Acids in skincare. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Will they burn off our skin? Are they toxic? Are they the miracle ingredient that will clear up our skin once and for all?
As it turns out, with improvements in technology and formulations, skincare brands have found better ways to harness the full benefits of acids – so that they make our skincare more effective. Yup – you heard that right, acids are great for our skin, but only if you know how to use them right.
There is a plethora of skincare acids out in the market. Lactic acid, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid… we’re not gonna lie, things can get quite confusing. So, we’ve decided to create a weekly guide to help you understand what these various acids do, and whether or not they are suitable for your skin needs.
This week, we’ll be tackling salicylic acid. Read on to find out all you need to know about it.
What is Salicylic Acid?
Also known as a beta hydroxyl acid (BHA), salicylic acid is perhaps the one skincare ingredient that dermatologists, cosmetologists and aestheticians will recommend should you require help in the acne/blemish department. Due to its larger molecular size (than other acids), salicylic acid is a gentle acid that’s not going to cause irritation or inflame your skin. It’s a commonly used acid in skincare, and is a safe and stable compound. So you don’t have to worry about it reacting with any of your other skincare products!
What does it do for our skin?
If you’re struggling with any kind of skincare congestion – be it acne, blackheads, whiteheads – salicylic acid in skincare is a life-saver. Its unique ability to “unglue” and dissolve skin debris from pores is what helps rid your skin of incessant blemishes. And because its oil and water-soluble, the acid is able to cut right through layers of sebum to cleanse and purify pores.
What’s even better about salicylic acid is that it helps prevent blemishes from even forming in the first place by keeping pores clean. For an all-over-the-face salicylic acid treatment, be sure to use one of low dosage to prevent it from drying out the skin.
Another benefit of salicylic acid: it helps in controlling sebum production. Constant use of skincare with the acid in it will help slow the pace of which your skin produces oil, which is what makes it especially useful for people with oily skin.
Things to take note of when using salicylic acid
Salicylic acid has the tendency to dry skin out when overused. As a rule of thumb, keep to only one skincare product with salicylic acid in your daily regime. Should you already be using it in your cleanser, it’s best to invest in a toner that doesn’t have the acid in it.
Also, since the acid works to heal your skin on a molecular level – give your product some time to work its magic. While there are products (such as moisturisers, physical exfoliators) that allow you to see instant results, skincare with salicylic products will not. It takes 8-12 weeks before results show, so be patient and rigourous with your regime.
Some of our favourite products with salicylic acid: