Salicylic acid is one of the best skincare ingredients for acne and oily skin. Chemically similar to aspirin, it is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) found in the bark of the willow tree and is derived naturally from salicin. (Salicin is anti-inflammatory agent produced from willow bark.) But what exactly does this acne treatment do? And why is it so useful in the battle against blemishes and oily skin? We reveal all below.
Salicylic acid can break down the intercellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together, which in turn helps with the exfoliation process. This acne treatment is commonly considered a keratolytic medication, meaning that it’s ideal for optimal exfoliation. By loosening the ‘glue’ holding cells together, the top layer of skin cells are softened and easily sloughed off to reveal fresher skin.
What’s more, salicylic can both unclog congested pores as well as shrink large pores. As it is oil soluble, it can easily penetrate into the skin’s pores to provide a thoroughly deep cleanse; dissolving debris, oil and dead skin cells. This, in turn, prevents blackheads and whiteheads from forming. What’s more, salicylic acid can tighten the skin and control sebum production to reduce large pores. This BHA is an astringent, which means it causes the contraction of skin cells to minimise large pores for a smoother complexion.
Salicylic Acid has both long-term and short-term improvements. It is an anti-inflammatory meaning it can reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne, soothing angry red spots for a clearer complexion. So it doesn’t just help treat blackheads and whiteheads, it also helps with the appearance of them too.
Although we love this ingredient, there are some things you should keep in mind:
- It’s not ideal for those with very dry skin as it can dry out the skin. If you do have dry skin but get the odd blemish, you do have a few options. You can either combine it with hydrating ingredients. Prepping your skin with products including aloe vera or if you have combination skin, such as an oily skin tone, only apply salicylic acid products to those target areas.
- If you have sensitive skin, we do not recommend using salicylic acid. People with sensitive skin should avoid products with salicylic acid or use naturally occurring salicylic acid found in fruits.
- Salicylic acid can make your skin sun sensitive, so be sure to wear a broad-spectrum UV protection SPF sunscreen.
- If you’re unsure about using salicylic acid, consult your dermatologist or skin health professional.
Favourite Salicylic Acid Products
Check out some of our top acne treatments and oily skin care products that include 1-2% concentration of Salicylic acid for glowing skin.