It’s time to meet your new BFF – their name is salicylic acid. Despite its ominous-sounding name, salicylic acid products for acne are incredibly popular. If you’ve ever walked down a skincare aisle or inconspicuously took a look at your friends’ medicine cabinet for, uh, research purposes, then you’ve surely spotted it in the wild. If there was ever an opportunity to make room in your squad for one more – it’d be for salicylic acid, a key ingredient to fighting acne and blackheads.
What is salicylic acid?
Quick science lesson – salicylic acid is a natural molecule from the bark of willow trees that scientists discovered as an effective, active ingredient for skincare concerns. Most importantly, salicylic acid is good for acne. Having been used for more than two centuries, it’s part of a class of acids called beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), an oil-soluble acid that encourages dead skin cells to fall off so new skin cells can generate to take their place. Needless to say, salicylic acid is someone you’ll want to keep on speed dial when you’re looking for advice to swipe left on acne.
Who should use Salicylic Acid?
Salicylic acid is a great go-to for those who have oily or acne-prone skin. Those with dry or sensitive skin may find salicylic acid to be too harsh, so be sure to patch test new products with salicylic acid before committing. Everyone has their own complicated relationship to their skin and acne – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach or solution. Like any skincare product, using salicylic acid for acne treatment should be done in moderation. Start using a salicylic acid acne wash once every three days – preferably in the evening, as you don’t want to expose your freshly-exfoliated skin to direct sun. Gradually work up to once a day if you find your skin vibing with salicylic acid products.
How does salicylic acid help with acne?
Back to that science lesson: since salicylic acid is a BHA (oil-soluble) and not an AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids, which are water-soluble), it can cleanse deeper by dissolving the impurities that are clogging your pores. A salicylic acid face wash for acne does a lot of skincare heavy-lifting: exfoliates dead skin, cleans clogged pores, removes oil, prevents whiteheads and blackheads, and helps clear existing breakouts. Once you find a good salicylic acid cleanser for acne, like our St. Ives Acne Control Cleanser, which is made with 100% natural tea tree extract and max strength, zit-zapping 2% salicylic acid – you’ll want to make room in your life for it.
What if I have a pimple NOW?
If you feel an uninvited guest coming to take real estate on your face, you can try to stop it in its tracks with a salicylic acid acne spot treatment like St. Ives Acne Control Spot Treatment. Made with 100% natural tea tree extract, it’s a 2% salicylic acid cream for acne that’s clinically-proven to reduce pimple size, redness and swelling. Plus, you’ll feel it work instantaneously, thanks to its cooling menthol – and even better – it’s alcohol-free (no over-drying) and designed for all skin types.
If you’re specifically looking to target acne, you’ll want to look out for products that contain salicylic acid, retinols, benzoyl peroxide, AHAs, neem extract, tea tree oil or licorice extract – talk about friends with actual benefits!