17 Best BHA Products for Acne-Prone and Oily Skin Types in 2021

The times are a-changing, and so are our exfoliating options. We’ve come a long way from our former, plastic bead-filled face scrubs, and now alternatives laced like beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are on the rise for sloughing away pore-clogging dirt and excess oil. Before you dive into some of the best BHA products on the market, there are a few things to know about this mattifying skin-care ingredient.

What are the benefits of BHAs?

If you’re unfamiliar with the different types of chemical exfoliators, beta hydroxy acids are one of the most common in skin-care products. According to Dr. Howard Sobel, M.D. — a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Sobel Skin Rx — these acids are a great addition to your routine to improve the texture and tone of your complexion. “They can deeply penetrate the skin to unclog pores and work on the skin’s surface to dissolve dead skin cells and balance excess sebum,” he says.

Dr. Sobel notes that the most common form of BHA is salicylic acid. This ingredient, usually sourced from willow bark, is known for its ability to kill pore-clogging bacteria right at the source (bye-bye, blackheads). It’s also popular for calming inflammation and skin sensitivity, smoothing uneven texture, balancing excess oil, and reducing the appearance of pores.

What is the difference between a BHA and AHA?

You’ve probably heard of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), and while their names do sound similar, AHAs and BHAs are quite different. According to Dr. Sobel, AHAs are water-soluble acids that are better suited to address hyperpigmentation and fine lines, whereas BHAs are oil-soluble and more ideal for oily, acne-prone skin types. “BHAs can [more] deeply penetrate the skin to unclog pores and exfoliate trapped dirt and debris,” says Dr. Sobel.

Due to the intensive pore-penetrative properties of BHAs, Dr. Sobel suggests that drier, more mature, and sensitive skin types try using an AHA, like glycolic acid, instead to avoid irritation.

Now, time to put all of your new beta hydroxy acid knowledge to practice. Below, check out some of the best BHA products to meet all of your pore-cleaning needs.

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