The beauty industry has seen a huge increase in the use of acids in skincare formulations over the last few years, and one of the biggest names in the arena is salicylic acid. It may sound like something you squirted from a pipette in science class, but salicylic acid is a skin-friendly compound that is revolutionising the exfoliation game. Here’s what you need to know…
What Is Salicylic Acid?
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), one of a group of organic acids in which a carboxylic acid functional group and hydroxy functional group are separated by two atoms. Unless you have a love of molecular chemistry, this might not mean much to you, but ultimately this structure allows BHAs to unblock pores and break down unpleasant build-up on the surface of the skin.
How Does It Work?
The reason that salicylic acid is used in beauty and skincare products is the way that it functions when applied to the skin. The acid dissolves bonds which form between cells on the skin’s surface, helping to break down dry patches and exfoliate deeply. This same function also works on clogged pores, as the acid penetrates deep enough into the pore to break any bonds which have caused clogging.
As an additional benefit to skin health, the cleansing action of salicylic acid can reduce the production of sebum. This can lead to clearer skin for those prone to acne and makes it a great tool against blemishes.
As if that weren’t enough, salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial – a veritable powerhouse of benefits!
Who Can Benefit From Using Salicylic Acid?
With such a wealth of deep cleaning functions, it’s no surprise that salicylic acid is ideal for those who suffer from oily skin and/or acne breakouts. Regularly using salicylic acid as part of your cleansing routine will clear the oily surface layer of the skin, remove any buildup from pores, reduce sebum, help to reduce blackheads and whiteheads, and provide your skin with antibacterial properties to reduce the risk of further breakouts.
But with all that said, those of us suffering from dry skin may find relief from the use of salicylic acid too! Whether you struggle with flaky patches or have combination skin, you may well find that the exfoliation properties of an acid cleanser can help. However, due to the potential for salicylic acid to dry out the skin, it’s important to monitor yours closely to ascertain how it reacts.
What Products Contain Salicylic Acid?
Thanks to it’s natural exfoliating and cleansing properties you’ll find salicylic acid in everything from anti-dandruff products to high-end acne treatments.
When choosing a product which includes salicylic acid, it is worth noting that concentrations will vary, from only containing trace amounts at the low end, to 2% at the high end. Check the ingredients list of your chosen product to see where in the list salicylic acid is mentioned, the higher it features on the list, the more is present in the product.
Want to give it a try? Here are a few of our favourite products which utilise the qualities of salyclic acid.
A gentle formula which includes essential oils and organic rose water, this cleanser by Caudalie is a great way to experiment with salicylic acid if you have sensitive, dry or combination skin.
If you’re looking for a product that has a bit more oomph, this peel from Darphin is a great choice. It’s a low-level peel which includes botanicals for total skin-renewal and has the bonus of including other organic acids too.
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If your acne struggle isn’t contained solely to your face, you’ll know how difficult it can be to find products that can help. This scrub by Peter Thomas Roth is a fantastic addition to your skincare routine as it has been designed to target both areas. With 1% salicylic acid you’ll see results in no time.
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