Glycolic acid and lactic acid are both alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) while salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Both AHAs and BHAs are wonderful exfoliants. AHAs work by dissolving the intercellular glue that holds your skin cells together, thereby releasing the cells. BHAs dissolve the intercellular fluid as well as the cell. The main difference between AHAs and BHAs is that AHAs are water soluble, while BHAs are lipid (oil) soluble. Oil solubility allows beta hydroxy acid to penetrate the pore that contains sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells that have accumlated inside the pore. Traditional AHAs and BHAs leave skin exfoliated and irritated. Alpha Beta X contains added soothing and calming plant extracts to reduce the irritating effects commonly associated with AHAs.