How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

Salicylic acid is one of the most used beta hydroxy acids (BHA) and is derived from willow bark. Often favoured by those with an oily and blemish prone skin type, this chemical exfoliant works slightly differently to its alpha hydroxy acid cousins, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. The main differences being the fact that it is oil soluble, and its molecular size is very small meaning it can penetrate further down into the skin. Because of this it is able to unclog pores and remove any excess sebum, impurities, bacteria, and debris leaving you with clearer skin and combatting frequent breakouts.

That is just a refresher on what salicylic acid does for the skin, but if you are wanting to know more about its benefits, you can check out our dedicated blog post about the clever BHA on The Beauty Insiders.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the topic of today’s blog post and investigate further into how does salicylic acid work.

How long does it take for salicylic acid to work?

When introducing salicylic acid into your daily routine, you will find there are many different formulas to choose from. You are usually looking for it to take up to 8 weeks to see a marked improvement of the entire complexion and its clarity.

The formulation of product containing salicylic acid will also have an overall effect on how long it will take for you to see any improvements of any problem areas of the skin, such as spots and blackheads. For example, if you are opting for an exfoliating toner containing salicylic acid, you’ll find it is mild enough to use daily and take longer to deliver results, compared to a serum enriched in the BHA as these usually contain higher percentages of salicylic acid meaning they are a more potent formulation. They also generally remain on the skin surface for longer amount of time.

Is it bad to use salicylic acid every day?

Not really, but only if you are using milder formulations that are found over the counter as these have a lower percentage of the acid. If, however, you are using prescription only products, you may find your doctor recommends you use the product in moderation as overuse can lead to irritation, redness, severe dryness, and discomfort for the face. You will also find that the skin is stripped of vital oil, also known as sebum, that naturally occurring on the skin surface. This will trigger the skin to kick start an over production of sebum leading to all manner of problems, from imbalanced pH levels, oilier skin and flare-up in breakouts and acne.

If you ever have any concerns with using salicylic acid and the correct number of times to use it each day, consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you and your skin will remain happy with the results.

Does salicylic acid actually work?

Yes absolutely, if you are wanting to target mild acne, including blackheads and whiteheads, salicylic acid can deliver impressive skin results and give you all over better clarity. Not only is it able to combat existing breakouts but can also work at preventing any from developing. If you find your acne is a lot more severe however, salicylic acid may not be strong enough to treat the skin, instead I would suggest looking into trying more potent skincare ingredients such as retinol or benzoyl peroxide. As I have already said, these are two highly potent ingredients, and it is very important you consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you are safe to use either ingredient and always perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying it to the face. 

Why shouldn’t you use salicylic acid?

If you have a skin type that is very dry and prone to increased sensitivity, then you should avoid using salicylic acid completely. This is because of the molecular size of the BHA is one of the smallest of all varieties of chemical exfoliants meaning it reaches the furthest into the skin compared to lactic acid for example, that is only able to work in the outer layers. This means salicylic acid can become very drying and can become a recipe for disaster, especially if you have a dry skin type. If, however, you are prone to sensitivity and dryness, yet still wish to benefit from using chemical exfoliants your best option is to apply poly hydroxy acids (PHA) which are the gentlest acids to use in your daily routine. You can find out more about their benefits by checking out this blog post.

Does salicylic acid remove blackheads?

Yes, it does indeed! Blackheads are a result of a pore becoming blocked with excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, debris, and impurities. The reason they become black is due to the “gunk” making its way to the surface and oxidising with oxygen. Many often believing that physical scrubs are the best option as they feel the blackhead is removed from the outer surface. The fact is the root of the blackhead is found deep in the lower layers of the skin which is unable to be touched by scrubs or physical exfoliants. This is when salicylic acid steps in as it can penetrate right to the bottom of the pores and unclog them of any nasty build-up and sloughing away dead skin cells ridding the skin of blackheads.

Can I leave salicylic on overnight?

Yes, you can leave salicylic acid on the skin overnight, especially if it is formulated into a serum or moisturiser. Just ensure you are not applying a percentage strength that is higher than 2% as this can become too harsh for the skin and result in irritation, redness, and discomfort. Once the morning arrives simply rinse off any remaining traces of product and apply your normal routine, not forgetting of course to apply a daily SPF of 30 and above to keep the skin protected from UV exposure, even if it appears to be a cloudy day.

So, there you have a little more information about how salicylic acid works, don’t forget to come and follow us on Instagram, and if you have any more skincare questions, come and find me in the direct messages.

Salicylic acid is one of the most used beta hydroxy acids (BHA) and is derived from willow bark. Often favoured by those with an oily and blemish prone skin type, this chemical exfoliant works slightly differently to its alpha hydroxy acid cousins, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. The main differences being the fact that it is oil soluble, and its molecular size is very small meaning it can penetrate further down into the skin. Because of this it is able to unclog pores and remove any excess sebum, impurities, bacteria, and debris leaving you with clearer skin and combatting frequent breakouts.

That is just a refresher on what salicylic acid does for the skin, but if you are wanting to know more about its benefits, you can check out our dedicated blog post about the clever BHA on The Beauty Insiders.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the topic of today’s blog post and investigate further into how does salicylic acid work.

How long does it take for salicylic acid to work?

When introducing salicylic acid into your daily routine, you will find there are many different formulas to choose from. You are usually looking for it to take up to 8 weeks to see a marked improvement of the entire complexion and its clarity.

The formulation of product containing salicylic acid will also have an overall effect on how long it will take for you to see any improvements of any problem areas of the skin, such as spots and blackheads. For example, if you are opting for an exfoliating toner containing salicylic acid, you’ll find it is mild enough to use daily and take longer to deliver results, compared to a serum enriched in the BHA as these usually contain higher percentages of salicylic acid meaning they are a more potent formulation. They also generally remain on the skin surface for longer amount of time.

Is it bad to use salicylic acid every day?

Not really, but only if you are using milder formulations that are found over the counter as these have a lower percentage of the acid. If, however, you are using prescription only products, you may find your doctor recommends you use the product in moderation as overuse can lead to irritation, redness, severe dryness, and discomfort for the face. You will also find that the skin is stripped of vital oil, also known as sebum, that naturally occurring on the skin surface. This will trigger the skin to kick start an over production of sebum leading to all manner of problems, from imbalanced pH levels, oilier skin and flare-up in breakouts and acne.

If you ever have any concerns with using salicylic acid and the correct number of times to use it each day, consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you and your skin will remain happy with the results.

Does salicylic acid actually work?

Yes absolutely, if you are wanting to target mild acne, including blackheads and whiteheads, salicylic acid can deliver impressive skin results and give you all over better clarity. Not only is it able to combat existing breakouts but can also work at preventing any from developing. If you find your acne is a lot more severe however, salicylic acid may not be strong enough to treat the skin, instead I would suggest looking into trying more potent skincare ingredients such as retinol or benzoyl peroxide. As I have already said, these are two highly potent ingredients, and it is very important you consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you are safe to use either ingredient and always perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying it to the face.

Why shouldn’t you use salicylic acid?

If you have a skin type that is very dry and prone to increased sensitivity, then you should avoid using salicylic acid completely. This is because of the molecular size of the BHA is one of the smallest of all varieties of chemical exfoliants meaning it reaches the furthest into the skin compared to lactic acid for example, that is only able to work in the outer layers. This means salicylic acid can become very drying and can become a recipe for disaster, especially if you have a dry skin type. If, however, you are prone to sensitivity and dryness, yet still wish to benefit from using chemical exfoliants your best option is to apply poly hydroxy acids (PHA) which are the gentlest acids to use in your daily routine. You can find out more about their benefits by checking out this blog post.

Does salicylic acid remove blackheads?

Yes, it does indeed! Blackheads are a result of a pore becoming blocked with excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, debris, and impurities. The reason they become black is due to the “gunk” making its way to the surface and oxidising with oxygen. Many often believing that physical scrubs are the best option as they feel the blackhead is removed from the outer surface. The fact is the root of the blackhead is found deep in the lower layers of the skin which is unable to be touched by scrubs or physical exfoliants. This is when salicylic acid steps in as it can penetrate right to the bottom of the pores and unclog them of any nasty build-up and sloughing away dead skin cells ridding the skin of blackheads.

Can I leave salicylic on overnight?

Yes, you can leave salicylic acid on the skin overnight, especially if it is formulated into a serum or moisturiser. Just ensure you are not applying a percentage strength that is higher than 2% as this can become too harsh for the skin and result in irritation, redness, and discomfort. Once the morning arrives simply rinse off any remaining traces of product and apply your normal routine, not forgetting of course to apply a daily SPF of 30 and above to keep the skin protected from UV exposure, even if it appears to be a cloudy day.

So, there you have a little more information about how salicylic acid works, don’t forget to come and follow us on Instagram, and if you have any more skincare questions, come and find me in the direct messages.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Popular picks

Best Seller
Midnight Rescue Elixir
Midnight Rescue Elixir
£19.99
109 Verified Reviews
Best Seller
Salicylic Egg Cleanser
Salicylic Egg Cleanser
£8.99
246 Verified Reviews
Best Seller
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1388/8245/files/deodorant-preview2.mp4?v=1596551709
100% Natural Deodorant
100% Natural Deodorant
from £7.99
2493 Verified Reviews
Glycolic Glow Toner
Glycolic Glow Toner
£14.99
46 Verified Reviews