Your Guide to PHA- the Gentlest Chemical Exfoliant

Your Guide to PHA- the Gentlest Chemical Exfoliant

  • By Anindita Biswas

PHA is one of the most gentle chemical exfoliators available. Read on to know in detail the various uses of PHA and its benefits.

Chemical exfoliation has become one of the most popular skincare trends to this day, with varieties of products flooding the market. For the consumers, understanding the ingredients behind the products is the key to choosing the best. Presently, one of the most trending chemical exfoliants is PHA or polyhydroxy acid.

 If you are looking for a gentle solution to break free from the harshness of physical exfoliants, this can be your go-to product. Read on to know all about PHA and how to incorporate them into your skincare routine.

What is PHA?

Just like AHA and BHA, PHA is another type of hydroxy acid or a chemical exfoliant. However, the larger molecules of this element set it apart as one of the gentlest chemical exfoliants you can find. They do not penetrate your skin too deep but enough to remove the dead skin satisfactorily. There are different types of PHA among which gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid are the most popular. You can find these in the form of serums, toners, and moisturizers.

Benefits of PHA: Why is it best for beginners?

With so many types of chemical exfoliants flooding the market, a common question that arises is what makes PHA so special. There are several benefits of PHA which make it one of the best products for skin exfoliation.

1.Suitable for sensitive skin:

The PHA is mild enough to suit sensitive skin as well. The larger molecules need more time to penetrate the skin and hence do show the reactions too drastically.


Since it is so gentle on the skin, it does not cause any irritation, especially for sensitive skin. There is no stinging sensation which is often common with other types of chemical exfoliants.

3.Maintains hydration:

When using PHA, your skin remains hydrated since the ingredient is a humectant. It imparts a glow to your skin.


PHA is rich in antioxidants and can soothe inflammations even though it is an exfoliant.

5.Keeps glycation at bay:

PHA helps to fight glycation which leads to the weakening of collagen and elastin in your skin.

Side effects of PHA

The best thing about PHA is the lack of side effects. There are no known side effects of PHA even on sensitive skin. It works superficially and thoroughly removes dead skin cells from the epidermal layer of your skin. Since it does not penetrate deep, it is a safe and easy-to-use exfoliant.

AHA vs BHA vs PHA: Know the difference to pick the best

Apart from PHA, there are other forms of more potent chemical exfoliators like AHA and BHA. But how do you determine which would suit your skin best?





Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Beta Hydroxy Acid

Polyhydroxy acid

They are intense and penetrate deep,

They work by flushing blocked pores.

They are superficial chemical exfoliants

More suitable for normal skin with major issues.

Suitable for acne-prone skin.

Suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin.

Should not be used more than once or twice a week.

Can be used upto 3 times a week.

Can be used every day if required.

Glycolic, Lactic, Citric, Mandelic, and Malic acid are forms of AHA.

Salicylic acid is a form of BHA.

Gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid are all forms of PHA.


How to use PHA? 

PHA is available in many forms like serums, moisturizers, and toners. Studies have proven it has anti- ageing effects without any side effects or irritation. However, it is essential to choose the right type of product to reap the maximum benefit. Especially for sensitive skin, PHA in the form of toner is the best choice. It is gentle on the skin and provides hydration while strengthening the skin barrier. However, it does not cause any irritation which is a possibility when you use any exfoliant on sensitive skin.

Best products to use with PHA's 

Being such a versatile ingredient, PHA can be used with various other products and does not cause any side effects in most cases.


Most mild cleansers like the Foxtale daily duet cleanser complement any PHA exfoliant perfectly.

2.Face serum:

Most types of face serums complement PHA products perfectly. However, if you are using a vitamin C serum like the Foxtale Vitamin C face serum, it is best not to layer PHA-based products with such serum in the same routine. You can easily use the vitamin C serum in the morning and PHA at night.


The PHA is a humectant and helps to improve your skin barrier and retain moisture. When paired with a smoothening moisturizer like Foxtale Ceramide super cream, you get the maximum benefits possible from the combination.


Sunscreen is a must for every skin type. Thankfully, PHA does not interfere with any type of sunscreen and works particularly well with a hydrating sunscreen like Matte Finish Sunscreen which also helps protect the skin barrier with ingredients like Vitamin B3.

     The PHA is one of the gentlest exfoliants and when used correctly, it can be beneficial for all skin types.

    Back to Blogs
    Shop the Story