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  • Writer's pictureNatural Skin By Lynne

Salicylic Acid! What Is It & How Does It Work?

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

The first spot/zit treatment most of us encounter is benzoyl peroxide! Once you've ruined enough bed linen and sheets with the bleaching side effect, people tend to search for other acne treatments. That's when you might hear about salicylic acid, one of the single most effective acne treatments available. But what is salicylic acid? And does it have applications beyond your skin blemishes? Here’s my quick guide on Salicylic Acid.....

Salicylic acid and how it effects our skin and acne with Natural Skin by Lynne

What is salicylic acid?

From a molecular standpoint, salicylic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in plants that's part of a family of compounds considered phenolic acids and beta hydroxy acids. In essence, it is a gentle chemical exfoliant.

On the skin, the acids found in these plants, break apart cellular connections, causing dead skin cells to slough off. Salicylic acid is also soluble in oil, so it has the ability to penetrate oil glands and unclog pores.

There is some research to suggest that salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory benefits, which means it could help reduce skin redness and irritation, too.

It's the gentlest—and, arguably, most effective—treatment for acne.

How is salicylic acid used?

Over the counter, salicylic acid is available in concentrations anywhere from 0.5 percent to 2 percent, and is found in spot treatments, cleansers, body washes, masks, lotions and creams.

In these topical products, salicylic acid works to exfoliate, increase skin cell turnover, and can help to give you a brighter, smoother complexion.

What are the benefits of salicylic acid?

Because of its oil solubility, salicylic acid is particularly effective against comedonal acne —whiteheads and blackheads—where the blemishes are attributed to clogged pores and lagging skin turnover.

Acne related to inflammatory issues, which manifests as painful acne cysts and pustules, is best addressed with benzoyl peroxide, but caught early enough, salicylic acid & a good skincare routine would be enough to reverse the effects of acne.

Are there any downsides to salicylic acid?

Because salicylic acid has a low pH, it can be irritating to the skin.... This is more of an issue with clients whom have darker skin where that irritation can lead to hyperpigmentation.

If you're layering salicylic acid with other topical products with ingredients such as glycolic acid or retinol, it can also leave your skin dry and irritated, so work with a skin specialist to create a targeted layering approach.

Also: Salicylic acid can be absorbed by the skin, so it's not recommended during pregnancy.

For more information, help or advice on your skin please get in touch –

Your skin will thank you!

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