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How does salicylic acid work?
Salicylic acid is a beta hydrocxy acid which bascically means it is lipophilic. But what is lipophilic? Lipophilic basically means that it loves oil and helps remove it from the pore. which mean sit concentrates in oil glands. while alpha hydroxyl acids are water soluble (glycolic acid). Salicylic acid is going to be more effective for oily skin. It also works as an exfolliant. Not as well as alpha hydroxyl acids, but it still exfoliates the top layer of the skin as well as remove oil and debris from clogged up pores.
Salicylic acid is also anti-inflammatory which means it helps calm down red irritated skin typically caused by acne.
Since it is an exfoliate, it thins the top layer of the skin which can make your skin more sensitive to other products that you may use. Using salicylic acid also increases sensitivity to sunlight and UV exposure, so always use sunscreen.
How to use salicylic acid
You can use salicylic acid in a face wash, leave on product and even a moisturizer. As such, there are multiple ways ways you can use salicylic acid in your skin care routine depending on your needs.
Using salicylic acid in a face wash/cleanser is probably going to be the best way to start off using this ingredient because it will decrease the chances of irriration. Simply put, the longer an active ingredeint (salicylic acid) stays in contact with your skin the greater the chance of irritation. Another plus to using it as a face wash is that it’s still quite effective in reducing oil as well as helping to fight acne.
Apply the cleanser to wet skin and let is sit for 30 seconds to a minute and then rinse off. Follow up with a sunscreen during the day and a moisturizer at night.
Start off using the cleanser once a day preferably at night after removing sunscreen and cleansing your face. It’s a mistake to use salicylic acid cleansers to take off sunscreen or to wash your face because saliyclic acid mixed with sunscreen and dirt can cause irritation. So always wash your face and remove anything on it before using salicylic acid.
If you do use a salicylic acid wash in the morning, then follow it up with a sunscreen because salicylic acid is an exfoliant which thins the top layer of skin which can lead to more sun exposure.
Recommended Salicylic Acid Face Washes
Leave on products
There are typically gels/creams with 2% salicylic acid that are meant for spot treatment. So if you have relatively clear skin but maybe there is a pimple on your forehead or cheek, then thees products can work well for you. This is also a good option if you have relatively sensitive skin and only have 1 or 2 pimples because you can target the acne spots without irrirating the rest of your skin.
You can also use these leave on salicylic acid products to target specific issue such as blackheads and whiteheads on the nose. Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a popular choice since it is gentle enough to use daily and helps unclog pores and clear up acne.
Salicylic acid moisturizers
Saliyclic acid moisturizers are great if you find that salicylic acid doesn’t irrirate your skin and if you want quicker results with acne control. These moisturizers typically have a lower concentration of salicyic acid (0.5%) than face washes, but that is a good thing. Unlike washes which are meant to be washed off with a lower contact time with your skin, moisturziers can sit on your skin for hours on end. So you want a lower concentration to lower the risk of irriration. lightweight feel to prevent your skin from feeling oily. The only downside to using a salicylic acid moisturizer is that you will need to apply sunscreen on top of the moisturuzer if you use this product during the day. Some suncreens can feel oily and heavy so it’s best to go for a light weight mineral based sunscreen which can help maintain
Using salicylic acid in a wash form is a great way to maximize its benefits and reduce any chances of irritation. You don’t need a long contact time for salicylic acid to be effective, as such using it as a face wash is sufficient in order to derive its benefits. Since it is lipophilic it can concentrate in the oil glands quite rapidly. Salicylic acid in a leave on product can lead to irritation. Skin around the eyes and the neck is quite thin so its not recommended to use salicylic acid washes in these areas as it can irrirate the skin. Also the skin on the neck doesn’t have many oil glands and most people also don’t experience acne on the neck, so there is no need to use it in this area.
Salicylic acid can be an incredibly effective ingredient to use in your skincare routine. Depending on your needs, you can use salicylic acid it in a face wash, spot treatment or even in a moisturizer. Hopefully this guide was helpful in explaining how best to incorporate salicylic acid in your skin care routine to get great results.