What Does Salicylic Acid Do To Acne?

Acne seems to be one of those issues that never seems to go away, no matter what age you are. Whether you're going through puberty, pregnancy or even a stressful event, acne will quickly follow. Given the various types of acne, there are a variety of approaches and ingredients that can be used to reduce the look of acne. If you scan any drugstore aisle, you;ll more than likely find salicylic acid as one of the top ingredients in acne products.

What is it about this product that makes it so effective and how should you be using salicylic acid as part of your skin care regime?

The Science Behind Salicylic Acid

For starters, the word acid is a dead giveaway to the chemical composition of salicylic acid. This acid naturally derives from willow bark and then is refined to be used topically. Typically when we think of acids, we think of a harsh substance burning anything it comes in contact with. When broken apart, salicylic acid is considered a beta hydroxy acid (a powerful acne fighter). The structure of this compound differs from alpha hydroxy acid in the fact that is contains two carbon atoms rather than one. This slight difference makes salicylic acid more easily oil soluble to enter pores of the skin. Once it enters the dermal layers of skin, it can work to dissolve bacterial bonds found in acne.

When looking closer, this loosening mechanism breaks apart acne causing comedones that can lead to the formation of acne. Given that this particular acid is lipophillic which means it doesn't bound with water easily. This property allows it to attract oil like a magnet to remove it. This in turn reduces the amount of sebum produced by pores deep within skin.

Key Benefits
  • Unclogs pores
  • Reduces oil production
  • Acts as an inflammatory
  • Dissolves whiteheads and blakcheads
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Minimizes the appearance of pores

Best Usage Of Salicylic Acid

Bear in mind, that when used too often salicylic acid can dry out skin. It is best to avoid if you have dry or sensitive skin (as it can irritate this skintype). It is best to use it on small areas, especially if the concentration is high. Apply a thin layer onto problem areas and rinse with warm water for best results. Depending on skin type, salicylic acid should be used 2-3 times per week at least once per day. If you find your skin is becoming too dry, reduce usage and add a gel based moisturizer to follow after use.


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