven skin tone
  • Hydrating
  • Anti-aging
  • Paraben-Free
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Dermatologist’s recommended
  • Easy application
  • Safe for pregnant and lactating women

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited use

Alpha Skin Care Renewal Body Lotion 12% Glycolic AHA: Best Body Lotion

Alpha Skin Care Renewal Body Lotion 12_ Glycolic AHA

Exfoliating isn’t just limited to the face. Dead skin cells also linger in our body, which is why it’s an absolute must to use an AHA moisturizer.

For us, the best AHA body lotion is Alpha Skincare Renewal Body Lotion 12% Glycolic AHA.

This moisturizer is enriched with 12% glycolic acid that sloughs off dead skin cells in the body and works to hasten skin cell turnover.

What’s more is this product uses emollients such as petrolatum, glycerin, mineral oil, and dimethicone to keep dry skin feeling soft and comfortable. 

Note: Applying this AHA body lotion on the face is NOT advisable. Only use it on your body.

Pros

  • pH 4
  • Relieves dryness
  • Promote collagen production
  • Anti-aging
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Itch Free
  • Paraben-Free
  • Suitable for all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Thick texture
  • Sticky
  • Fragrance-Free

Herla Beauty Kakadu Plum Brightening & Revitalizing Exfoliation Scrub: Best for Skin Brightening

Herla Beauty Kakadu Plum Brightening _ Revitalizing Exfoliation Scrub

If you live an active lifestyle, then use Herla Beauty Kakadu Plum Brightening & Revitalizing Exfoliation Scrub.

Infused with vitamin c and other rich antioxidants, it’s the best AHA exfoliating scrub to brighten skin.

It uses Kakadu Plum, a grapefruit extract and a form of tartaric acid, that reduces the appearance of redness and hyperpigmentation on the face and targets dark spots.

This AHA product purifies and refreshes the skin by correcting discoloration, while also getting rid of dead skin cells and impurities.

Pros

  • Evens out skin tone
  • Reduces the appearance of skin redness
  • Brightens skin
  • Vitamin E and C extracts
  • Takes care of dark spots
  • Diminishes sun damage
  • Prevents acne
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Dermatologist Tested
  • Botanical ingredients

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Comes only in one size

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)?

AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid. It’s a group of water-soluble enzymes made from sugar fruits and plants.

AHAs are staple ingredients found and used in many skin care products such as cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums, and face scrubs.

These chemical exfoliants remove dead skin cells, get rid of dark spots, and smoothe out wrinkles and an uneven skin tone.

How it works:

Alpha hydroxy acid peels the top surface of the skin in order for a new layer of skin to regenerate. In short, AHAs get rid of the dirt, clean out your pores, and make your skin look brighter and younger.

Benefits of AHAs

Benefits of AHAs

Alpha Hydroxy Acids aid in the process of exfoliation.

And, we all know exfoliation is essential in any skincare routine. Exfoliating goes beyond removing dead skin cells. By exfoliating regularly, at least twice a week can result in the following benefits:

  • Faster skin cell turnover
  • Minimized large pores
  • Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Removal of all types of debris in the face to unclog pores and to prevent acne breakouts
  • Promotion of blood flow
  • Increased collagen production
  • Decreased redness & inflammation, the key indicators of acne, rosacea, & other skin problems
  • Correction of uneven skin tone
  • Brightening skin complexion

How Does AHA Work?

Take a look at the bottles in your skincare cabinet. Chances are, at least one of the products contains AHA.

No? Well, you probably might have seen or read glycolic acid or lactic acid on the label instead.

Guess what.

They both fall under the alpha hydroxy acid family. Glycolic and lactic acid are the most commonly used AHA skincare ingredients, but there are more.

Since the primary role of AHA is to heal age spots, acne scars, and wrinkles, you’ll be glad to know there are different types of alpha-hydroxy acids to choose from.

Each type suits a skin and targets a specific problem area.

Here are the different kinds of AHAs used in skincare products:

  • Glycolic Acid: Made from sugar cane extracts, glycolic acid antimicrobial properties that prevent acne breakouts.
  • Lactic Acid: Unlike other AHA ingredients made from fruits, lactic acid comes from lactose. Yes, we mean from the milk, but don’t let it fool you. It’s less drying than glycolic acid, it’s an effective exfoliant to combat the effects of aging, and it’s a gentle cleanser.
  • Citric Acid: Citric acid is derived from citrus fruit extract. Its main purpose is to neutralize pH levels and smoothen out bumpy skin.
  • Mandelic Acid: This chemical exfoliant improves skin texture and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores. Mandelic acid is made from almond extracts and works well with other AHAs to BOOST exfoliating effects.
  • Tartaric Acid: While tartaric acid isn’t used as much, it’s another type of AHA. It comes from grapefruit extracts and is good for healing acne scars and dark spots.

How to Fit the Best AHA Products into Your Skincare Routine

How to Fit the Best AHA Products into Your Skincare Routine

Are you ready to try out the best AHA products, but don’t know where to start?

No worries. We got you covered!

A good thing about AHAs is it’s versatile and comes in a variety of skin care products. There’s no shortage of ways to incorporate the best AHA products into your everyday skin care routine.

Here’s a little guide for each product.

AHA Serums and Toners

Always read the label before using a product. 

Some toners and serums contain formulas that can be abrasive to the skin. We’ve encountered users who complain that an AHA serum or AHA toner isn’t working for them even though they’ve been using it every day.

But, what they don’t know is that even some of the best AHA products are not fit for daily use. While AHAs have many benefits, they’re also powerful acids and are strong exfoliants, so exercise caution when using AHA products.

To apply toners and serums, use a cotton pad to wipe and spread the formula evenly.

AHA Mask

An AHA mask has a higher concentration of AHAs. If you use too much, it can cause irritation—and that’s the last thing we want.

Our advice? If you’re new to chemical exfoliants or have sensitive skin, use a gentle facial mask only ONCE a week. 

It’s also a good practice to apply moisturizer and hydrating products after rinsing them off.

AHA Body Lotion

Apply it just like a typical body lotion. There’s no need to worry about the amount you’ll slather, just remember to not overdo it.

Tips for Using AHAs

Tips for Using AHAs

In case some things aren’t clear, here are extra tips to get the most out of AHA products and how to use the skin care products safely.

Sunscreen

AHAs increase our sensitivity to the sun. When you use any AHA product during the day, always wear sunscreen.

Start with a Low PH

A lower pH level helps you build your skin’s tolerance to AHA. If you’re new to chemical exfoliants, start out with pH levels of less than 4.

FAQS

What Percentage of AHA Is Effective?

More doesn’t always mean better. A percentage of 8-10% is most advisable and effective for the best AHA products.

How is AHA Different From BHA?

Beta Hydroxy Acids and Alpha Hydroxy Acids share similar benefits. You can both attain a level of exfoliation from each one.

The only difference is that it’s used to achieve different skin care goals: For anti-aging treatment and hyperpigmentation, uneven tone, and trouble spots, AHAs are best to use, while BHAs alleviate acne inflammation.

Tip: AHAs suit dry sensitive skin more; BHAs suit oily skin more.

An AHA cleanser isn’t the most effective too. Since the best AHA products only remove dead skin cells at the surface, it doesn’t do the job of completely cleaning out pores.

BHAs are better alternatives when you want to deep cleanse…You didn’t hear that from us. Oops!

Conclusion

Conclusion

Achieving healthy skin doesn’t have to be difficult. There are different AHA products that suit every skin type.

By using these 8 best AHA products, you’re sure to come out with better, brighter, and cleaner skin.

Three cheers for AHA products!

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.