what is a PHA Exfoliator and why you need it in your skincare routine

The next-generation of acid exfoliators; what a PHA Exfoliator is and why you need it in your skincare routine

We recently launched our most innovative new product to date; the Willowberry PHA Liquid Exfoliator. But what is a PHA exfoliator, you may ask? Here’s the lowdown on PHAs and why they are a must-have for your skincare routine.

What are PHA exfoliators?
Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are next-generation acids used in skincare as a gentle exfoliant to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin. Whilst AHA and BHA acids have enjoyed the limelight as a key skincare trend, the great thing about PHAs is that they are much gentler on skin than other acids on the market, making PHAs suitable for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin or conditions such as rosacea and eczema.  

Wait, an acid exfoliator suitable for sensitive skin, you say?
For many of us with more sensitive complexions, mentioning the acid word in terms of skincare can have us feeling wary, always on alert for any strong ingredient that could tip us into discomfort and irritation.

But rest assured: the molecules in PHAs are larger than those in other skincare acids – AHAs and BHA - meaning that they take longer to penetrate the epidermis and don’t penetrate as deeply. This has the effect of making them less irritating, easier on the skin, non-sting and also means they can be used daily.

Polyhydroxy acids – PHAs - are particularly suitable for ageing and dehydrated skin as they are also a great humectant and help support the collagen matrix, restore skin barrier function and protect against collagen degradation.

Why do you need a PHA in your skincare routine?
PHAs give your skin a smoothing, brightening, plumping, glowing boost without irritation. They work on the surface of the skin and their main function is to exfoliate skin, by gently dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells and the skin's surface, to remove the dead skin cells for a smoother, brighter complexion. But that’s not all…

What polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) can do for your skin:

  • Improve skin texture
  • Boost skin cell regeneration and stimulate repair
  • Clarify the complexion
  • Add glow and radiance
  • Even out skin tone by reducing the appearance of sun damage and pigmentation
  • Improve elasticity
  • Protect the skin: PHAs have antioxidant properties which help to guard the skin against free radical damage caused by UV rays, pollution and stress
  • Hydrate and plump: PHAs are humectants which means they help the skin to attract and retain moisture
  • Strengthen the skin’s barrier function
  • Slow down glycation, the natural process which erodes skin-plumping collagen and elastin
  • Keep skin calm (PHAs are anti-inflammatory)
  • Improve the efficacy of the rest of your skincare routine by getting the dead skin cells out of the way so that you are applying your products to fresh, new, receptive skin cells

Where do they fit into your skincare routine?
PHA acid exfoliators should be used as your first step after cleansing your skin,  before applying any serums, oils or creams.

Willowberry’s new PHA Liquid Exfoliator
A new product at Willowberry is a big deal. We give careful consideration to what grown-up skin actually needs to nourish and protect it, to ensure it looks its best. So, when we say we are very proud to introduce our new Willowberry PHA Liquid Exfoliator, you can believe it.

Our Willowberry PHA Liquid Exfoliator is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive, as a gentle but effective alternative to AHA and BHA acids. It has all the benefits of an acid exfoliator in a formula that is kind enough for daily use.

Our formula contains gluconolactone and lactobionic acid, two next-generation PHAs with antioxidant properties which protect your skin while working to clear your complexion. It also includes pumpkin enzyme, a gentle exfoliator for enhanced cellular renewal which is also a good source of vitamin A to soften and smooth the skin.

We’ve balanced the exfoliants with soothing and hydrating ingredients of aloe vera, chamomile water, cucumber fresh juice extract, hyaluronic acid and an amino acid blend with moisturising, strengthening, repairing and antioxidant properties to ensure skin is comfortable and protected.

Our Willowberry PHA Liquid Exfoliator respects grown-up skin, providing the efficacy of an acid with all the nutritious, natural goodness that we are known for.

We hope you and your skin love it as much as we do.

Buy the Willowberry PHA Liquid Exfoliator here.


Willowberry is nutritious natural skincare for grown-ups, for your best skin. 

A favourite with top make-up artists, Willowberry's luxurious award-winning products protect skin’s natural barrier function, to nourish and revive grown-up skin without telling women to be 'anti-ageing'.

As seen in Vogue, Independent, The Telegraph, This Morning and more.