They told us acne would disappear after our teens, but that hasn’t really happened, has it? Our face still resembles a war zone every day, and that is making us feel very self-conscious, especially when we have an interview or an important meeting with a client or our boss. The thought of our acne is always there, at the back of our minds, and is affecting our performance. Why can’t acne just disappear? Well, it can. With the right ally: salicylic acid.
What’s salicylic acid and why should you use it?
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from the bark of the willow tree. It is an exfoliant that works in two ways. One: it dissolves the “glue” that hold skin cells together, allowing them to easily slough off from the surface of the skin. Two: because it is oil-soluble, it can penetrate inside the pores, removing all the excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities that accumulate inside them.
This dual action allows it to keep the pores clean, clearing up and preventing breakouts. And it doesn’t work just with acne. Salicylic acid can keep blackheads, white-heads, and the occasional pimple at bay too.
How should you use it?
There are many products out there that contain salicylic acid, but not all of them are equally effective. Avoid cleansers and scrubs. Salicylic acid needs to stay on the skin for hours to do its job well. If you rinse it out after a couple of minutes it won’t do you (and your wallet) much good. So, opt for leave-in moisturizers and exfoliants.
Then, look at the label. Make sure salicylic acid is either listed separately as an active ingredient, or near the top of the list. If it’s listed towards the end, leave the product on the shelf. There just isn’t enough salicylic acid in it to benefit skin.
Once you’ve found the right product, apply it on the affected area. Frequency of use depends on how severe your acne is and how sensitive your skin is. If yours is oily, with mild to moderate acne, use it every day. Otherwise, try to use it on alternate days. Whatever works best for you.
Are there any side effects?
Concentrations of salicylic acid in OTC products are usually too low to cause dryness and irritation, unless your skin is super sensitive, you use it too often (just use it less frequently), or you allergic to it (discard it immediately). If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before using products with salicylic acid to avoid unwanted side effects both for you and your baby.
Now that you know what works against acne and blemishes, prepare to say bye bye to them forever!
Do you have acne? How do you deal with it? Have you tried salicylic acid yet?
By Giorgia Guazzarotti