A beautiful woman applying toner.

Everyone knows that the basic skincare steps are cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, but there’s a lesser-known radiance-boosting step: exfoliating with the help of AHA and BHA products.

As you get older, your skin’s natural exfoliating powers slow down or may even stop altogether. This leaves you with clogged, enlarged pores and a layer of dead skin cells that can make your skin look dull and flaky.

Gabbi Garcia shows off her beautiful, healthy skin.

Exfoliation helps slough off this dull layer to reveal the fresh, supple skin underneath. You can do this by using a physical exfoliator like a cleansing brush, but this might be too abrasive if you’re not careful or if your skin is sensitive. A gentler alternative? Chemical exfoliators.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “chemical.” The ones you need for exfoliation are just alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), which gently unglue the bonds that keep dead skin stuck to the surface, leading to smooth, even-toned skin. The choice of one or the other depends on your specific needs; while AHA and BHA have some common benefits—minimizing fine lines, firming up and hydrating skin—each one also has unique properties that can address different skin concerns.

Julia Barretto's favorite on-the-go essential: POND'S Anti-Bacterial Face Mist.https://www.instagram.com/juliabarretto/

Below, we walk you through the differences between AHA and BHA to help you find the right exfoliator for your skin. One important note before we go on: When introducing these acids to your routine, start with a low concentration once or twice a week to help your skin adjust. From there, you can see how your skin reacts and increase the concentration and frequency as needed. Got it? Now, let’s get glowing.

What Are AHAs?

AHAs, sometimes referred to as fruit acids, are derived from sugar cane or other plant acids and primarily address concerns on the skin’s surface. The main benefits of these water-soluble acids are sloughing off dead skin cells, brightening skin, stimulating collagen production, minimizing the appearance of fine lines, and addressing discoloration like sun spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. AHAs are ideal for those whose main concerns are dryness and anti-aging.

Check the ingredients list of skincare products for these types of AHAs:

Glycolic acid.

The most popular AHA, it’s derived from sugar cane typically used for brightening and anti-aging. It has the smallest molecules among the AHAs and can thus penetrate deeper into the skin. Make sure to introduce it gradually and in low doses to prevent any adverse reactions. Try the POND’S Age Miracle Youthful Glow Double Action Serum to help reduce dark spots, fine lines, and dullness.

With 30x skin renewal actives

POND’S Age Miracle Youthful Glow Double Action Serum

Lactic acid.

Derived from lactose in milk, lactic acid can prevent dryness and improve skin tone. As its molecules are larger than those of glycolic acid, it may be a better gateway acid for those with sensitive skin.

What Are BHAs?

While AHAs are water-soluble, BHAs are oil-soluble, which means they can go deep inside your pores, getting rid of oil and dead skin. This makes BHAs great for those with oily, acne-prone skin.

Some types of BHAs are:

Salicylic acid.

A bacteria-fighting ingredient, salicylic acid targets acne and prevents blackheads and whiteheads. You can find it in POND'S Acne Clear Pore Toning Conditioner, which deeply cleans and unclogs pores for clearer skin.

Citric acid.

Combined with salicylic acid, it can help control excess oil. Find it in POND'S Antibacterial Facial Mist, which is great to have when you’re out and about. It’s clinically proven to fight germs and acne-causing bacteria—just spray it over your face to give instant protection throughout the day.

With AHA, Niacinamide, and Glycerin

POND’S Anti-Bacterial Refreshing Face Mist

We know you can’t wait to get started on using these glow-getters, but just a few more tips: Consider introducing one type of acid at a time, especially if you have sensitive skin. Also make sure to moisturize after you use AHAs and BHAs to help new skin regenerate after exfoliation. And lastly, don’t combine these acids with retinol, an ingredient that helps boost collagen production, so as not to overwhelm your skin. For more tips tailor-made for your skin type, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist!