Expert Advice

How to use Salicylic Acid: The Guide

Woman applying a salicylic acid face mask to her face.

Salicylic acid, a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA), is a powerful skincare ingredient. When correctly incorporated into a skincare routine, it can be effective for helping to exfoliate the skin.

However, you might be wondering how to use salicylic acid to see if its purported benefits could contribute towards achieving a healthier-looking complexion. Explore our expert guide to find out.

How to use Salicylic Acid on Face

From cleansers to serums, there are several different skincare products containing this ingredient, all of which require a slightly different application method.

We recommend using one or two salicylic acid products in your skincare routine rather than using them exclusively for each step.

Whether you’re looking to see if it can help with acne symptoms or reduce the appearance of blackheads, first, you’ll need to be au fait with how to use salicylic acid to give you the best chance of seeing results.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Gently massage a small amount of salicylic acid cleanser to damp skin for about 30 seconds, focusing on areas prone to breakouts. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry.

We recommend using the cleanser once a day to start with, building up to twice daily, both morning and evening, if your skin responds well to it.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Toner

Saturate a cotton pad with salicylic acid toner and sweep it across your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding with the rest of your skincare routine.

Depending on your skin’s sensitivity and tolerance, use toner once or twice daily to help remove any remaining build up on the skin’s surface.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Serum

Dispense a pea-sized amount of salicylic acid serum onto your fingertips and gently press it into clean, dry skin. Allow it to absorb fully before applying other products.

As serums tend to be more concentrated, we recommend using it once daily – preferably in the evening.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Moisturiser

You should apply your moisturiser as one of the final steps of your skincare routine. Simply dispense a penny-sized amount of product onto your fingertips and gently massage it into your skin using circular motions.

We recommend moisturising twice daily to ensure the skin remains hydrated and healthy.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Face Mask

A face mask is a great option if you want to incorporate salicylic acid into your routine as a targeted treatment once or twice a week.

The application method will depend on your chosen product, so we recommend following the recommendations provided.

However, as a general rule, traditional masks will require you to apply a thin, even layer to clean, dry skin, avoiding the eye and lip area. You’ll need to let it work its magic for the specified time – usually around 10 minutes – before rinsing it with lukewarm water and following with your favourite moisturiser.

Salicylic acid sheet masks are very easy to use. You simply need to fit the mask to your face and sit back and relax for 10-15 minutes before removing, discarding the sheet and patting in any excess serum.

How to Apply a Salicylic Acid Treatment

Apply a targeted salicylic acid treatment directly onto blemishes or affected areas using a clean fingertips cotton swab.

Allow it to dry before applying other products. Use the treatment as needed to spot-treat acne breakouts and help reduce inflammation and redness.

When to use Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid can be used in the morning or evening, depending on the type of product and your individual skincare routine.

If you’re using it in the morning, we recommend using a lightweight sun cream alongside it, as it could temporarily disturb your skin barrier due to its exfoliation properties, which may increase sun sensitivity.

How Often to Apply Salicylic Acid

With any acids, we always recommend starting slowly and increasing the frequency of application as your skin builds up tolerance.

Begin by using it two to three times a week and observe how your skin reacts. You might be wondering if you can use salicylic acid every day, but this will largely depend on your skin type.

It is possible to build up to daily use over time, but it’s important to remember that overuse could lead to skin irritation, so it’s crucial to find a balance that works for you.

Salicylic acid can be a game-changer in your skincare routine when used correctly and consistently. From cleansers and toners to moisturisers and targeted treatments, salicylic acid offers a range of formulas that could work for you.

Want to learn more about salicylic acid? Our tell-all guide could help answer all your questions today!



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