Salicylic acid is a key ingredient which you’ve probably seen in many cleansers and blemish treatments. Thanks to its antibacterial properties and its ability to deeply exfoliate skin to unclog pores, it’s a valuable ingredient for anyone dealing with oily skin, breakouts, or acne. Interested? Here’s everything you need to know.
WHAT IS SALICYLIC ACID?
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) which (thanks to its molecule size) has the unique ability to deeply penetrate through multiple layers of skin – unlike alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and lactic acid, which can only exfoliate the surface layers.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Salicylic acid penetrates the surface of the skin and dissolves the ‘glue’ that holds cells together – this breaks down dead skin cells which clog pores, so reduces the appearance of blackheads and prevents breakouts from occurring. It also has the ability to penetrate through oil, so it’s really effective at reducing sebum and works well even for those with an oily complexion. What’s more, salicylic acid is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it helps to calm the redness and swelling of existing blemishes as well as preventing new ones.
WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
If you experience breakouts, oily skin, stubborn blackheads, or acne, salicylic acid will be a valuable ingredient to add to your routine. You’ll find salicylic acid is often included within cleansers and face masks, but you can also buy it in more concentrated forms. These are best used in a targeted way (as a spot-treatment dotted onto blemishes) as salicylic acid can dry out and irritate the skin if over-used.
WHEN SHOULD I USE IT?
You can use salicylic acid in your morning and evening routines but should make sure an SPF is always included in your daily routine (because salicylic acid is an exfoliant, it will increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV).