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Benefits of PHAs

what are the benefits of P.H.A. for the skin?

P.H.A. stands for "polyhydroxy acid". It is a group of chemical exfoliants that offer a more gentle peeling than A.H.A. (alpha-hydroxy Acid) like glycolic acid and B.H.A. (beta-hydroxy acid) like salicylic acid. Discover their main benefits of P.H.A for the skin in this article.

Published November 29, 2022, by Maylis, Chemical Engineer, — 5 min read

What is P.H.A.?

P.H.A. are acids derived from vegetable matter. In fact, they are mainly molecules derived from sugar. Among the P.H.A. used in skin care, three compounds are mainly present.

  • Lactobionic acid or bionic acid disaccharide formed from gluconic acid and galactose.

    It is rich in hydroxyl groups (-OH) and has a strong affinity for water molecules, making it an excellent moisturizer. In other words, it retains water in the surface layers of the skin and keeps it plumped up.

  • Gluconolactone, lactone (cyclic ester) derived from gluconic acid.

    This molecule is found in nature and in food, particularly in honey, fruit juices as well as wine in small quantities. Like lactobionic acid, this active ingredient has many hydroxylated groups (-OH); this makes it a good moisturizer for the epidermis. It is also known for its antioxidant activity: it fights against free radicals and oxidative stress, and thereby prevents skin aging.

  • Galactose, a monosaccharide with the gross formula C6H12O6.

    This P.H.A. is also known for its moisturizing properties.

Note: In a cosmetic formula, the type of PHA used is rarely mentioned on the packaging. It is then necessary to analyze the I.N.C.I. list to know which molecule is present. Nevertheless, the three P.H.A. presented below have approximately the same hydrating and regenerating effects.

P.H.A., a gentle peeling for the skin.

Sensitive skin requires gentle exfoliation. With a larger molecular size than AHA and BHA, PHAs tend to penetrate less deeply into the epidermis and are more suitable for atopic, sensitive and/or damaged skin.

P.H.A., a gentle peeling for the skin.

Typology has developed three formulas with P.H.A. in skin care products:

  • The exfoliating gel cleanser with 5% PHA and aloe vera offers a progressive micro-exfoliation of the skin to unclog pores, smooth skin texture and reveal a radiant and even complexion.

  • The anti-scarring serum is enriched with lightening and repairing active ingredients, such as gluconolactone from the P.H.A. category as well as Centella asiatica extract. Apply one drop locally to the affected areas, in the evening only, to fade acne scars.

  • The peeling mask with red fruit acids offers a mechanical and chemical exfoliation. In fact, in addition to the P.H.A., it also contains antioxidant cranberry powder which provides a light mechanical exfoliation. The Skin feels softer, smoother and more luminous.

Sources :

  • GRIMES P. E. & al. The use of polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) in photoaged skin. Cutis (2004).

  • HEARING V. J. & al. Applications of hydroxy acids : classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology (2010).


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