Salicylic acid is often used in skin care for acne control and as an anti aging ingredient. It is a beta hydroxy acid that works as an exfoliant and to dissolve skin oil that clogs pores. Salicylic acid skin care products come in many formulations designed for different skin types and treatments. It is common in lotions, serum, creams, peels, cleansers, and toners. It can benefit most skin types, but is particularly helpful for people with oily and acne prone skin.
The purpose of your salicylic acid skin care products will determine what strength is used the formulation. Products designed to control acne will typically contain 2% – 3% salicylic acid. Anti aging products will often have stronger concentrations of 5% or higher. Salicylic acid peels are usually between 10% and 30%, which is very strong. Wart removers will typically contain between 15% and 40% salicylic acid. You can use salicylic acid to fight acne, to peel skin, to soften tough skin on the body, and for scar removal.
Hydroxy acids are very strong and can burn and irritate your skin if used incorrectly. You should not jump into daily use products that contain 5% or more salicylic acid. It is best to give your skin time to adjust to the acidity by starting off with mild salicylic acid skin care products and gradually working your way up. Start using creams serums or lotions that contain 2-3% salicylic for a week or so before graduating to a 5% product. After using that for a few weeks, try to find a peel with a 10% to 15% concentration. Make sure your skin has healed completely before repeating the peel. After using mild peels a few times, gradually work your way up to stronger formulations. You can greatly reduce your chance of experiencing chemical peel side effects with this method. Following your chemical peel with a neutralizer will help you to reduce any irritation. Treat the new skin with rejuvenating skin care products that don’t exfoliate, and be sure to use sun block daily.
Salicylic acid skin care products are some of the best choices to fight acne. Beta hydroxy acids are lipid, or oil, soluble, meaning they are absorbed into skin oil on the surface of your skin, or trapped within pores. This is what makes it so effective for treating acne. A pimple is an infected pore that has been clogged with skin oil called sebum and other debris. Salicylic acid will penetrate this pore and break up the clog. It also constricts the diameter of pores, making it a very effective way to get rid of large pores and keep acne from returning. You do not need a strong concentration of salicylic acid to accomplish this. 2% is very effective, and is commonly found in toner soaked cotton pads, serums, lotions, and acne creams. It will take several treatments for the clogs to dissolve entirely, so use the products consistently.
A salicylic acid serum will work best for combination and oily skin types and for people who don’t want a moisturizer. A salicylic acid lotion or cream will work best for people with dry or sensitive skin, because the formulation will contain hydrating ingredients that soothe and calm skin irritation. Peels and toners are suitable for all skin types, as long as you aren’t starting off using a concentration above 5%.
Alpha hydroxy acids work well with salicylic acid. Many skin care products will contain both acids. Alpha hydroxy acids like lactic or glycolic acid are water-soluble. They are very effective at breaking up dead skin cells that adhere to the surface of live skin. This is a common cause of acne, because a layer of dead skin can trap dirt and oil inside of a pore. If you haven’t had great result using salicylic acid skin care products on their own, try using an acne product that also contains lactic or glycolic acid. You will have to use sun block daily when you use alpha hydroxy acids, because they will cause your skin to become much more sensitive to sun exposure.
Be careful when using other exfoliating skin care products if you are going to use formulations with strong concentrations of salicylic acid. Many anti aging and anti acne products contain an alpha hydroxy acid. Certain active ingredients like retinoids and Vitamin C can also have an exfoliating effect. Be sure to check your product label for warnings about sun exposure and over exfoliation. If you are using strong exfoliation methods like microdermabrasion treatments, be sure to treat your skin with rejuvenating and botanical moisturizers. Helping the newly exposed skin heal will give the best results.
Salicylic acid is well known to help control acne, but has other skin benefits as well. You can find salicylic acid skin care products for almost every skin care regimen and for all skin types.