What Can You Not Mix with Salicylic Acid?

What Can You Not Mix with Salicylic Acid?

In today’s blog post we are going to share with you how to layer your skincare ingredients and what results you can expect to see once you have established an all-round, effective skincare routine.

The main ingredient we will be focusing on today is the popular and potent Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) called salicylic acid. So, if you are wanting to find out more about which ingredients can be mixed with it and which can’t then stick around as things will become a lot clearer.

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is one of the most used Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) which is an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant. It’s derived from willow bark and has gained reputation as an effective and highly potent anti-blemish skincare ingredient. You’ll find that unlike Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) it is able to penetrate further down into the skin and reach the lower layers and into the pores unclogging them of excess sebum, bacteria and impurities that have a tendency to build-up over time and eventually result in a flare-out of spots and breakouts. 

Oily and blemish prone skin types generally benefit more from using salicylic acid compared to dry or sensitive skins, this is due to the fact the molecular size of salicylic acid is smaller than the other acids and will reach further down in the skin. This is often the reason that salicylic acid can be too strong for certain skin types and cause some signs of dryness, irritation and redness.

If you wanted to know more about salicylic acid, check out our blog post about its benefits and how to introduce it to your skincare routine.

What should you not use with salicylic acid?

 Here are examples of the ingredients that are best avoided using with salicylic acid.

Retinol and Salicylic Acid

Both of these ingredients are two of the most potent blends in the plethora of skincare products. Combining both of these together will act as a super charged, double intense skin nightmare resulting in severe dryness, sensitivity and an increase in skin photosensitivity. If you are wanting to use both of these ingredients in your routines then try using a face wash or toner containing salicylic acid during your day routine, and apply a retinol in the evening., this will avoid any irritation but you’ll still get the results.

Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid

Both of these chemical exfoliants rid the top layers of the skin from dead skin cells. Glycolic acid is known as one of the most potent AHAs and so mixing it with salicylic acid will result in a lot of irritation and redness. When using these ingredients instead opt for using them during different times of day, my suggestion would be to leave salicylic acid for the evening as it is able to penetrate further into the skin and rid the pores of any bacteria, dirt and impurities.

Now let’s move onto the skin ingredients you can mix with salicylic acid.

What can you mix with salicylic acid?

The easiest way to think about which ingredients would work best with salicylic acid is taking into consideration their beneficial properties and if they compliment the effects this BHA has on the skin.

Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid

With niacinamide being a water-soluble ingredient and salicylic acid being an oil-soluble both instantly balance each other, but it gets better. Niacinamide contains humectant properties meaning it is able to draw in any ounce of water surrounding the face and locking it into the surface of the skin. This is something it’s able to do throughout the entire day resulting in the protective barrier of the remains hydrated and full of bounce. With the skin receiving a continuous dose of hydration, niacinamide is able to counteract any signs of dryness or redness that is often a result of using salicylic acid. Therefore, making both ingredients able to work harmoniously together and deliver impressive skin results.

Can you mix salicylic acid and vitamin C?

When layering skincare ingredients there is one factor you must always keep in the back of your mind, and that is pH levels. Now, I’d understand if the pH levels of your skin and skincare products is the last thing on your mind, but hopefully over time it will become second nature.

Vitamin C has had a reputation for being an unstable ingredient to use in formulations, however in more recent years modern technology and development has resulted in vitamin C being formulated effectively and to stay relatively low on the pH scale. For salicylic acid however, this is a whole other story with it being a lot more acidic. When the two are mixed together, you guessed it, there is an imbalance and all manner of flare-ups. Having said that, if you are wanting to use both of the ingredients it is a good idea to use vitamin C during your morning routine. For your evening you can then apply a salicylic acid serum or similar product to counteract any damage, debris and impurities that the skin has come in to contact with that day.

Can you use salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid together?

Some believe that salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid are a better duo than Batman and Robin. Much like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid works as a humectant giving the skin and huge boost in hydration and benefits the skin’s barrier, restores balance and leaves the skin plumped, youthful with fine lines and wrinkles significantly reduced. Using these ingredients together will help keep the skin healthy, happy with no sign of irritation or redness. 

Can I moisturise after salicylic acid?

Absolutely, if anything I strongly suggest moisturising after using salicylic acid. Not only will this soothe and calm the skin after applying the potent BHA to your skin. You will also find that moisturisers not only help balance the skin and keep it hydrated, it will also physically form a protective layer on top of the face to keep as many skin damaging free radicals at bay whilst helping any ingredients work their magic underneath. 

Can I use multiple products with salicylic acid?

As already mentioned, salicylic acid is one of the most potent skincare ingredients. By using multiple products containing the BHA is in short, a bad idea. This is not because the ingredient wrong for your skin type, but the fact that the molecule size is small resulting in the acid penetrating the furthest out of all acids combined with the exfoliating properties it will be too much for the skin. By using salicylic acid in multiple products you will find your skin will start feeling irritated, dry with possible flare-ups in redness and sensitivity.

There you have a little round-up of which ingredients work with salicylic acid and which should be avoided. Don’t forget if you have any skincare questions come and find me on over the Procoal Instagram.


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