Expert Advice

Why Salicylic Acid is the best acid for your skin

Acid. Acid. Acid. It’s the beauty buzz word of the moment. To help you decipher between your AHA’s and your BHA’s, our beauty editor delves into why Salicylic Acid is one of the best acids for your skin.

Firstly, what is Salicylic Acid?

Otherwise known as acne’s arch enemy, Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Often prescribed by doctors to those suffering from acne, it’s an ingredient which can tackle many skincare problems. Known for its exfoliating nature, it can slough away at dead skin cells just as effectively as a traditional face scrub. Whilst it might sound harsh in nature, as an anti-irritant, Salicylic Acid also has incredibly soothing qualities that help to calm breakouts and sooth angry, destressed skin.

How does it work?

In short, Salicylic Acid works by attacking your skin’s natural ‘glue’. It works so effectively on acne as it dissolves the debris on the skin that clogs pores and causes spots. Due to its molecular structure, it’s able to penetrate deep into the skin, breaking down the skin’s desmosomes – the attachments between cells in the outer layer of the skin. Considered as a keratolytic medication, it means it’s professional at exfoliation. Salicylic Acid is also lipophilic, meaning that it can penetrate oily skin and reduce sebum secretion, another way it can help reduce acne.

What to know more about what’s in your skincare? Discover our ingredient Glossary here.

What type of skin is it good for? (Or not good for?)

Salicylic Acid is great for people with traditionally problematic or acneic skin. It works by killing bacteria that create acne by exfoliating deep into the pores. Cleverly, it also works to constrict the pore diameter which in turn helps to reduce the risk of future clogging – hence why it’s amazing at clearing up problematic skin.

Though it’s generally safe to use on all skin types, its potent formulation can be somewhat drying, especially on sensitive skin types. If your skin is prone to dryness, be cautious about the percentage of Salicylic Acid that you’re using and opt for a product with a lower dose.

Our top Salicylic Acid products to try now: 

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Writer and expert