A common ingredient of skin products for acne, salicylic acid causes deep exfoliation of skin pores and keeps your skin clean and healthy. It is available over the counter in mild formulations, prescription medications for application over affected areas, and as chemical peels.

Read further to know in detail about the benefits of salicylic acid for skin and face, its various uses, and compatibility with other skincare ingredients.

What is salicylic acid?

A beta-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is oil-soluble and has been used for a long time for treating acne-affected skin. Due to its lipid-friendly nature, it readily penetrates through the skin's layers. Salicylic acid is found in the leaves of trees like the wintergreen and the willow.

It is primarily used in skincare to treat mild to moderate acne and blackheads and whiteheads. Research has shown salicylic acid to have anti-infective, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

What does salicylic acid do to skin?

Topical salicylic acid for skin belongs to a group of medications known as keratolytic agents. It helps debride accumulated layers of keratinized or thickened and scaly skin. It cleans clogged skin pores.

In addition, it works as a deep exfoliant by loosening layers of skin, which helps clear the accumulated infection or keratinized skin to shed more quickly so that the underlying skin can heal. Salicylic acid for face also prevents breakouts due to its anti-inflammatory action.

Interesting Facts about salicylic acid

Here are some interesting facts about this excellent exfoliant:

  1. Salicylic acid was discovered as a medical ingredient in 1838.
  2. It is a lipid-soluble (dissolves readily in fat) acid.
  3. It is a plant product. (Salix means willow tree)
  4. In olden times, salicylic acid was used to treat fevers and intestinal obstruction.
  5. Salicylic acid works great to exfoliate. This action helps it to reduce dandruff.
  6. Daily use of salicylic acid can cause your skin to be more affected by the sun's UV radiation. Therefore, sunscreen use is a must.
  7. It is extensively used in the production of aspirin.
  8. Research is being conducted to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation with salicylic acid due to positive results (an anti-inflammatory action and whitening effect on cells of treated skin) in a small study group.
  9. It is used as a food preservative.
  10. Salicylic acid does not dissolve in water at room temperature. But readily dissolves in water with 3 PH value.
  11. Regular foods like cumin, chilli powder, paprika, and turmeric powder contain noticeable amounts of salicylic acid.

What are the benefits of salicylic acid for skin?

Salicylic acid is a potent remedy for several skin issues. Mild concentrations can be used regularly for skin care. However, care should be taken in cases of prolonged use, large skin areas, and use for children. It is important to understand the mechanism of its action to know what is the benefits of salicylic acid for skin.

Some of the salicylic acid benefits for skin are as follows:

1. Remedy for acne-prone skin

Salicylic acid for pimple treatment works by reducing redness, unclogging pores, and removing dead skin layers.

2. Clears whiteheads

Salicylic acid helps unblock the pores and reduces oil secretion in treating whiteheads.

3. Removes dead skin cells

It is a keratolytic agent that helps loosen accumulated keratin layers. This loosened layer then sheds easily and brings the new fresh layer of skin on top.

4. Anti-inflammatory

Salicylic acid helps to reduce swelling and redness over inflamed skin. It also helps sensitive skin to heal.

5. Reduces oil/sebum

Excess oil or sebum secretion can clog pores and form pustular acne. The use of salicylic acid for oily skin can help to reduce oil secretion by exfoliating the deep lipid layers of the skin. This, in turn, helps to give you clearer-looking skin over regular use.

6. Soothes sunburns

Salicylic acid is proven to inhibit UVB-induced sunburn cell formation. Additionally, Salicylic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce the swelling/redness associated with sunburn.

7. Anti-fungal/antimicrobial

Salicylic acid for skin benefits include preventing the proliferation of microbes in acne-prone skin. It is also found to work as an excellent antifungal agent in the case of scalp dandruff. Salicylic acid helps speed up the scalp's cell renewal process, which, when slowed down, causes flaky dandruff made of dead skin cells.

What are the uses of salicylic acid?

If you are wondering, what is the use of salicylic acid exactly, then there are plenty. Different formulations of salicylic acid are used to treat different conditions of the skin and face. Salicylic acid uses for skin include usage for the face, usually in the treatment of acne.

Other compositions are used for thickened and scaly skin conditions like psoriasis, dandruff, corn, calluses, a few types of warts, and autoimmune conditions like keratosis pilaris. Salicylic acid before and after images of your skin would help understand the difference and impact in terms of treating these conditions.

Salicylic acid uses for Face

  • Salicylic acid for acne-prone skin: Is salicylic acid good for acne treatment? The answer is yes. It works by reducing oil production, redness, and swelling associated with acne. It has antimicrobial properties, which help reduce the microbial count associated with acne and helps unclog dead skin cells from skin pores.
  • Salicylic acid for blemishes/dark spots: Due to its exfoliating properties, salicylic acid can help remove hyperpigmentation or dark spots on the face, especially after acne.
  • Salicylic acid for pores’ size control: Salicylic acid helps to reduce pore size by unclogging any dead skin cells, which may increase the size of pores.
  • Salicylic acid for blackheads: Blackheads are clogged skin pores that remain open. Salicylic acid can help loosen dirt and dead skin cells by keratolysis.
  • Salicylic acid for whiteheads: They are closed, clogged skin pores that can be treated by debridement with salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid uses for Body Skin

  • Salicylic acid for psoriasis: Salicylic acid helps loosen the accumulated dead skin layers, which can result in more clear skin. It also helps reduce redness.
  • Salicylic acid for ichthyosis: Formulations containing mild salicylic acid can dislodge the dead skin layers that tend to form over healthy skin in ichthyosis.
  • Salicylic acid for keratosis pilaris: Cleansers or body lotions are prescribed in cases of keratosis pilaris. It helps to debride the upper dead skin layer. Regular use can give clearer-looking skin.
  • Salicylic acid for dandruff: Salicylic acid soothes the scalp and helps a more effective turnover of dead skin cells on the scalp by deeper exfoliation.
  • Salicylic acid for warts on feet: Higher concentration of salicylic acid is used for spot treatment of warts on hands and feet. It exfoliates the keratinized skin layer.
  • Salicylic acid for corn/calluses on hands and feet: Dead, keratinized, and hard skin layers of corn on hands and feet are loosened with the aid of topical salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid products

Our practical, no-frills, and clean skincare range at Deconstruct offers you a range of skincare products containing salicylic acid for the face and skin. You can experience the fantastic benefits of this exfoliant and other skin-nourishing ingredients to give you healthy-looking, clean skin.

Salicylic acid products for Face

  • Deconstruct pore control serum (2% salicylic acid and 3% Niacinamide) - This perfect combination of ingredients helps reduce clogged pores by removing dead cells and reducing inflammation.
  • Deconstruct exfoliating serum (18% AHA + 2% salicylic acid) - AHA and salicylic acid combine to gently exfoliate the dead skin layer to give you clearer skin.
  • Salicylic acid oil control face wash (0.5%, salicylic acid +1%, Niacinamide) - The double benefit of salicylic acid and niacinamide helps to reduce sebum production in oily skin.

Salicylic acid products for Body Skin

  • Anti-dandruff serum for the scalp (0.5% piroctone Olamine + 2% salicylic acid + 1% prebiotic) - This combination relieves dandruff and itchy scalp by its antifungal and calming action on the scalp.
  • AHA, BHA exfoliating scalp serum (1% salicylic acid +1% lactic acid + 2% zinc complex) - Dead skin layers of the scalp are washed clean with the help of the ingredients of this scalp serum.
  • Exfoliating body wash 11%, AHA +2%, salicylic acid - It is the best salicylic acid body wash choice for people looking for gentle skin exfoliation for conditions like psoriasis, ichthyosis, keratosis pilaris, and even acne-prone back and arms.

How to use salicylic acid with other Ingredients

  • Is it safe to mix Salicylic acid and Vitamin C?

Yes, salicylic acid and vitamin C are great ingredients for skincare. Consult your dermatologist to know what works best for you. Salicylic acid use before vitamin C helps it penetrate faster into the skin. However, we recommend using them separately at different times to reduce the risk of developing skin irritation.

  • Is it safe to use Salicylic acid and Glycolic acid together?

It is generally considered safe to use glycolic acid and salicylic acid together.

  • What should I use before salicylic acid?

As salicylic acid is a PH-dependent ingredient, you can use a mild face cleanser to clean your face before using salicylic acid serum.

  • What to apply after salicylic acid?

You must apply a skin-appropriate moisturizer and sunscreen with a minimum of 30 to 50 SPF after salicylic acid.

  • What can I use with salicylic acid?

Several skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Niacinamide can be used along with salicylic acid. Talk to your skin doctor about how to use salicylic acid on your face.

  • Is salicylic acid good for sensitive skin?

Salicylic acid has a calming effect on most skin types (even in conditions like rosacea). It can be used on sensitive skin in mild concentrations (neutral salicylic acid of 0.5-1%)

  • Is salicylic acid good for skin?

Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, keratolytic, and calming effects on most skin types. Therefore it is a good skincare product.

  • Is salicylic acid toxic?

It is not usually toxic with topical application. But ingesting salicylic acid 150-300 mg may cause neurological effects like lethargy or excitement. Doses above 500 mg can cause seizures.

  • How much salicylic acid is safe?

The best salicylic acid for skin use is recommended in the range of 0.2-2% (1-3 times/day). Use by children is only for the age of 2+ and in mild concentrations.