Is Salicylic Acid Good for Spots?

Is Salicylic Acid Good for Spots?

If you have a skin type that is oily and prone to blemishes, chances are you’ve heard of the popular skincare ingredient salicylic acid. Known for its ability to work deeply in the pores and help unclog them of any build-up of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities.

As a member of the family of chemical exfoliants known as Beta Hydroxy Acids, salicylic acid is also able to work on the outer surface of the skin and slough away the build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. Something that will often occur is all these impurities will develop into a few concerns, from blemishes, acne, flaky patches of skin, and a dull, lack lustre complexion. If you are wanting to know a little more about how salicylic acid works on the skin and how it benefits the overall look and feel of the complexion, you can check out the dedicated blog post about “What is Salicylic Acid?”

Now, let’s turn our attention to answering the question in today’s blog post, is salicylic acid good for spots? So, let’s dive in and find out more!

Can salicylic acid cause more acne?

In a word, yes, salicylic acid could be causing more acne, but there are several contributing factors that can contribute to this. Here are some examples of the potential causes for an increase in the acne flare-up you’re suffering from.

  • You’re using the wrong concentrate

Focusing on the concentrate of the BHA in the formulation is important to take into consideration before introducing the acid into your routine. To get a better understanding of how potent your product is, is to look at the ingredients list, if salicylic acid features in the first five listed active ingredients shows there is an effective level. This means the BHA will help combat the concerns with acne and breakouts. If you find you’re using a product enriched in salicylic acid and find it to not have any impact on the skin, you may need to switch to another more potent formula.

  • You’re not using it enough

With salicylic acid often requires you to introduce it slowly into your routine to begin with. Once your skin has built a tolerance towards the acid, you’ll be able to use it more frequently leaving your skin clarity improved and protected skin barrier fully protected and functioning to the best of its ability.

  • It’s the wrong ingredient for you

If you find your concerns with breakouts and acne are not improved after using a salicylic acid enriched product for over 4 weeks, this could be a sign it’s the wrong ingredient for you. You may need to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to find another ingredient or product to combat the problem without causing any unwanted reactions.

  • It could be a sign it’s working

Believe it or not, your acne may get worse before it gets better. You’ll often find acne appears to worsen once you have started using salicylic acid in your daily skincare routine. As disheartening as it may feel, this is a sign that the potent BHA is working deep in the pores and unclogging them of excess sebum, bacteria, dirt, and debris. Pushing all this “gunk” to the surface of the skin will result in a flare-up in acne and spots as a short-term problem but will slowly begin to clear-up with consistent use after 4 weeks. 

How long does it take for salicylic acid to work on spots?

As you can see, I have briefly answered this in the previous section, it will usually take about 4 weeks for you to see noticeable difference in the complexion and reduction in active spots and acne flare-ups. You may find that you see results quicker, or sometimes a little longer depending how severe the breakouts are and will require the product to be used about 6 to 8 weeks to see a marked improvement.

If you find there is no visible improvement during that time, this may be a sign you should consult with a doctor to find alternative ingredients or products to use. I would also suggest you perform a patch test for a new product for 24 hours before applying it to the face to avoid any reactions. 

Which acid is best for spots?

Salicylic acid is generally considered by dermatologists and skincare experts alike to be the best acid to use for spots and acne. There are more potent ingredients available, such as benzoyl peroxide that are highly effective at combating acne. However, salicylic acid is preferred by many and found in various formulations that are simple and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

With salicylic acid found in over the counter products, such as toners, cleansers, and serums often with concentrates of 0.5 to 2%. For higher concentrates there is the option of having a chemical peel or professional facial will include a medical grade percentage of the acid. Starting with a chemical peel or facial is thought to be the best starting point to gaining skin clarity.

Can I use salicylic acid every day?

Yes, it’s considered safe for you to use salicylic acid every day once your skin has built its tolerance to the powerhouse acid. To do this it’s best to start by only using the product containing salicylic acid 2-3 times a week, preferably in the evenings as it’s known for increasing photosensitivity of the skin increasing the risk of sun damage to the face. To avoid this, you should apply a daily SPF for added skin protection. If you find your skin remains comfortable after using salicylic acid 2-3 times a week, you can then start using it daily. For more information about using salicylic acid every day, check out our dedicated blog post.

Is salicylic acid good for acne scars?

Yes, it is, due to the exfoliating properties of the acid you’ll find that the pigmentation of remaining acne scarring begins to reduce and become less noticeable to the naked eye. If you find your acne scarring and dark spots are something you are wanting to get rid of quickly and effectively, the best idea is to consult with a professional who will be able to perform a series of chemical peels and facials to help.

There you have a little more detail about salicylic acid and whether it’s good for spots. As I have mentioned already, check with a doctor before trying any new formulas on the skin to avoid negative reactions. Don’t forget, if you have any more questions, come, and follow us on Instagram.  


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