What is Salicylic acid?

You may have heard of salicylic acid in skincare but what is it and what are the benefits of including it in your daily skincare routine?

Originally derived from willow bark, salicylic acid is, as the name would suggest, an acid. It belongs to the family of acids known as beta-hydroxy acids or BHA’s. If the thought of putting an acid on your face is raising your eyebrows, do not panic! As acid’s go, BHA’s are relatively mild. But it does mean they make excellent chemical exfoliators.

Beneficial Properties?

One of the most significant properties of salicylic acid and BHA’s, in general, is that they dissolve in oil. This means that they can penetrate the skin and pores much more deeply when compared to the water-soluble alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s) such as lactic and glycolic acid.

AHA’s tend to act more on the surface of the skin as they are unable to get down through the oily lipid layers of the skin.

What’s this REALLY mean?

The fact that salicylic acid can penetrate the skin at a deeper level means it will help to clear clogged pores and break down dead skin cells. This chemical exfoliation leads to smoother feeling skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the appearance of redness and inflammation.

Who should use it?

Salicylic acid is a DREAM acid for those with oily or acne-prone skin. It can help to regulate sebum production that often leads to clogged pores and breakouts and is a good option for clearing white and blackheads.

However, overuse of Salicylic acid can lead to dry and irritated skin. So those whose skin is already dry and sensitive might consider avoiding the use of BHA’s altogether.

It is also worth mentioning that salicylic acid belongs to the same chemical family as aspirin, so if you are allergic to aspirin, avoid salicylic acid in your skincare routine.

If you are thinking about starting to use salicylic acid, begin by using it only once or twice a week and slowly build this up to allow your skin to adjust and help avoid any sensitivity.

Okay, I’m ready to try it!

So you want to give it a go. But where do you start with so many salicylic acid options out here? Well, here at +Skinfluential we have hand-curated a selection of skincare brands that offer results with a range of products available that contain salicylic acid.

Obagi M.D. CLENZIderm Daily Care Foaming Cleanser.

This is a lightweight, foaming acne cleanser with 2% salicylic acid which helps unclog pores and wash away dead skin and impurities. 2% is the highest concentration of salicylic available for home use so may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin. It’s also a great option to unclog pores on the body, such as the back or the chest.

This product also contains cooling menthol which leaves the skin feeling refreshed.

ZO skin health oil control pads.

These toner pads come saturated in product also containing 2% salicylic acid and are designed to remove oil, normalize pore size, help smooth skin’s surface, and reduce irritation.

Medik8 clarifying foam.

This gentle cleanser is specifically designed for congested blemish-prone skin. A blend of mandelic and salicylic acids is paired with natural tea tree oil to renew and detoxify the complexion. This wash also contains soothing niacinamide which also calms the appearance of problematic skin. A bonus is that the entire Medik8 skincare range is also vegan!

UpCircle Face Toner with Mandarin and Chamomile.

This toner is 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free. Hyaluronic acid plumps and hydrates, whilst the mandarin and chamomile extracts soothe the skin. It is also formulated with salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin.

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There are numerous ways of incorporating salicylic acid into your skincare routine. If you’re unsure, choose a lower percentage and take your time with the product, building up the use to allow your skin time to adapt to the acid. It is seriously an ingredient not to be missed out of your daily routine!