Salicylic acid is one of the most effective active ingredients to clear and exfoliate the skin. This ingredient is commonly found in treatments made for acne-prone and oil skin types, helping to target breakouts, exfoliate at a deep level and remove excess sebum.
Harvested from willow tree bark, it is a chemical exfoliant that is often found in cleansers as well as serums, peels, masks, toners, and other treatments. For breakouts, mild acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and those with oily skin, salicylic acid is the best ingredient to target skin concerns and also prevent further issues.
WHAT IS IT?
When your pores are blocked when dead skin cells and excess oil, blackheads, whiteheads and spots are more likely to make an appearance. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Unlike exfoliants containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are water-soluble and good for surface exfoliation, BHAs are oil-soluble. These acids can cut through oil, exfoliating deeply into the pores to clear our blockages.
"Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid," explains cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller in a feature on Allure. "[This] means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, as opposed to an alpha-hydroxy acid where they're separated by one carbon atom."
WANT TO KNOW A LITTLE MORE SCIENCE BEHIND IT?
Talking to Allure, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D says, "Generally, oil-soluble ingredients penetrate through the lipid layers between the skin cells more readily."
BHAs are chemical exfoliants, exfoliating gently but effectively. Rather than scrubbing away to clear pores, they go deep into your pores, making dead skin cells easy to remove. While it is especially good for oily and problem skin, this ingredient can be used on other skin types.
HOW DOES IT HELP YOUR SKIN?
The primary benefit of salicylic acid for the skin is to target spots and breakouts. In a Byrdie article on this BHA, NYC dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, explains how the ingredient cleans out your pores. "It works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin and dissolving the substance that causes the skin cells to stick together. This makes it easier to shed the skin cells.”
It has natural anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. It brightens and smoothes the skin, improves the skin texture and encourages the regeneration of new skin cells. It reduces the size and appearance of pores, further helping to improve overall skin tone.
WHERE IT’S FOUND: This ingredient is extracted from willow tree bark. It is also found in strawberries, cauliflower and grapes.
BENEFITS: Its key benefit is to unclog blocked pores, making it ideal for treating acne and reducing breakouts. It breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells, clearing pores, breaking down oils and reducing sebum production.
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