If you’ve ever struggled with acne – whether occasional or chronic – chances are you’ve used or perused a product containing salicylic acid. So, just what is this skincare ingredient boasting breakout-banishing properties?
We’ve got the 4-1-1 on this commonly-used complexion booster, including why it works, who it works for, and when to use caution:
It’s a “multitasker.”
Salicylic acid is no one-trick pony, as it acts as both a comedolytic and keratolytic agent. In layman’s terms? It not only loosens up congested skin cells to neutralize bacteria within the pores – sending blackheads and whiteheads packing – but it also acts as a powerful exfoliator that helps skin shed dead debris more easily to prevent future breakouts.
It’s best teamed with other exfoliators.
For acne-prone skin, whether oily or dry, the benefit of combining salicylic acid with other exfoliators, such as Glycolic, Lactic and other Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), is that it provides a stronger keratolytic effect often necessary for chronic acne conditions or very oily, “resistant” skin. When these powerful acids team up, it doubles their demolition capability toward pore-clogging intracellular cement. Control’s Acne Spot Treatment, a must-have blemish fighter that sizzles “spots” on contact, contains the dynamic duo of salicylic and glycolic acids, while Control’s Acne Treatment Cream, a medicated moisturizer that maintains hydration, combines 3% salicylic with lactic acid to reduce breakouts and scars.
It’s safe for most every skin type, but not all conditions.
Products containing salicylic acid can be of benefit to all skin types, aside from those that are highly sensitive. However, since it contains the same anti-inflammatory ingredients as aspirin, those allergic to aspirin should steer clear, as well as pregnant women, nursing mothers, those using Accutane and Retin-A, and anyone going through treatment for autoimmune disorders or chemo/radiation. Anyone with sunburned skin should also refrain.
It’s best to start out slow.
Before you opt for the professional salicylic acid peel, start first with a gentle creamy cleanser, like Control’s Salicylic Wash 2%, which deep cleans without over-drying skin. Salicylic acid can sometimes cause mild stinging or irritation, so your new regimen should begin with use every other day the first week, daily the second week, and twice daily thereafter, if needed.