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In Which Skin Care Products Can You Find PHAs?

PHAs belong to the hydroxy acid family and are gentle chemical exfoliants known for their moisturizing and antioxidant properties. They are found in many skin care products. Where exactly? Find it out here:

Published March 11, 2024, by Sandrine, Scientific Editor — 7 min read

What Is P.H.A. For?

P.H.A. (polyhydroxy acids), together with A.H.A. (alpha-hydroxy acids) and B.H.A. (beta-hydroxy acids), belong to the family of hydroxy acids. They are considered the new generation of AHAs and are known for their keratolytic action, meaning they remove dead skin cells (desquamation), which boosts cell renewal and restores radiance to the skin. In addition, desquamation thoroughly cleanses the pores, reducing the appearance of impurities.

They additionally possess moisturizing properties. This is due to the numerous hydroxyl functions (OH-) they contain in their chemical structure. These bind water molecules and thus prevent transepidermal dehydration, strengthening the skin barrier.

Unlike A.H.A. and B.H.A., P.H.A. are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. This is because their high molecular weight means that they remain on the surface of the epidermis. This explains their good skin tolerance compared to other acids that penetrate deeper into the epidermis.

Skin Care Products Containing Polyhydroxy Acid

Polyhydroxy acids are used in many skin care products. They are usually found in facial toners, serums, face masks, cleansing gels or exfoliants for skin and scalp. Due to their gentle exfoliating effect, they are especially popular for sensitive skin.

Typology has developed four skin care products with P.H.A., which are listed below:

  • The Exfoliating Cleansing Gel with P.H.A. (gluconolactone), provides gentle chemical micro-exfoliation. It unclogs pores and promotes skin hydration. It also contains aloe vera, which further moisturizes and soothes the skin, and inulin, which rebalances the microbiota of the skin. The contained sweet orange essential oil has antibacterial properties that are ideal for fighting pimples.

  • The exfoliating mask consists of an exfoliating complex with AHAs and PHA, which opens pores and exfoliates the skin. The gel is used once or twice a week and helps reduce blackheads in the long term.

  • The blackhead serum improves the appearance of closed and flat scars due to the depigmentation-promoting action of P.H.A. combined with the regenerating action of Centella asiatica. It also contains licorice root extract, which reduces melanin production to fight hyperpigmentation of acne scars. Apply a drop to the affected areas in the evening only.

  • The scalp scrub provides a double exfoliation of the scalp: chemically with P.H.A. and mechanically with jojoba beads and silica powder. The scalp is healthy, balanced and freed from dead skin cells. The mechanical exfoliating action combined with peppermint essential oil accelerates hair growth by stimulating microcirculation. In addition, the contained essential oil of Eucalyptus globulus soothes irritation of the scalp and limits the appearance of dandruff. Finally, P.H.A. and aloe vera stimulate the natural moisture balance of the scalp. This scrub should be used once or twice a week on a dry scalp.


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