Salicylic acid, the most used beta hydroxy acid has built a reputation for being one of the most effective skincare ingredients to help combat blemishes and acne. Found in over-the-counter formulas and often used in professional skin peels salicylic acid is available in different strengths. This is why it is important to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure salicylic acid is safe for you to use on your skin.
The potent BHA provides exfoliation to the skin by ridding the outer surface of a build-up of dead skin cells which if left to sit on the surface will lead to frequent spots, acne, blackheads, and other breakouts. By dissolving the glue that holds the dead skin cells revealing a bright, glowing, and healthy complexion. Salicylic acid can be found in higher concentrations and provides peeling agent properties making light work of any of these skin concerns.
- Acne scars
- Dark spots
- Sun spots
- Age spots
This should give you a better idea of how potent the acid can be so remember to proceed with caution if salicylic acid is a new addition to your daily skincare routine.
Unlike its cousins, AHAs, salicylic acid is oil soluble meaning it is penetrating further into the skin reaching the pores and unclogging them of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities. If you wanted to know more about the skincare benefits of salicylic acid there is a full dedicated blog post about it on The Beauty Insiders.
Now, let’s move on to answering, “does salicylic acid work?” if this is something you’ve thought to yourself, stick around as things will be a lot clearer by the end of today’s blog post.
How long does it take salicylic acid to work?
When using salicylic acid products consistently without any signs of irritation or severe dryness you’ll expect it to about 6-8 weeks to start to see a notable difference to any concerns, such as dull, lack lustre complexion, dry patches of skin, as well as other blemishes and breakouts.
One common occurrence that many find when using salicylic acid is that their skin can purge meaning breakouts and acne can temporarily become worse. This is perfectly normal as it is just the potent BHA making its way deep into the pores and clearing them of dirt, bacteria, and just general gunk that results in more spots and blackheads. Don’t give up, stick at it and you’ll find the skin has improved clarity and a healthy glow in no time.
If you find that after 8 weeks you have seen no improvement, especially if your main concerns have been to treat acne and spots, then you should stop using the product and seek the advice of a dermatologist to find a better alternative.
Can I use salicylic acid everyday?
Yes, you can use salicylic acid, in fact, you can apply it twice a day during your morning and evening skincare routine. Having said that, although it’s perfectly safe to use it every day doesn’t necessarily mean you have to. You are the one who understands you skin best of all so if you feel as though using salicylic acid everyday will cause more problems than try reducing how often you apply it to the skin. You can also help counteract any dryness that can occur by layering your salicylic acid product with one that is rich in hydrating skin ingredients such as, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and squalane.
No matter your skin type, when using the BHA applying a daily sunscreen, preferably with an SPF of 30 and above, as is vital to maintaining your skin’s health and keeping it fully protected from UV exposure.
Does salicylic acid make acne worse?
Not really, as I have already mentioned you may find your acne and breakouts appear to get worse after using salicylic acid for about 4 weeks. As frustrating as it is, this is a very common concern that happens to anyone applying the powerhouse ingredient to the face for the first time. You can even go as far as considering it is a sign of it acid working and after another 3-4 weeks you’ll see a marked improvement of the complexion, a reduction of breakouts and beautifully clear skin.
Does salicylic acid remove blackheads?
Yes, it certainly does! Unlike other chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid works further down into the skin. Once it has reached the pores it can unclog them of any build-up of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities that fill the pores and once surfaced will oxidised and turn black- hence the name blackhead.
Salicylic acid can clear the skin out from the inside out, with the pores unclogged the acid will also work at ridding the outer surface of the skin of dead skin cell build-up helping to reveal new, fresh skin cells underneath.
By using a product enriched in salicylic acid consistently you will keep the pores clear of any debris and bacteria preventing them from developing blackheads, whiteheads, and other spots whilst keeping pores clear and less visible to the naked eye.
Should I use salicylic acid in the morning or night?
You can use it in the morning and night! This is very much dependant on your skin type and whether your skin has built a tolerance to the potent ingredient. If you are new to using salicylic acid, then I would suggest introducing it slowly to avoid unwanted dryness and irritation.
Start by using it in the evenings when it’s enriched in a toner as this formula contains lower concentrate so is less irritating but still provides exfoliation to the skin. You can then work your way up to a product, such as a serum that contains a higher concentrate which should also be applied in the evening. As I have mentioned already, salicylic acid can increase the skin’s photosensitivity so always apply a daily SPF for full production from UV exposure.
There you have a little more about salicylic acid and hopefully we’ve addressed some concerns you have about whether it works. If you have any more skincare questions, or just fancy a skincare chat, come, and find us on Instagram.