When it comes to acids and the skin, people seem to have a genuine fear of what they can do, but there is nothing to fear. Acids can be your skin’s best friend, especially when treating breakouts, texture and hyperpigmentation. Their strength is what alters the skin’s overall complexion. Salicylic acid, in particular, has the power to truly transform your skin.
There are two types of acids, and more often than not, the skincare that you come across is split between beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). However, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. Another element to note is that BHAs are oil-soluble, whereas AHAs are water-soluble. For the skin, this means that BHAs can penetrate at a deeper level, whereas a water-soluble acid will alter the surface. In essence, AHAs work to loosen dead skin cells and reveal a fresher complexion. BHAs, because they penetrating the dermis, also unclog pores.
The important thing to take away from salicylic acid is that it's a BHA derived from willow bark and can penetrate the skin at an impressive rate that can deliver significant changes.
WHAT IS SALICYLIC ACID KNOWN FOR?
Salicylic acid is the hero product for those that either suffer with acne, blemishes or want to exfoliate the skin. Due to its potency, it works to breakdown the skin debris that has collated on the surface from environmental aggressors, impurities, oil and build up and then clear it from the pores and with anti-inflammatory properties will reduce redness and irritation. As a key for unclogging pores, Salicylic acid works as an assertive exfoliant, considered to be a keratolytic medication, means that the acid is perfect to soften and slough away the top layer of the skin that faces the impurities from the outside world.
Penetrating the skin, the acid section of the BHA molecule will come into contact with intercellular glue that holds the skin cells together and dissolve the “glue” holding it. I know this all sounds very scientific—but in summary this will encourage exfoliation and unclogging of the pores. For blackheads, white heads and blemishes in particular, Salicylic acid works to combat the three factors that can contribute to them, these being excessive sebum production, the structure of Cutibacterium acnes and irregularity around skin cell renewal. Salicylic acid therefore targets skin cell renewal, pushes through the excess oil, unclogs the pores and breaks down the debris that then leads to the cause of blemishes and breakouts.
HOW TO USE SALICYLIC ACID?
Salicylic acid can be used morning and night but as an exfoliant it will increase your skin’s sensitivity to so never skip out on your SPF that can undo all of its efforts.
AVOID SALICYLIC ACID IF…
Depending on the percentage and how often it is used, Salicylic acid can sensitise the skin that results in dryness, redness, irritation or peeling and therefore anyone that suffers with dry skin should avoid using it. In addition, those that may be on certain medications should consult a doctor before use and if pregnant to avoid completely.
Tempted to try it? Keep scrolling for our guide to the best products.
BEST DIRECT SPOT TREATMENT:
The ideal treatment that will target the lone blemishes that appear when they are least wanted. This blemish treatment will treat the spot overnight with its 2% Salicylic acid and reduce its size as well as improve the skins texture. Avoiding the common issues with dryness around blemishes, the hydrating formula allows the spot to disappear without drying the skin.
THE BEST NIGHT TREATMENT:
Known for its design of switching, Lixirskin offers products that are refined with active ingredients so not to allow the skin to be bored, offering a routine that can be switched often in order to stimulates the cells and encourage your best skin all at once. Focusing on less rather than more, this blend of salicylic acid with lactic and azelaic acid pushes for the dissolving of dead skin, revealing an even skin tone, reduction of pore size and blackheads over time.
BEST USE OF NATURAL OILS:
With its formulation harnessed from the power of natural oils, the Blemish Rescue Oil is designed with 2% Salicylic acid to penetrate pores for that desired deep clean, slough away dead skin cells and minimise scarring and irritation. Seamlessly blended with natural oils like Tamanu Oil, the miniature miracle oil leaves skin soft, healed and healthy without irritation. As a bonus, this is hand-blended in the UK, the bottle is recyclable and doesn't contain any nasty ingredients.
BEST FOR DAILY USE:
Designed in an exfoliating liquid that can be used once or twice a day, the perfecting liquid exfoliant absorbs quickly, the leave-on exfoliant targets the surface as well as the dermis and minimises the appearance of pores. The lightweight texture delivers a potent result that encourages cell turnover leaving a smoother, more refined and radiant complexion.
BEST CLEAN VEGAN Product:
Cruelty free, clean and vegan, this exfoliating serum banishes blemishes in a natural way. Blending both 2% Salicylic acid and tea tree oil (a natural driver for detoxifying), the formula fights redness, acne, blackheads and whiteheads whilst smoothing and hydrating the skin. Investing other potent ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and Lactic Acid, the cocktail mix soothes, hydrates and brightens whilst penetrating to the deepest layer of the skin’s dermis.
BEST BUDGET BUY:
For those that needs the results without emptying the bank account should call upon The Ordinary. This 2% treatment solution helps exfoliate the inside structure of the pores, supporting the clarity of the complexion. Used both morning and night and on the blemishes directly, this treatment is effective yet inexpensive.