What Does Salicylic Acid Do?

acne treatment BPO Benzoyl Peroxide
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Salicylic acid is a great way to get rid of pimples, acne and other blemishes that appear on your skin. This acid is found in many exfoliators and is a great item to add to your nighttime skincare routine because it acts quickly and keeps your skin fresh. Salicylic acid might be the magic potion you have been looking for to get rid of all your skin problems.

Before using salicylic acid, you need to understand what it is and if it suits your skin type. If you are unsure about the benefits of salicylic acid, how it affects your skin then you have come to the right place.

Read this article to learn everything about salicylic acid and whether it is the right choice for you or not.

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). It is obtained from wintergreen leaves and white willow trees. It is a lipophilic, so it is oil soluble and can help unclog pores.

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

Salicylic acid can make your skin feel fresh and radiant at all times by getting rid of acne, blackheads, pimples and other blemishes. Salicylic acid dissolves the glue that helps dead cells in your skin survive by sticking to each other. These dead cells can cause congestion by clogging your pores.

Since salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it exfoliates your pores and your skin. Salicylic acid can also make your skin brighter and increase blood circulation.

Most acne and pimple treatments leave your skin inflamed and red when you first start using them. Salicylic acid has a calming and soothing effect on your skin. It doesn’t typically lead to skin inflammation or breakouts once you start using it.

How Does Salicylic Acid Differ From Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is a drug that reduces acne on your face by getting rid of acne-causing bacteria that are present in your pores.

This drug is in several exfoliators because it removes dead cells and sebum from your skin. It makes your skin brighter and more radiant. The typical concentration for Benzoyl peroxide is usually 2.5% to 10%.

Before getting an exfoliator with BPO, it is best to know what concentration would be suitable for your skin type. For example, if you don’t have severe acne, 2.5% or 5% concentration would be a good idea, but if you have severe acne, 10% concentration might be more suitable for you. Never use 10% concentration on your face if you have a little acne since it may do more damage than good.

Unlike salicylic acid, BPO can show results in less than five days. BPO also kills bacteria and keeps your skin hydrated, healthy and clean. While salicylic acid is soothing when you first apply it to your face, benzoyl peroxide can cause dryness, redness, peeling and acne. BPO can also cause inflammation in the initial days of using it.

Benzoyl peroxide is strong and can easily bleach fabric, so it is best to keep it away from your dark colored clothes. Both – salicylic acid and BPO – are used as skincare ingredients even though they have different uses.

Where salicylic acid dissolves “glue” in your pores, BPO kills bacteria. Salicylic acid is a better fit for people who have hormonal acne, but if you mostly have blemishes and black spots, benzoyl peroxide is a good choice.

Since both of these drugs are safe and available, you can use both on your skin – just don’t use them at the same time. If you’re using an exfoliator with salicylic acid one day, you can use the exfoliator with BPO on the next day.

What Percentage Salicylic Scid Should You Look For?

Most exfoliators have 0.5% to 2% salicylic acid concentration. However, some exfoliators even have 3% concentration of salicylic acid. You can use such exfoliators on your body but not on your face since the skin there is more sensitive. It is best to stick to exfoliators with a low salicylic acid concentration. A higher concentration may not suit every skin type and cause salicylate toxicity.

Who Should Avoid Using Salicylic Acid?

Even though salicylic acid does not cause your skin to break out, applying too much of it can cause long-term damage. Applying a high concentration of salicylic acid on your face can make your skin dry and irritable. Your skin may also start peeling or become too red.

Salicylic acid is a good choice for most people – no matter what skin type – but if your skin reacts to it in the first few days, stop using it altogether. Make sure not to use salicylic acid too much because that can also damage your skin. You may think that using it more than twice a day may help you achieve results faster, but it will only damage your skin further.

Never apply salicylic acid exfoliators on your skin for long periods of time since that can also damage your pores and skin. It is a good idea to use salicylic acid products on your face once or twice a day for 5 to 7 minutes each time. Salicylic acid can reduce your pore size, but you may have to wait four weeks to see significant results.

If you have sensitive or dry skin, it is best to contact your dermatologist before using salicylic acid on your face. Salicylic acid is also not suitable for women who are pregnant and people who are on certain medications like blood thinners. Since large amounts of salicylic acid in your body can cause salicylate poisoning, make sure to apply only a layer on areas that need to be treated.

Our Favorite Salicylic Acid Products

Here are a few salicylic acid-infused products that are easy to use and are good for your skin.

SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel

SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel

Exfoliating gel cleanser decongests pores, smoothes skin texture, and brightens skin.

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The SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel is an exfoliating cleanser. It includes ingredients like glycolic acid, lipo-hydroxy acid, glycerin, sorbitol, and salicylic acid. This cleanser does not only removes makeup and excess oils from your face, but it also cleans your pores and brightens your skin.

SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel reduces breakouts. It contains the perfect blend of salicylic acid and glycolic acid, which will make your skin healthy and prevent it from aging.

Where to buy: Amazon, Dermstore

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

Salicylic Acid 2% Masque is formulated to target lackluster tone and textural irregularities. The formula, infused with charcoal and clays, aims to enhance the appearance of smoothness and clarity, leaving the skin feeling refreshed.

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The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque has a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, which makes it a good choice for people of all skin types.

This serum gets rid of dead cells by penetrating your skin. Besides keeping the skin’s surface clean, it will also keep your skin healthy from the inside. It can also reduce black spots and inflammation. Don’t use this salicylic acid serum on your skin if your skin is peeling.

Where to buy: Amazon, DECIEM, ULTA

Origins Super Spot Remover

Origins Super Spot Remover

Origin's best acne treatment helps quickly fight acne blemishes as it helps visibly correct lingering discoloration for spotless-looking skin.

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The Origins Super Spot Remover is one of the best acne treatments out there since it reduces acne and acne spots. It will also make your face brighter and more radiant if you use it regularly. The Origins Super Spot Remover contains up to 1.5% of salicylic acid, which makes it safe for your face and your body.

Where to buy: Amazon, ULTA, Origins

Final Thoughts

Salicylic acid has various advantages – it can prevent breakouts and keep your skin healthy and fresh. If you want to get rid of acne scars and blemishes, you need to start using salicylic acid. Make sure to use it regularly if you want to see instant results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Salicylic Acid Help Dandruff?

Salicylic acid is used in many dandruff shampoos since it can help remove excess dandruff flakes from your scalp. It can also reduce oil and inflammation on your scalp, which will result in healthy and stronger hair.

Which Plants Contain Salicylic Acid?

Several plants contain salicylic acid. Here are a few of them:

  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Corn
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potato
  • Artichoke
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Seaweed

Which is Better – Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid?

It depends on what you’re trying to treat. Salicylic acid is effective if you want to get rid of acne scars, but if you want to reduce black spots and whiteheads, benzoyl peroxide is a better choice. If you’re looking for quick results, benzoyl peroxide takes very little time.

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