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Salicylic acid: 7 reasons why it should be part of skin care routine

Salicylic acid does more than acne prevention. It is very beneficial for your skin. Check out the benefits of salicylic acid for skin.
View All Images Woman applying cream on face
Salicylic acid has many benefits for skin. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 29 Jan 2024, 12:00 pm IST
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Be it body washes, serums, moisturisers, or facial cleansers, salicylic acid is found in many skin care products. They are especially found in a variety of products that are meant to deal with acne. But it is not just for women with acne-prone skin or oily skin. Salicylic acid, which can effectively penetrate your pores, slough away dull skin. Ultimately, using salicylic acid will give you a healthy-looking complexion, something that most of want. If you’re wondering whether salicylic acid can be used every day and if it has any side effects, here’s everything you need to know about salicylic acid for skin.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid derived from various natural sources such as willow bark, wintergreen leaves, and sweet birch. It is also a hydroxyl derivative of benzoic acid, says dermatologist Dr Rashmi Aderao.

Woman applying cream
Use salicylic acid face creams for clear and bright skin. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock.

What are the benefits of salicylic acid for skin?

Salicylic acid is commonly used in skin care products due to its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some of its benefits:

1. Minimises pores

Salicylic acid helps reduce the appearance of pores on face. It removes dirt and impurities that are not good for your skin.

2. Skin exfoliation

Since it is a beta hydroxy acid, it aids in the removal of dead skin cells. This helps to promote smoother skin, the expert tells Health Shots.

3. Acne prevention

It can penetrate deep into pores. So, it helps to break down oils and dead skin cells that can lead to acne breakouts.

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4. Reduces skin irritation

Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties. They can help to reduce redness and skin irritation.

5. Astringent effect

It has astringent effect that can help in tightening and making the skin firm. It may reduce fine lines and wrinkles on your face.

6. Reduces acne lesions and comedones

Salicylic acid helps in the removal of blackheads and whiteheads. It does so by breaking up oil and dirt that block pores.

7. Reduces blemishes

Salicylic acid aids in fading dark spots. It promotes a more even skin tone by accelerating the turnover of skin cells, says Dr Aderao.

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What are the ways to include salicylic acid in a skin care routine?

Salicylic acid can be incorporated into a skin care routine through various products. Some of them include:

1. Gels and creams

Salicylic acid gels and creams are topical treatments that are directly applied to affected areas of the skin. Choose a product with a suitable concentration of salicylic acid based on your skin’s sensitivity. For example, lower concentrations (around 0.5 percent to 2 percent) are suitable for daily use, while higher concentrations may be reserved for spot treatments.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you can use it daily. But those with sensitive skin, should start with less frequent application (every other day) and adjust based on skin response. As for women with dry skin, use sparingly and consider pairing with a moisturiser to prevent excessive dryness, suggests the expert.

2. Cleansers

Salicylic acid cleansers are designed to be used during regular cleansing routines. Look for a product with a balanced formula, ensuring effective cleansing without causing excessive dryness. For women with oily or acne-prone skin, daily use of face cleansers is generally suitable. Those with sensitive or dry skin, should consider using it two to three times a week initially, and adjust based on skin response.

Woman washing face
You can include salicylic acid face wash in your skin care routine. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

3. Peels

Salicylic acid peels are available in various concentrations for at-home or in-office use. For at-home use, choose a peel with a lower concentration (usually 1 to 2 percent for beginners) to avoid excessive irritation. Beginners can use it once a week while experienced users may use it two to three times a week. When it comes to in-office peels, the frequency is determined by a dermatologist based on the specific peel used and individual skin response.

What are the side effects of salicylic acid?

Side effects are more likely to occur with higher concentrations or in the presence of wounds and abrasions that increase systemic absorption, says the expert.

Here are some side effects of salicylic acid –

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Hyperventilation

Always do a patch test before widespread application, and if irritation occurs, stop using salicylic acid for skin.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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