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SALICYLIC ACID SKINCARE FAQS
Treat breakouts, reduce redness, and prevent future blemishes with our collection of skin-saving salicylic acid products.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that is commonly used in over-the-counter (OTC) skincare and cosmetic products (prescription strength formulas are also available but must be prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider).
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent—a class of compounds that are used specifically to soften and break down the outer layers of skin. As a BHA, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, which allows it to more easily penetrate into the pores of the skin.
It is also naturally occurring and is found in several plants. The World Health Organization lists salicylic acid as part of its List of Essential Medicine.
When used topically, salicylic acid can help your skin in a few main ways.
It can penetrate hair and help dissolve dead skin cells, and other debris that can clog pores.
It can help loosen old, dead skin cells on the skins surface, which can be sloughed off/exfoliated to reveal fresh new skin, which can appear smoother and more even-toned.
It can help clear and prevent blemishes and prevent the development of new blemishes.
When your hair follicles and glands get clogged with dead skin cells, blackheads, whiteheads, and/or pimples may appear.
By penetrating skin and working to dissolve the debris, salicylic acid helps unclog your hair follicles and glands. Through exfoliation, salicylic acid can then help loosen the old, dead skin cells and dissolved debris on the skins surface to reveal fresh new skin. Finally, salicylic acid can help clear up acne blemishes and allow skin to heal.
Salicylic acid is considered safe for most skin types. If you have more sensitive skin, you may see some irritation when first using salicylic acid. It may remove too much oil from your skin resulting in dryness, potential irritation, and skin tingling. Moisturizers can help alleviate any resulting dryness. Remember to follow the instructions that come with the salicylic acid product and the recommendations of your healthcare provider.