Salicylic acid benefits for the skin are well known among dermatologists, and for good reasons.
Perfect for oily skin, salicylic acid is best known for its antibacterial properties and its ability to deeply exfoliate the skin to unclog pores, which makes it a valuable ingredient for anyone dealing with oily skin, breakouts, or acne.
But salicylic acid carries a lot of benefits for all the other skin types, and used in combination with other ingredients such as glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and more can be a powerful addition to your anti-aging skincare routine.
Keep reading to learn all about this superstar ingredient, and find out the best products with salicylic acid to incorporate in your skincare routine for glowing, healthy skin.
What is Salicylic Acid?
When it comes to skin-care products, there are two classes of acids you’ll see often: beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs).
Salicylic acid is a type of BHA that belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates and it’s the only BHA used in skincare products. It naturally occurs in willow bark, sweet birch bark, and wintergreen leaves, but synthetic versions are also used in skincare products.
While AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid are water-soluble and work well on the skin’s surface, BHAs are oil-soluble and can penetrate the skin at a deeper level than their water-soluble counterparts.
Simply put, both salicylic acid and AHAs are chemical exfoliants that promote faster cell turnover and cell regeneration. However, the way they exfoliate your skin is different.
How Salicylic Acid Works on Your Skin
Salicylic acid can get underneath and around the oil that sits in your skin’s outer layer to exfoliate dead skin deep within your pores. By doing so, salicylic acid can actually break down the connections between skin cells. Because weakened bonds allow dead skin cells to shed easily, the result is fresh, glowing, and soft new skin.
But this is just the beginning!
Once it penetrates the skin, salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory to help red inflamed pimples, blackheads and whiteheads go away faster, making it an ideal ingredient to fight acne and also rosacea-related redness.
Finally, exfoliation from salicylic acid reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and strengthens the skin’s ability to retain hydration too.
Top 5 Salicylic Acid Benefits for the Skin
The top 5 salicylic acid skin benefits are:
- Fights excess oil from pores
- Exfoliates dead skin cells
- Reduces acne bacteria and prevents future acne
- Soothes inflammation
1. Great for Oily Skin
If you are managing oily skin, salicylic acid is a key ingredient to clean up excess oil immediately and keep oil levels under control over time. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, meaning it can actually get underneath excess oil and dead skin deep inside your pores compared to other ingredients that only stay on the surface.
Finally, according to studies, not only does salicylic acid give a good deep cleaning, but can also suppress sebocytes (cells that produce your skin’s sebum) from producing excess oil.
Remember: knowing your skin type is the first step towards choosing the right skincare products and implementing a skincare regimen that is effective for your skin.
Hence, Dr Nina always recommends coming for an initial consultation before starting a new skincare routine.
2. Exfoliates Dead Skin Cells
Salicylic acid penetrates the surface of the skin and dissolves the ‘glue’ that holds cells together, exfoliating dead skin cells and accelerating skin cell renewal. This
This process helps to visibly improve the texture of the skin, reduce the signs of aging and increase skin cell turnover, reducing blemishes and unclogging pores, which in turn reduces the appearance of blackheads and prevents breakouts.
Salicylic acid is also an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it helps to calm the redness and swelling of existing blemishes as well as preventing new ones from developing.
3. Reduces Acne Bacteria and Prevents Future Acne
Acne bacteria thrive under clogged pores because they do not like oxygen. Since salicylic acid unclogs and exfoliates pores, creating a more oxygen-rich environment, it can weaken acne bacteria, though it won’t completely kill it.
Using salicylic acid regularly will keep your pores clean, so whiteheads and blackheads won’t develop from excess oil or dead skin cells nesting in your skin.
However, if you’re struggling with moderate to severe acne, Dr Nina can help to devise a bespoke skincare plan that will work for your skin.
4. Soothes Inflammation
Salicylic acid is naturally found in willow bark and contains a chemical called salicin, which is actually related to aspirin.
Salicin has anti-inflammatory properties that can calm irritated, inflamed skin, reducing redness and soreness. This is why salicylic acid is also a widely used topical therapy for both rosacea and psoriasis inflammation.
Due to its exfoliation properties, salicylic acid reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Over time, the thickness of the layer of dead skin cells becomes thinner, giving the complexion a brighter, more glowing appearance.
Salicylic Acid Side Effects
When salicylic acid is applied to the skin, tingling and slight burning are totally normal and will usually go away in a few minutes.
Other minor side effects of products containing salicylic acid include stinging, itching, mild dryness, peeling, and flaking of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you should use products with salicylic acid with caution.
Salicylic acid can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. For this reason, always remember to use a moisturiser or cream containing SPF 30 or more in conjunction with any product containing salicylic acid.
Best Salicylic Acid Skincare Products
Salicylic acid is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in OTC drug products, in concentrations of up to 2%.
Cleansers and face masks often include this ingredient, but you can also buy it in more concentrated forms. One of the most effective ways to take advantage of all salicylic acid benefits for the skin is to use a serum containing a certain concentration of salicylic acid, based on your skin’s needs.
Why a face serum, you might ask?
Serums are water or gel-based skincare products designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin.
If there is one skincare product you should incorporate immediately into your skincare regimen, it is face serum!
Thanks to their highly-concentrated formulas, face serums have the unique ability to penetrate deeply into the cellular level of the skin and deliver the active ingredients where they are needed the most. This is why they typically produce visible results in a shorter period of time compared to regular face creams and moisturisers.
Best Salicylic Acid Anti-Aging Serum
The combination and the quality of the ingredients make all the difference when it comes to choosing the best glowing skin products, and Dr Nina knows this well.
She recently launched her first skincare product, the Face Sculpt Serum, which already won the award as Best Refining Serum at the Woman and Beauty Awards 2021.
Dr Nina’s new Face Sculpt Serum is your to-go product to fight expression lines, improve skin hydration and cell renewal, with rapidly visible effects.
And guess what? It does contain salicylic acid of course! Here’s a list of ingredients and their benefits.
- ARABIAN COTTON 1%: Broad-spectrum protection against photo-aging.
- CROSSLINKED 2% HYALURONIC ACID: Provides gradual hydration and improves the protective barrier effect of the skin.
- EXO-P 2%: Makes a barrier or shield effect, preventing the penetration of pollutant particles.
- GLYCOLIC ACID 0.7%: It penetrates the skin easily to soften and gently exfoliate, whilst also hydrating.
- LOW MOLECULAR WEIGHT HYALURONIC ACID 0.1%: Provides water to the deeper layers of the skin and improving wrinkles.
- MATRIXYL® 2%: Stimulates the production of collagen for a long-term anti-wrinkle effect.
- NIACINAMIDE 1%: Balances skin tone and improves the look of hyperpigmentation.
- REDENSIN® 2.5%: Helps plump wrinkles from the inside.
- SALICYLIC ACID 0.1%: Softens and gently exfoliates the skin. It also has an antibacterial and antiseptic action.
- TURMERIA ZEN 1%: Helps to support wound healing and improves the look of small scars and wrinkles.
How to Use
2 pumps to be applied to face, neck and décolletage in an upwards motion. Massage until completely absorbed. It can be used in the AM and/or PM.
Since ingredients are so powerful, there are a few points to be careful about when using the Face Sculpt Serum.
- Do not use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant unless authorised by your doctor.
- Do not use it if you have an allergy to aspirin or derivatives.
- Due to the presence of AHAs and BHAs, there is an exfoliating action in the skin and therefore we recommend the use of SPF after this product to minimise the risk of sun damage and sunburn.
- Avoid contact with eyes, eyelids and mucous membranes.
- Once opened, use within 12 months.
Salicylic Acid Benefits for Skin: Conclusions
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that is commonly used in skincare products to gently exfoliates and soften the skin. It can help visibly improve the texture of the skin, reduce the signs of aging and increase skin cell turnover. It also has antibacterial and antiseptic action, hence keeping acne and blemishes at bay.
Salicylic acid for anti-aging purposes works best when applied in the form of a serum, which is able to penetrate the deeper layer of the skin to deliver the active ingredients at a cellular level.
Ready to start introducing salicylic acid into your skincare routine? Then Dr Nina’s new Face Sculpt Serum is the perfect product for you to start experiencing all the salicylic acid benefits for the skin!