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Acids have quickly become a very popular ingredient in the skincare world. Whether it is hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid, chances are you’ll find one or more of these in the ingredients list of your favorite serum or moisturizer.
So, the question that must be asked is, why are acids good for our skin? Each type has their own benefits from hydration and anti-aging to treating hyperpigmentation and acne. Applying acid to your skin may sound a bit extreme and scary at first, but after experimenting a bit, I can personally attest to the benefits!
My absolute favorite type of acid to include in my skincare routine is salicylic acid. I have acne prone skin, and salicylic acid has improved my complexion like no other product has before. Especially right now while we are still required to wear masks in most public places, my skin has been severely suffering. Not only has my skin gotten oilier and more prone to breakouts, but the “maske” problem is very, very real.
If you have acne prone skin, or just want a generally clearer complexion, salicylic acid is definitely worth a try.
Here are all the things you need to know about salicylic acid, and how to get rid of acne by adding salicylic acid to your skincare routine!
CAUSES OF ACNE
Before we talk about the solution, let’s first address some of the causes of acne and breakouts.
Diet: Unfortunately, what we eat can affect our bodies in more ways than one. Your diet may be a factor in how much or often your skin is breaking out. According to Harvard Medical School, certain foods can trigger inflammation and hormonal changes in the body, resulting in breakouts.
Environmental Factors: Believe it or not, there are many uncontrollable environmental factors that may be causing or contributing to your acne, such as bacteria build-up and pollution.
Stress: When we are particularly stressed, the hormones in our body are affected, which is directly tied to breakouts.
Oil: One of the biggest contributing factors to skincare problems is oil. Our skin naturally produces a healthy amount of oil, but when we fail to cleanse our skin properly, this can result in clogged pores, and subsequently, breakouts.
Skincare & Makeup: Another culprit of clogging our pores and causing acne is the beauty products we use every day. Makeup and hair products (anything coming into contact with our skin), especially if they are not oil-free, can definitely cause breakouts.
Face Masks: Limited air flow + sweat + moisture = the ultimate breeding ground for acne (I know, gross, right?). It’s sad but it’s true… “maske” is real.
WHAT IS SALICYLIC ACID?
Alright, let’s get scientific for a second.
In addition to being an insanely difficult word to pronounce (or am I the only one?), salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, often abbreviated ‘BHA’ on skincare products. While the other hydroxy acid (alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA) is water-soluble, beta hydroxy acid is oil soluble. For this reason, beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid) are able to easily penetrate the oily pores in our skin!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SALICYLIC ACID?
Enough science talk and on to the good stuff. Let’s talk about the benefits of salicylic acid.
Because salicylic acid is able to easily penetrate the pores of your skin, it is pretty much a clogged pore’s worst enemy. Basically, salicylic acid gets in there for deep exfoliation (meaning it gets rid of the dead skin clogging your pores), cleaning out those whiteheads or blackheads for clearer skin! If you are constantly wondering how to get rid of acne and treat breakouts, this is your solution.
HOW TO INCORPORATE SALICYLIC ACID INTO YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE:
Cleansing your skin is by far the most important step in any skincare routine, especially for those with acne prone skin. Using a salicylic acid cleanser will allow the deep penetration of your pores to reveal clear skin and reduce the chances of a breakout. Do some research before purchasing to find the best salicylic acid cleanser for your skin type and skin issues. If you are just starting to experiment with salicylic acid for clear skin, I definitely recommend trying a cleanser with salicylic acid.
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser for Acne Prone Skin ($15)
- Murad Clarifying Cleanser ($50)
- Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash ($62)
Serums are an easy powerful way to incorporate salicylic acid into your skincare. Salicylic acid serums are very common and effective, especially when applied directly after you cleanse your skin.
- Paula’s Choice Salicylic Acid Exfoliant [Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid] ($30)
- Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Defense Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment ($115)
- Peace Out Acne Treatment Serum ($45)
Many acne-clearing spot treatments contain salicylic acid to treat problem areas. Spot treatment products can range from creams to gels, but as long as salicylic acid or BHA is on that ingredient list, you’re on your way to clearer skin.
- Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment with 2% Salicylic Acid ($23)
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment ($20)
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting BHA 9 Spot Treatment, 9% Salicylic Acid Exfoliant ($43)
SALICYLIC ACID WARNINGS
As with any other skincare product, approach salicylic acid with a little caution. Salicylic acid is safe for almost all skin types, but especially if you have sensitive skin, do a small “patch test” before taking the plunge. Salicylic acid is typically safe to use daily (especially since there is usually only 1-2% in most products), but when in doubt, always consult your doctor or dermatologist before introducing a new product to your skincare routine.
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