You’re already familiar with this ingredient if you’ve suffered from acne. After the long hours of probing the internet and looking for acne solutions, it’s no surprise if salicylic acid will be one of the top results online. But really, what is salicylic acid? What does it do for our skin? Does it fight acne?
To help you discover the benefits and uses of this infamous skincare ingredient, here’s a guide on how to use it if ever you want to integrate it into your everyday skincare routine.
What is salicylic acid?
Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid that is benzoic acid with a hydroxy group at the ortho position. It is sourced from the bark of the white willow and wintergreen leaves. It has a role as an anti-infective agent, an antifungal agent, a keratolytic drug, a plant metabolite, an algal metabolite, and a plant hormone.1 Now that we know it’s chemical composition, let’s look into how it penetrates our skin!
Since salicylic acid is a part of the beta hydroxy acid family, it means that the hydroxy part of the molecule is isolated from the acid portion of the molecule by two carbon atoms. The hydroxy and acid portions of the molecule are only separated by one atom. Therefore, salicylic acid's effectiveness depends on this structure since it makes the substance more soluble in oil, facilitating entry into the skin's pores.
So basically, the ability of salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin makes it a good agent for peeling.2 Also, the comedolytic property of salicylic acid makes it a useful peeling agent for people with acne.
Benefits of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid has many benefits, and to help you decide if it’s right for your skin care regimen, we’ve compiled a list of its pros:
- It exfoliates dead skin. Salicylic acid has several advantages, but one of them is its capacity to exfoliate the skin. The accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin's surface is the root cause of many skin problems. Salicylic acid enters the skin's pores and dissolves the flaky skin and dead skin cells on the skin's surface. Salicylic acid also aids in clearing away dirt and bacteria that have accumulated on the skin's surface to keep pores clear and uninfected by irritants. It also helps purify and exfoliate the skin by eliminating bacteria and dead skin cells, enhancing the skin's health and appearance.3
- Salicylic acid softens the contents of clogged pores. The oil-soluble component can seep inside the pores, break up the "glue" that holds the skin cells together, and empty clogged pores that form whiteheads, blackheads, and tiny red pimples are symptoms of superficial acne.
- It removes excess oil. Because oily skin clogs pores and interferes with the skin's normal shedding cycle, it frequently causes skin blemishes. Additionally, too much oil on the skin's surface can store dirt and bacteria that can irritate inflamed skin. When applied, salicylic acid can dissolve fatty substances like sebum or the skin's natural oils on the skin's surface. Salicylic acid can assist in removing excess oils and lower sebum levels in your skincare routine if you have oily skin.4
- It reduces inflammation. Because it is in the same family as aspirin, salicylic acid's anti-inflammatory qualities make it helpful for treating itchiness and redness associated with breakouts—just like its painkiller cousin.5
How to use salicylic acid
Topical salicylic acid can be applied to the skin or scalp in a variety of forms: creams, lotions, liquids, gels, and shampoos. It also comes in several strengths, some of which require a prescription. Depending on the condition being treated and the substance being used—as well as how often it is applied to your skin—topical salicylic acid may be used anywhere from several times per day to once or twice per week.6 Always ask your dermatologist to explain anything you don't understand, and follow the advice on your prescription. Use as directed—don't use more or less than recommended.
Don’t get us wrong, retinoids aren’t entirely a false dawn—in fact, using the right formulation can ease the side effects mentioned above. But because they’re innately a potent ingredient, it’s important to take into account that formulations matter—some may work for others, and some may not. Consult with a trusted skin specialist before hopping on board the retinoid revolution.
Fighting acne with Remedy
When it comes to clearing your skin, we know a solution or two.
We know that salicylic acid is one of the most effective acne fighters out there, and we're not afraid to use it! Our Acne Cleanse is a deep-cleansing facial that uses microcurrent technology with a boost of Salicylic Acid to give your pores the clean they've been craving—and removes unwanted blemishes so your skin can heal itself more quickly.
To regulate sebum production in oily and acne-prone skin at home, try our Innoaesthetics AKN β Purifier Night Gel. It contains salicylic acid that helps the skin shed dead cells from the top layer, decreasing skin redness and inflammation.
We're here for you!
Still got questions? With thorough skin health knowledge, Remedy is ready to empower and educate! Book an appointment with us today by contacting +63 917 873 6339 / +63 2 7975 7984, Instagram (@remedy.ph), Facebook (@remedyph), or www.remedy.ph.
We did our research! 👇🏼
1 PubChem. “Salicylic Acid.” Accessed July 13, 2022. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/338.
2 Arif, Tasleem. “Salicylic Acid as a Peeling Agent: A Comprehensive Review.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 8 (August 26, 2015): 455–61. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S84765.
3 Davies, M., and R. Marks. “Studies on the Effect of Salicylic Acid on Normal Skin.” British Journal of Dermatology 95, no. 2 (August 1976): 187–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1976.tb00825.x.
4 Davies, M., and R. Marks. “Studies on the Effect of Salicylic Acid on Normal Skin.” British Journal of Dermatology 95, no. 2 (August 1976): 187–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1976.tb00825.x.
5 Lu, Jin, Tianxin Cong, Xiang Wen, Xiaoxue Li, Dan Du, Gu He, and Xian Jiang. “Salicylic Acid Treats Acne Vulgaris by Suppressing AMPK / SREBP 1 Pathway in Sebocytes.” Experimental Dermatology 28, no. 7 (July 2019): 786–94. https://doi.org/10.1111/exd.13934.
6 “Salicylic Acid Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” Accessed July 13, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a607072.html.