Your Guide to PHAs and Why They’re Trending in Skin Care Right Now

If you’re particularly into skin care, then you likely already know (and love, and regularly use) exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids in your routine. However, you may have noticed a rise in a third buzzy, three-letter acronym: PHAs (short for polyhydroxy acids). You may be asking yourself what are they, and how do they differ from their alpha- and beta- brethren? We asked a couple of board-certified dermatologists all about the ingredient, and to make a long story short (although you should definitely familiarize yourself with the below #knowledge), PHAs might be a saving grace if you’ve found that your skin is sensitive to other exfoliating acids.What exactly are PHAs?

“Polyhydroxy acids — aka PHAs — are chemical exfoliants, and are considered ‘cousins’ of alpha hydroxy acids, as they are, in fact, second-generation AHAs,” Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure. “The most common PHAs are gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid.”


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