Anti-aging Skincare – Retinols, AHAs & BHAs OH MY!!

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In my recent post on The Importance of Skincare, I mentioned using a Retinol product and a chemical exfoliating product as part of your anti-aging skincare routine. With so many products on the market, it can be hard to sort through whats what, am I right? In today’s post I want to clarify the difference between Retinols, AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids).

So What Are They?

Retinol, AHAs and BHAs are chemical acids, usually with some added benefits that help to refine the skin’s texture, minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, enhance collagen production and reduce discoloration such as sun and age spots to leave more radiant and youthful looking skin.

These are chemical exfoliants as opposed to a manual exfoliant. A manual exfoliant would be a facial scrub. You know the kind, usually with ground almonds or something similar. I prefer, and recommend, chemical exfoliants over manual ones.

Are manual exfoliators bad then? Not necessarily. The problem is that sometimes the exfoliating granules can be too harsh on the skin, especially if someone is heavy handed in using the product. Being too hard with manual exfoliators can cause micro tears in the skin’s surface leaving it more susceptible to irritation, infection and sun damage.

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Retinol, Retinoid and Retin A – What’s The Difference?

Well actually there is no real difference, yet there is. These products are a Vitamin A derivative. The difference is usually in the strength of the product you are using. Retin A is the strongest, which is why you need a prescription from a Dermatologist to obtain it. The Retinols you can get over the counter are a more gentle form of the product. Often these have other added ingredients to help hydrate the skin. Some Retinol products are even  placed in creams to make them gentler for sensitive skin types.

It’s a myth that Retinol products exfoliate. What they actually do is work deep at the cellular level of your skin to speed up the process, enhancing collagen production, smoothing skin’s texture and help to even out pigmentation and discoloration. I recommend that if you have super sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or rosacea that you avoid using a Retinol product.

Product Recommendations:

emerginC Complexion Perfection

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Face Cream Serum

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane

So Then What Are AHAs and BHAs?

These are typically acids that are found naturally in certain foods:

  • Citric Acid – found in citrus fruits
  • Glycolic Acid – found in sugar cane
  • Lactic Acid – found in milk and tomatoes
  • Salicylic Acid – found in Willowbark which is also where aspirin comes from

These chemical exfoliants help to refine the skin’s texture by exfoliating off the dead skin cells on the surface, allowing for new cells to come forward, revealing younger looking skin that glows. AHAs and BHAs can also improve the appearance of acne scars, reduce dark spots and discoloration and help to smooth, tighten, firm and brighten your skin.

These are similar to the “peels” you may have heard of that are done in Dermatologists  and Esthetician offices. However, the over counter versions are gentler and safer to use on a regular basis.

AHAs – Alpha Hydroxy Acids

AHAs are water soluble and great for normal to dry skin types. The two most popular ones are Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid peels.

Glycolic Acid is the strongest and most effective AHA. It works to help with cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

Lactic Acid is gentler and better suited for sensitive and drier skin types. This AHA actually helps to hydrate the skin as it exfoliates; sometimes Hyaluronic Acid is added to help with maintaining the skin’s moisture levels. Lactic Acid helps to increase the skin’s firmness, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and reduce discoloration such as age and sun spots.

Product Recommendations:

Reviva Labs 10% Glycolic Acid Cream
Reviva Labs Pomegranate Lactic Acid Exfoliant

No7 Advanced Renewal Glycolic Peel Kit

Pixi Skintreats Peel & Polish

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% with Hyluaronic Acid 2%

BHAs – Beta Hydroxy Acids

BHAs are more oil soluble, so they are better suited for normal to oily skin types. BHAs, because they are oil soluble, are able to penetrate deeper into the pores to breakup dirt and oil. This makes them great for acne prone skin and preventing breakouts. They can also be great for some sensitive skin conditions like rosacea. Salicylic Acid is the most common BHA sold and used on the market today.

Product Recommendations:

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy – Salicylic Acid 2% Acne Treatment

Miss Spa Clear Blemish Patches

Acure Incredibly Clear Acne Spot

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Repair Treatment


Usage Tips

First, make sure you pick the right one for your skin type and your skin’s needs. I recommend starting with a lower strength and working up to something more powerful over time. Retinol in a cream would be more gentle than a more active Retinol serum for instance. Pay attention to how you skin reacts to the products and cease usage if your skin becomes inflamed or is peeling too heavily.  Also, keep in mind that with Retinols it can take up to 12 weeks for you to see a noticeable difference. So stick with it! Consistency is key in skincare.

I personally use both a Retinol product and Lactic Acid in my skincare routine. I prefer to use these at night while your body is at rest and your skin is repairing itself. However, you can not use these two together on THE SAME NIGHT! You must alternate the products nightly and I like to give my skin one day off a week. So my skincare routine would like something like this:

  • Monday – Retinol
  • Tuesday – Lactic Acid
  • Wednesday – Retinol
  • Thursday – Lactic Acid
  • Friday – Retinol
  • Saturday – Lactic Acid
  • Sunday – Skin’s Day Off – Hooray!

My nightly routine is Cleanse, Tone, Serum (Retinol or Lactic Acid) and follow up with a lovely moisturizer. I wake every morning to glowing, smoother and more younger looking skin. Remember, that these products can make your skin more prone to sun sensitivity so always wear your SPF during the day!

I hope this post cleared up some of the questions you may have had on these types of products. If you have any further questions or would like recommendations for your skin, please comment below or reach out to me on social media.

The Importance of a Skin Care Routine

skincare, skincare routine, importance of skincare, mens skincare, anti aging skincare, cruelty free skincare, beauty, beauty products, how to take care of your skin, beauty blog, beauty blogger, beauty youtube, beauty vlogger, beauty blog,In today’s world of Instagram filters and YouTube beauty “gurus”, the overdone makeup look is  everywhere. No matter where you look, so called beauty “gurus” are using tons of makeup products to achieve these perfect looks. Often with results that look less like themselves.

I’ve always been a member of the “less is more” school of thought. I much prefer to focus on the benefits of a great skincare routine. Using good skincare also means using less makeup. I’m not dissing makeup either,  but think of your skin like a canvas. Having a perfectly primed canvas, meaning great skin, assures that your makeup will go on better and you’ll probably use less product as well.

So why is skincare so important?

Your skin is your most exposed organ. This leaves your skin susceptible to sun damage, environmental damage, early signs of aging and even certain skin diseases. Now I know what you’re thinking…”What about aging gracefully?” Putting vanity aside, skincare isn’t just about beauty or appearance, it is about protecting your skin.

Utilizing great skincare can also help with problematic skin like clogged pores or acne breakouts. It can even help prevent future problems like sun damage and skin cancers. Prevention is key as our skin is in a constant state of growth and change. As skin cells die off, new ones are formed and brought to the surface. This is also why consistency is important in your skincare routine; to treat and protect the new skin cells.

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The Basics of a Great Skincare Routine

Just as we are all individual and different, so is our skin’s needs. Make sure to pick products based on your skin’s needs. You don’t need a ton of products to take care of your skin either. Below are the basics of a great skincare routine. I recommend some products that I’m currently loving and using. I have combination skin and am more concerned with anti-aging and protecting my skin, so you may have different skin concerns. If you have any questions about product recommendations for your skin, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to help.


Cleanser is important to remove dirt and impurities. Look for a product that is gentle, without harsh cleansers that can dry out the skin and strip skin of it’s natural oils. A lot of cleansers on the market today can pull double duty by having added benefits of anti-oxidants, vitamins, hydration etc.

My favorite cleanser is the Pacifica Beauty Rose and Kombucha Flower Powered Face Wash. I am also a huge fan of the oil cleansing method and typically use plain sweet almond oil or the Pacifica Coconut Dissolve Rehab Cleansing Oil.


Many people think that toners are an unnecessary step in a skincare routine. However, I think they are a very important step. Toners help to prep the skin for treatments and moisturizers. Most toners on the market are also great at helping to balance the PH levels of the skin. I recommend looking for toners or facial mists that are alcohol free. I personally  love facial mists that are moisturizing and calming to help reduce redness and irritation on the skin. I also love to keep these with me throughout the day for a hydrating pick me up.

My favorite toners right now are the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender or the Pacifica Beauty Rose Flower Hydro Mist


Again, as we have individual skin needs, what you choose to treat your skin will depend on your skin’s needs. Serums are targeting treatments with the most active ingredients to help with correcting, repairing, brightening, etc. Retinoids and Vitamin C are two that I highly recommend. A Retinoid is a great anti-aging treatment that helps refine the look of skin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals. Free radicals are usually caused by the sun’s UV light, air pollution, etc that cause damage to the cells.

I also really love using a chemical exfoliant on my skin such as lactic acid. These also help to refine the skin’s texture, leaving skin glowing and radiant.

The treatments I’m currently using include The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 10% and The Ordinary’s 2% Retinoid in Squalene, as well as the CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum.


Moisturizers are an important step for flawless skin. Contrary to popular belief, all skin needs hydrating, even an oily skin. Skin can be both oily and dehydrated. The key is finding the right moisturizer for your skin’s needs. If you are more oily, try an oil free, gel moisturizer. If you are more dry, look for a cream moisturizer with a richer texture.

Also, don’t fall victim to the claims that some moisturizers make. This is really just about hydration but with the added benefit of antioxidants and vitamins. No moisturizer is going to fill or repair fine lines and wrinkles.

My favorite is the Embroylisse Creme Concentrate, which I use for day. For night, I prefer a richer, more hydrating cream and I use Guerlain’s Orchidee Imperiale.


In my opinion, protection is the best anti-aging ingredient you can buy. Skin is very easily damaged by the sun’s harmful rays; causing premature aging, sun spots and even skin cancer.

Look for products that you can use daily with a sun protection range of SPF 15-30. There are individual products you can use over your skincare and makeup, but now a lot of moisturizers and even foundations carry a great sun protection factor (SPF).

For sun protection I love the Coola Classic SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray and the Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Brightening and Perfecting UV Protector SPF 50.

I hope this post has given you some tips to take great care of your skin. Remember, you only have one face. Take care of it now! If you have any questions or comments please sound off below. Also, check out the video below for a bit more information on a great skincare routine and a little bit more about the products I use daily.

With Love,


The Ordinary Skincare Haul

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I fell in love hard with the Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid treatment, but at $150+ for the serum I’m on the hunt for a good dupe. I have read some amazing reviews of The Ordinary Skincare products so I placed a WEE order. Check out what I got in today’s video.

I will be reviewing these products in an upcoming video as well as comparing the Sunday Riley Good Genes against The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid Serum in a Beauty Battle.