Where Do I Fit Salicylic Acid into My Skincare Routine?

Where Do I Fit Salicylic Acid into My Skincare Routine?

If you’re new to using salicylic acid in your everyday skincare routine, you’ll find it can often feel a little daunting establishing where exactly you should use it and whether it will even fit into a routine you already have. 

Salicylic acid is one of the most used beta hydroxy acids (BHA) and often favoured by those who are prone to frequent breakouts, such as spots and blemishes. The way salicylic acid works on the skin varies slightly to the popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), such as glycolic acid, because of the fact it has a smaller molecular size meaning it can penetrate further into the skin and reach deep into the pores. Salicylic acid is also oil-soluble meaning it can unclog the pores of a build-up of excess sebum, bacteria, dirt, debris, and other impurities.

Whilst it works in the lower layers of the skin, salicylic acid can rid the outer surface of dead skin cells that if left will build-up over time leading to acne and other breakouts.

If you wanted to know more details about how salicylic acid works on the skin, check out the blog post about the skincare benefits of the clever BHA. You will also find we have a dedicated blog post about using salicylic acid serum in your everyday routine. Now that we have covered what salicylic acid does for the skin, let’s find out together where do you fit salicylic acid into your skincare routine.

Where does salicylic acid go in skincare routine?

This is dependent on the product formula containing salicylic acid as the general skincare rule is to apply your products in order of their consistency, from thinnest to thickest. This is understood to be the most optimal way to reap the rewards of the actives found in your skincare products. Quite often you’ll find salicylic acid is formulated into an array of skincare products, from cleansers, toners, or serums. By choosing which product you decide to use will help you understand where in your routine you can apply salicylic acid in your routine.

Although there are many options, exfoliating toners are known for being the most popular product to use.

This is because toners are highly effective products that can help rid the skin of dead skin cell build-up, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities. The added benefit of using a salicylic acid enriched toner is the fact it does not remain on the skin for an extended amount of time meaning it doesn’t cause any severe dryness or irritation for the skin. As for other skincare products, such as serums or moisturisers, these remain on the skin for a longer amount of time and are applied during the final stages of your daily routine. You will also find that the formulation contains higher concentrates of the powerhouse, so it is advised to only use serums or moisturisers once your skin has built some tolerance for the BHA already. This will help you avoided any unwanted irritation, skin reactions, or severe dryness. 

What can you use alongside salicylic acid?

There are several ingredients that can be used alongside salicylic acid.

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Peptides
  • Ceramides
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin C

Bearing in mind that not all the listed ingredients should be layered with salicylic acid, try applying more potent ingredients such as retinol and glycolic acid during alternate times throughout the day. For example, applying salicylic acid toner during your morning routine will rid the skin of debris build-up, following this with retinol in your evening routine will leave enough time in between to ensure the pH levels in the skin are rebalanced and prepared to absorb other skincare ingredients.

Before you apply any of these formulas to the skin, I strongly recommend you consult with a doctor or dermatologist to find the best product for you and your skin. You can also perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying the product to your face as this will help you avoid any unwanted irritation.

What goes first salicylic acid or hyaluronic acid?

For optimal results try applying salicylic acid first as this will rid the skin of any dead skin cell build-up this will reveal fresh skin that is more absorbent ensuring anything applied to the skin after will penetrate the lower layers of the skin quickly. This is ideal for you to follow this with hyaluronic acid as the humectant traits of this acid will draw moisture into the skin and lock it into place resulting in the skin barrier benefiting from a continuous flow of hydration. This will result in the barrier maintaining good health and the ability to protect the skin from exposure to free radicals, such as pollution, UV rays, central heating, and other environmental aggressors.

How do you introduce salicylic acid?

Many find that introducing salicylic acid into their routine is done by starting with an exfoliating toner as this is one of the most effective products that doesn’t cause too much irritation for the skin. Once you have built some tolerance for the powerhouse you can then move on to using a serum enriched in salicylic acid which will have a more potent percentage of the acid in the blend. Remember to apply the salicylic acid product once a week to begin with in the evening to keep the skin away from overexposure to UV rays. This will result in the skin reaping the rewards of the BHA without any side effects.

As I have already mentioned, ensure you and your skin are happy with this addition into your routine and try to avoid skin flare-ups, such as breakouts and irritation.

Should I use salicylic acid before niacinamide?

Yes, you can use salicylic acid before niacinamide. You’ll find niacinamide has similar benefits to the skin as hyaluronic acid, the main difference being its ability to regulate sebum production. This generally means niacinamide is favoured by those prone to acne as it helps hydrate and maintain skin clarity without disrupting salicylic acid from work its magic.

There you have a little more information about where to fit salicylic acid into your skincare routine, if you have any further skincare questions come and follow us on Instagram.


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