What’s the deal with LHAs?
There’s a new hydroxy-acid on the block
By Briar Clark
BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / October 17 2023
In the world of chemical exfoliation, BHAs and AHAs have long been the reigning queens of sloughing away dead skin cells to give us our most baby soft skin yet. You might have even heard of sensitive skin-friendly PHAs.
But there’s a new kid in town.
Introducing LHAs: The hydroxy-acid molecule that’s here to unclog and minimise your pores.
We spoke to Rachel McAdam, L’Oréal’s Scientific Communications Manager about this pore-saving molecule, to get the lowdown on how we can better integrate the ingredient into our skin care routines.
What are LHAs?
“LHA stands for Lipo-Hydroxy-acid,” says McAdam. “It is a hydroxy-acid molecule that is especially efficient at targeting unwanted skin cells in oily skin components.”
In layman’s terms? LHAs are great for “pores blocked with sebum,” says McAdam. “[They’re] useful in managing acne prone skin because it helps unclog those pores and reduce breakouts.”
What differentiates LHA from other acids like BHA, AHA and PHA?
Well, according to McAdam, while all of these ingredients fall under the umbrella of hydroxy-acids (meaning they exfoliate the skin) they do slightly different things.
“LHA is the most targeted to the pores meaning less is needed, which has the added benefit of less potential skin dryness,” explains McAdam.
“BHA is able to remove overall layers of dead skin cells efficiently. AHAs and PHAs attract water and may also have anti-ageing benefits.”
Who would benefit from introducing LHAs into their routine?
LHAs are able to break down sebum with ease making them ideal for “people with a tendency to have blocked pores and acne breakouts,” says McAdam.
But surprisingly, they’re also a great pick if you are scared to use a stronger hydroxy-acid on your skin, AKA “people who require the benefits of a chemical exfoliant but have sensitive skin,” says McAdam.
Are there any do's or don'ts when using LHAs?
Just like other hydroxy-acids, when it comes to introducing LHAs into your routine McAdam advises “to go gently.”
“Avoid applying too much in one spot as at a certain concentration threshold, acids, including LHA, may irritate the skin,” she says.
“Start with a thin layer applied to the entire area. Once skin tolerance is established, further applications or additional products can be introduced one by one,” McAdam explains.
The most important thing to remember with LHAs, is just like any other hydroxy-acid they will increase skin’s photosensitivity, making SPF application a must.
Our LHA product recommendations:
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.