What Does Salicylic Acid Do? Why Is It Recommended?

There are many skin care products flooding the aisle of our stores every single day. In this flood, came acids which may sound very daunting but have created a great buzz. And one such acid is salicylic acid. 

It is called the biggest enemy of acne and many beauty and skincare gurus have sworn by it. Salicylic acid is been used as an active ingredient in many products these days. Before applying anything to the face, all the information about the product is an absolute necessity. So if you are curious and want to know more about salicylic acid, we got your back. In this article, we’ll be covering what salicylic acid is, all the good and the bad about it so that you are well aware of everything that you put onto your face.

Related Read: Everything You Need To Know About The Hyaluronic Acid

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Before you use it, you need to know what salicylic acid is in the first place. It is an ingredient that is extracted from the willow tree bark. There are two classes of acids prominently known in skincare-  beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid which means it is oil and fat-soluble. 

The molecular structure of this acid makes it more oil-soluble. It is known that oil-soluble ingredients penetrate through the lipid layers between the skin cells more readily than water-soluble ingredients. In layman’s terms, oil soluble ingredients can penetrate into the pores of the skin. 

Since it is an oil soluble acid, it is generally believed that it gives a deeper cleanse.

What Are The Benefits Of Salicylic Acid?

Now that we have established what salicylic acid is and how it works, it is time to know the benefits of using it.

1. It Is A Good Exfoliator

AHAs and BHAs both are considered good chemical exfoliators. However, salicylic acid is considered a keratolytic medication which means that perfect for exfoliation. It causes softening of the top layer of skin cells encouraging cellular turnover and helping to slough off dead skin cells. This process in turn can improve skin dullness and texture.

2. Unclogs The Pores

Clogged pores are a serious issue for people with oily skin. The oil gets trapped in the pores and the dirt or dead skin can easily get collected there. This can lead to acne, blackheads or whiteheads which is not desirable at all. 

If you struggle with blackheads or whiteheads, salicylic acid can be very beneficial to you. It can help clear the debris that is clogging your pore and combat acne. Since the BHA is oil-soluble, salicylic acid is a blessing for people with oily skin.

3. Removes Excessive Oil

Salicyclic acid can penetrate beneath the skin’s surface to clean out excess sebum from the pores and reduce oiliness. This can, in turn, also lead to an improvement in the appearance of pores.

4. Promotes Healthy Scalp

Yes, salicylic acid may also promote a healthy scalp. It is used widely in anti-dandruff shampoo due to its keratolytic properties. Since it is oil-soluble, it can give you a cleaner and healthier scalp by removing oil the excessive sebum in your hair.

What Are The Side Effects?

Excessive of anything is often time considered bad. Regardless of the fact that salicylic acid is good for the skin, excessive use of it can cause trouble for some.

1. Can Lead To Irritation and Redness

Salicylic acid is a blessing for people with oily skin however people with dry or sensitive skin may find it abrasive on their skin. Since it is oil soluble it is possible that on dry skin, it causes more dryness. Whereas for sensitive skin, it could be a little harsh because of its exfoliating nature. This could lead to irritation and redness on the skin.

2. Dryness

As mentioned previously, salicylic acid is oil soluble which means it has the tendency of clearing up all oil on the face. The most common side effects of salicylic acid include dry, burning, and overall irritated skin in the areas of application.

3. Sensitivity To Sunlight

If you are sensitive to sunlight be more cautious when you wear salicylic acid as can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. It causes sunburn very easily. Therefore, always protect your skin with sunscreen when applying salicylic acid to your face or any other exposed part of your body.

Related Read: Sunscreen- It’s Need And How To Choose One 

How To Use It?

Although very easily accessible and available over the counter, salicylic acid should be approached with caution. The application of it should be always done with the expertise of your dermatologist. The recommended concentration for your skin type should be consulted with a dermatologist as they could tell the best the right concentration your skin requires.

Since it is used as an exfoliator, moderation is the key to it. Excessive and everyday use of it may not be suitable for everyone.

Our Favorite Products

1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Courtesy- Neutrogena

With 2% of salicylic acid, this is one of our favourite face washes which combats acne like a dream. At a very affordable price point, this is one of the best options available to try. 

2.  Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Courtesy- The Drunk Elephant

We all know salicylic acid is one of the best exfoliators out there and Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial is definitely something you’ll fall in love with. It has 25% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid as active ingredients and together they both work like magic!

3. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner

Courtesy- Glow Recipes

The Glow recipe has taken up the toner game with Watermelon Glow Pore Tight Toner. The BHAs (salicylic acid, willow bark, and betaine salicylate) and PHAs total 6 per cent. This is a very decent concentration of oil dissolving acids. Thus, it works miraculously to provide clearer and brighter skin.

It also has super hydrating ingredients like cactus water, watermelon extract, and hyaluronic acid to replenish and lock in moisture. This toner is a complete package for you!

4. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Courtesy- The Ordinary

Another product we are a die-heart fan of is the Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. At a very budget-friendly price, this peeling solution from The Ordinary has become a viral fan favourite. The glow and refined texture it provides are truly unmissable. The high concentration of acids should be used very cautiously and should only be used as prescribed. 

5. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Courtesy- The Inkey List

This Salicylic Acid cleaner from the Inkey List is our other favourite. The foaming formula doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped instead it gives a very refreshing feel to your skin. It has 2% salicylic acid in it along with anti-inflammatory zinc, irritation-soothing allantoin, and conditioning vitamin E.

The Final Verdict

Salicyclic acid is one of the best ingredients if you are prone to acne and have oily skin. Salicylic has garnered a lot of limelight for all the right reasons. It keeps dead skin, acne and oils away from your skin. While it is absolutely okay to use it, a dermatologist’s advice should be taken to choose the right concentration for you.

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