Salicylic acid is known for its potency, you’ll often find in formulated into an array of different products. These can often vary in strength and used to help treat persistent acne flare ups, as well as removing corns, calluses, and warts. This is because it’s a keratolytic, also known as peeling agent and will work on the outer surface of the skin. Unlike other acids, such as the popular AHAs, glycolic and lactic, you’ll also find its oil soluble meaning it can work further down into the lower layers of the skin.
Due to its highly effective abilities to penetrate the pores it can become severely drying to the skin and result in some skin side effects from dry patches of skin, redness, peeling, and overall dryness and discomfort. Therefore, you’ll often find skincare experts and dermatologists; recommend you introduce the potent BHA into your daily skincare routine slowly to begin with. To find out more about salicylic acid how it works on the skin, you can check out our dedicated blog post about “What is salicylic acid?” over on The Beauty Insiders.
How long to leave salicylic acid on face?
The formulation of the product will determine how long you leave salicylic acid on your face. As I have already mentioned, if you are new to using the potent BHA, the best product to start with is a cleanser or face wash. This is because it’s the product that remains on the skin for the least amount of time, you simply work it into a lather and rinse it off resulting in salicylic acid remaining on the skin between 1-3 minutes. You’ll also find the percentage of salicylic acid is lower compared to that found in serums, face oils, or moisturisers. With these products you can expect to have the acid remain on your skin for longer periods of time and even overnight.
If you have built the tolerance of your skin and are happy with the results you’re seeing on your face, you can then opt for a serum. Serums are generally considered the most potent option as they work deeper in the skin compared to a moisturiser that tend to remain on the surface. There are face masks and treatments containing the acid that can often contain the highest percentage of BHA and should not be used by anyone suffering from dryness or have a skin type prone to skin conditions such as eczema. Salicylic acid is too potent and will cause a flare-up in unwanted skin reactions. To avoid this, always ensure you check the instructions and use the product correctly and if you have any concerns, consult with your doctor or medical professional.
How long should I leave salicylic acid cleanser on my face?
This can vary depending on how much time you take to cleanse your skin. For many, the 60 second rule has proven to be the most effective. If you’re new to this rule, it’s a simple method that requires you to work the product into the skin for 60 seconds, doing it for this length of time is considered best to deliver optimal results ensuring it works its way into the pores, clearing it of sebum build up, ridding the skin of dirt and bacteria whilst beginning to dissolve the bonds hold dead skin cells onto the surface of the skin. Once these bonds are loosened you can then use an exfoliating toner to slough away any remaining traces of cells revealing a layer of glowing, radiant, fresh skin underneath.
If you ever have any worries about how your skin will react to a product you use on your skin, you can perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying all over the face. This will avoid unwanted irritation or reactions to the skin and give you a better idea of which product formula to use in your routine.
Can I leave salicylic acid overnight?
Yes, you can, but only once you have built the skin’s tolerance. For those with a skin type that is oily and prone to acne and breakouts, salicylic acid is the best ingredient to use to combat any concerns. It is also thought best to use salicylic acid in your evening routine as the deep exfoliation can increase the skin’s sensitivity to exposure to UV rays so you will need to apply a daily SPF of 30 and above. If you are wanting to know more about using salicylic acid overnight, there is a fully dedicated blog post that explains everything in a lot more detail.
Should I moisturise after salicylic acid?
Yes, it’s considered best for your skin and the protective skin barrier to apply a moisturiser after using salicylic acid. To get the best results team it with a moisturiser that is packed with hyaluronic acid, or other hydrating ingredients as this will help lock moisture into the skin ensuring the protective skin barrier is fully functioning and able to protect itself from exposure to free radical damage, such as pollution, UV rays, central heating, and harsh climates. You’ll also find that moisturisers have a thicker consistency and will also form a physical barrier on the surface of the skin which will prevent any environmental aggressors interfere with any active ingredients found in your other products.
How quickly does salicylic acid work?
You’ll find it takes on average, about 6-8 weeks to start noticing a marked improvement of the look and feel of the skin. If you are using salicylic acid as a spot treatment or method of clearing up acne and breakouts, you may find your skin will look a little worse before it gets better. This is just a sign of the BHA doing a thorough job of clearing out the pores of any build in “gunk” found in the pores that tend to develop into various blemishes, such as blackheads, whiteheads, and other spots. You’ll find that your skin will clear up after consistently using the salicylic acid product after 4 weeks.
So, there you have a little more information about how long to leave salicylic acid on your face. As I have already suggested if you have any concerns consult with your GP or come and follow us on Instagram, you can find me in the direct messages.