How Long To Wait After Applying BHA (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 20 minutes

BHA is an abbreviation used in the beauty industry to connote Beta Hydroxy Acid. BHAs formulations are part of the skincare regimes of most beauty enthusiasts. They are especially helpful for women with oily skin who suffer from acne and clogged pores. BHA is also known for reducing various aging concerns and signs in its users.

All BHA products work primarily by exfoliating the skin of the user. Most novice users are confused about the best time to apply a BHA product and if a stipulated waiting period is necessary for the product to work its magic before they move on to the next step in their skincare routines.

How Long To Wait After Applying BHA?

Using BHA products for the first time can be quite daunting. The word ‘acid’ is overwhelming for most users. There needs to be a set pattern when one plans to make BHA-infused products a part of their daily or weekly skincare routines.  

Dermatologists are split on the issue of a stipulated time window between skincare products. One group argues that while most skincare products do not need much time to penetrate the skin, BHA is a little different. An individual must wait for a good 20 minutes after applying a BHA product to her face. You can moisturize your face after these 20 minutes have passed.

However, the other group contends that if your products do not tend to roll up when applied one after the other, you can possibly apply a moisturizer right after you use a BHA exfoliator. The pH of the products will be the determining factor in this regard.

It is advisable to wait in most of these circumstances, but if you are in a time crunch and must complete your skincare routine as soon as possible, this shortcut can be followed a few times. Yet it is always better to allow your skin some time to breathe in between products for the best results.

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Nonetheless, each individual’s skin respondents differently to skincare products. The most conducive way to go about this process is to conduct a split test on your face. On one side apply the BHA product followed closely by a moisturizer, while on the other side, initiate a waiting time of 20 minutes before applying the moisturizer. Lock the approach that suits your skin better.

In Summary:

ApproachWaiting Period
Regular20 minutes
Fast-PacedNo waiting period needed

Why Do You Have To Wait So Long After Applying BHA?

The rationale behind waiting after a skincare product is applied is really quite simple. The ingredients in the product must be given time to seep into the deeper layers of the epidermis and dermis before other chemicals are piled on them. One has to give her skin time to soak in all the beneficial elements of a BHA product before it can be moisturized.

Since BHA is acid-based, it is quite abrasive on the skin. Even the ones that have a relatively mild formulation are quite harsh. Thus, you have to give your skin time to adjust to the acid before you can further irritate it with other chemicals. Moreover, if waiting periods are not followed, the effectiveness of the BHA formula may be undermined and ‘washed away’ in the product that is applied afterward.

However, some dermatologists suggest that BHA has a pH base that is absorbed by the skin instantly. They state that the pH of a product does not shift very fast. This is especially true if the other skincare products included in the routine are also acid-based or have neutral pH levels. Thus, waiting to apply a moisturizer would not have a significant bearing on the efficacy of BHA products.

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When one has time, it is prudent to allow the skin to absorb all the chemicals and acids in the BHA product. The most common mistake when using BHA exfoliators is not really the waiting period implemented between products but rather the kind, quantity, and frequency of use.

One should choose only one kind of BHA product. If you are using a BHA cleanser, stick to that. If it is an exfoliator, remain committed to using it for a while. Using too many BHA products can cause skin inflammation.


Beta Hydroxy Acids can work wonders for your skin if they are used in the correctly prescribed manner. Noticeable differences in the quality of the user’s skin can be noted if these products are judiciously placed in her skincare routine. Most BHA products have a set guideline when it comes to their usage.

Generally, dermatologists, as well as beauty experts, suggest that BHA products must be left on the skin of the user for 20 minutes. No other product must be applied within this time frame. This window of time helps the BHA formula unclog the pores and exfoliate the skin.


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