Salicylic acid is one of the most scientifically-backed skincare ingredients around. While it offers benefits for just about every skin type, this hardworking ingredient gets the most press for its zit zapping powers. From under-the-skin hormonal breakouts to a fresh pimple before for a first date, every skincare shelf needs a little salicylic acid for those skin SOS moments.
Here are five things you need to know about this skincare heavy hitter.
1. It’s a natural soother
Salicylic acid belongs to the salicylate family, just like the aspirin you might find in your first aid kit.
Salicylates, also found in willow tree bark, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them useful ingredients for all skin types, but particularly those prone to conditions that create redness, irritation and inflammation – like acne and rosacea.
2. It gets deep down
While AHAs are our go-to for exfoliating the upper layers of the skin, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid can get deep down into pores thanks to their molecule size and affinity with our skin’s natural oils.
This means not only does salicylic acid exfoliate the dead cells on the skin’s surface, it can also lift away impurities and clear out clogged pores to keep congestion at bay.
3. Stops spots in their tracks
Salicylic acid works overtime on blemishes with four main actions. First, it exfoliates by increasing the moisture in our skin, dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds dead cells at the surface.
Next, it gets deep into the pore to clear out excess oil, helping to keep skin squeaky clean and free from the congestion that causes breakouts, blackheads, and bumpy texture.
As pores get a deep clean, any lurking bacteria is neutralised by the antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of salicylic acid. This helps to prevent future breakouts before they have a chance to develop.
Finally, salicylic acid’s anti-inflammatory action helps to calm and soothe, reducing the redness and swelling of brewing blemishes.
4. Go easy on sensitive skin
Despite its anti-inflammatory properties, some skin types can find high concentrations of salicylic acid drying or irritating. On the sensitive side? Try a skincare routine that includes BHAs in milder or wash-off formulas, and save stronger products for targeted use.
Our Soothe Paste Blemish Treatment is a leave-on formula that can be applied just where you need it most. This makes it ideal for both consistently acne-prone skin and those who suffer from the occasional hormonal or stress-related breakout.
It contains a powerful hit of salicylic acid in combination with soothing calamine powder and hydrating squalane, to minimise irritation and dryness. Dot over active breakouts, or blemishes you can feel brewing under the surface, and let it get to work overnight.
5. Don’t skip the SPF
We all know SPF should be a daily feature in our skincare routines, but it’s particularly important when using acids like BHAs. The exfoliating action of salicylic acid increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV light, so stick to evening use and make sure to protect your skin the following day.