Skincare products containing salicylic acid can cure acne, irritation and an an uneven texture. Here's what you need to know about this multi-tasking beauty ingredient...
Although it sounds scary, salicylic acid could be your new skin saviour.
What is salicylic acid?
Less commonly known as beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid is a multi-tasking ingredient that can tackle skin’s many problems. Often prescribed by doctors, it’s a must for anyone prone to acne, due to its exfoliating nature. As an anti-irritant, it has the ability to soothe stressed skin, reduce redness and work as an anti-inflammatory to calm breakouts and angry skin. It’s also a keratolytic medication, which means that it’s an excellent exfoliator.
How does it work?
Salicylic acid breaks down the bond that keeps dead cells together. If not broken down, this bond can clog pores leading to blackheads and whiteheads. The acid part of the molecule can dissolve some of the intercellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together. It’s also been proven to have renewing properties, helping to firm and plump the skin by promoting new cell turnover.
The reason salicylic acid is able to give such a deep clean is because it can penetrate deep into the pore lining. This means it’s able to exfoliate inside the pore as well as the surface of the skin. On top of that, it can reduce sebum secretion – another way to reduce acne.
Salicylic acid can also help combat dandruff. In much the same way as it helps rid your skin of dead cells, so too does it rid your scalp of dry, flaky skin. You can find the perfect salicylic acid cleanser on our sister site, Powder.
What to expect
When you first apply you’ll experience some stinging and perhaps peeling, dry, and reddened skin. But, it’s actually safe to use on sensitive skin and even has anti-inflammatory properties. Over time, your skin will become accustomed to it and the side effects will lessen. You’ll also notice that your skin is smoother and clearer.
Think you could benefit from a hit of salicylic acid? Read on to shop our favourite products, all including that one important ingredient…
We’re big fans of the Origins Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Pads here at MC. Even if you are only prone to occasional breakouts (whether it’s down to hormones, late nights or the odd slip in your healthy eating regime), these daily-use pads are a great way to keep spots, blackheads and blemishes at bay. Use after cleansing, in place of a toner and sweep over skin, avoiding the eye area. The mix of salicylic acid, clove and oregano will clear pores and minimise oil to help keep your skin clean and clear all day.
Is there anything salicylic acid can’t get to work on? We think not. The very clever L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Volumetry Anti Gravity Shampoo is a must for fine or lank hair. Using salicylic acid to slough away dead skin cells – the cause of flat hair – this clarifying shampoo purifies the hair to leave you with voluminous, ultra-clean locks.
One of the best new products to launch this year, the Clinique Smart Custom Serum will shake-up your skincare routine. Clinique claim this serum can read your skin’s past, present and future – but whether that is true or not, what it does do is fight the signs of ageing, clear an uneven skin tone and add radiance. You can even skip the primer when using this serum. A scientifically-researched mix of peptides and salicylic acids help to replenish healthy cells and reduce damaged cells (Clinique say these are ‘cell-communicating’ ingredients), all of which can only lead us to believe this is the future of skincare.
Add this anti-spot, anti-ageing toner to your routine to resurface and rebalance your complexion. A mix of various acids, including the all-important salicylic, exfoliate the skin for a more refined look. Pores are unblocked and minified, excess oil is reduced and skin is hydrated with this multitasking buy. The Skinceuticals Blemish Age Cleansing Gel is to be used twice a day, after cleansing to prep your skin for moisture, leaving your complexion primed for make-up application.
Achieving a flawless base is impossible if your make-up is clogging up your skin and creating blemishes. The Maybelline Foundation Dream Pure BB Cream fuses skincare benefits with lasting coverage to keep your complexion in tip top condition. A healthy dose of salicylic acid acts as a purifying barrier on the skin, so spots and blemishes are the last thing you need to worry about. A lightweight and buildable cream, this BB also evens out texture, minimises pores and reduces shine. A beauty bargain at just £6.99, this is how to create satin-smooth skin every day without breaking the bank.
An acne-emergency must-have, the Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum will become your go-to product for bad breakouts. Apply before bed on a particularly bad day to reveal healed skin by morning. Constant sufferer? Make this part of your nightly ritual to help prevent eruptions before they start. Use before your regular night cream in a thin layer to calm and unclog your troubled complexion.
Yes, that’s right. Salicylic acid can also benefit your feet. The Bliss Foot Patrol is tougher on hard skin than any exfoliator, renewing cell turn over and hydrating for silky soft soles. Apply before bed to allow the blend of alpha hydroxy and salicylic acid to slough away dry skin, so you can wake to beautifully smooth feet. Peppermint cools tired toes and aloe soothes and hydrates to give a well rounded (and effortless) pedicure.
Give your oily complexion a burst of balancing salicylic acid to help eliminate spots and excessive sebum production. Una Brennan’s SuperFacialist Mattifying Moisturiser uses a mix of salicylic acid and watercress, horsetail and nettle extracts to stop oily and blemish-prone skin in its steps, to smooth and even out your complexion. Use this lightly-scented cream every morning to minimise and clean up blocked pores. Create for combination skin as well, as it’s not too drying.
For seriously stressed out skin, a targeted treatment is a must. The Skyn Iceland Anti Blemish Gel is a clear and unscented liquid which gets to work quickly on unwanted breakouts. Thanks to the colourless gel, this anti-blemish treatment can be worn under make-up, unlike other paste-like creams, which leave a white residue. There is no stinging either, but we guarantee it will still work. Use regularly for daily blemish control.