Types Of Acne That Can Get Benefits From Salicylic Acid
Acne-prone skin usually has blackheads or whiteheads on the surface. If you have been struggling with any of the following, using face washes with Salicylic acid is the right choice.
- Pustules or small red pimples with puss
- Papules or small red bumps caused by inflammation or infected follicles
- Nodules or lumps usually caused beneath the surface of the skin
- Follow it up with a good non-comedogenic moisturizer.
- Cysts or large lumps filled with pus that are often painful and red
Although Salicylic acid helps in preventing and reducing acne, it is not an acne-treatment for persistent acne. To get rid of stubborn acne, you can consider treatment serums such as 2% benzoyl peroxide facial serum or 2% Retinol serum. Salicylic acid, along with acne treatment serums, can work wonders. Acnes are often developed during puberty when our body undergoes hormonal changes. Exposure to environment/pollution also triggers oil production, leading to acne. Acne can also be due to certain medications or genetics. If you have a sugary tooth or love to eat chips and have acne, then a change in diet is long overdue. Acne is more common in people with oily skin, but people with dry skin can develop acne more often than we think. Especially when skin becomes too dry, the oil glands beneath the surface produce excess oil to counteract it, which, if trapped along with dead cells, might result in acne.
Doctors Recommend The Best Salicylic Acid Products For Acne
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Salicylic acid is the gold standard for treating blackheads, whiteheads and excess oil and is naturally found in willow bark, vegetables and fruits. A common skin care ingredient, youve likely come across it while shopping for acne face washes, blackhead treatments and acne spot treatments, explained board-certified dermatologist Kathleen Viscusi, MD. But what is it, and why is it so popular? A beta hydroxy acid that can penetrate the skin to help remove excess oil and unclog the pores, salicylic acid possesses keratolytic properties that enable it to exfoliate dead skin cells and improve texture and tone, noted board-certified dermatologist , MD. If youre dealing with congested pores and acne right now, you might be looking for skin care products with salicylic acid in them. To help you find the right options for you, we consulted medical doctors on the benefits and limitations of salicylic acid in skincare.
How Often Should You Cleanse With A Salicylic Acid Cleanser
As a general rule, you should cleanse with a salicylic acid cleanser 2-3 times per day.
If you have oily skin and are using salicylic acid, you can use it both in the morning and at night.
If youre using glycolic acid, we recommend only cleansing with your glycolic acid cleanser once daily .
If you feel like your skin needs more than that, go ahead and do it! Just dont overdo it.
The point of cleansing is to get rid of excess oil and bacteria that has built up during the daynot to strip away all of your natural oils or irritate your skin.
We recommend washing twice daily because thats what our grandmothers used to do , but if three times seems excessive for you then stick with two instead!
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Who Can Use Salicylic Acid
As previously mentioned, salicylic acid is often best for oily and acne-prone skin types because “it’s oil soluble and dissolves the contents of the pores and reduces inflammation,” Dr. Rodney said. “In general, those with sensitive or dry skin should avoid salicylic acid as it can be irritating,” said Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. Hiva Fassihi, MD, consulting dermatologist for La Roche-Posay, also noted that the ingredient is excellent for teenagers experiencing breakouts, as well as being a good option for breakouts on your body. “You can wash your back with salicylic acid or even your chest if you have slightly oily, spotty skin,” she said.
What Else Does It Do
So we know that salicylic acid is great to treat acne, but did I mention that it has a ton of other insane benefits, too?
They include, but are not limited to
- Wart/callus removal
- Dandruff treatments
- Skin disorder treatments
Pretty impressive, right?! If this leaves you curious to learn more, we break down literally everything you may still be wondering about salicylic acid and the science behind it here.
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Can You Use A Toner After Applying Salicylic Acid
Like all acids, salicylic acid should be left on your skin for as long as possible, then rinsed away thoroughly.
This will help to ensure that the treatment is most effective.
Its also best to use a toner after applying salicylic acidnot beforeso you may want to wait until after you apply the product and let it sit for several minutes before gently rinsing it off with warm water or wiping it away with a cotton pad soaked in witch hazel .
Afterwards, follow up by patting dry your face with a clean towel and applying your regular moisturizer or serum so that all of the excess moisture is absorbed by this barrier product.
If you have sensitive skin or react negatively from using salicylic acid, we recommend using a milder exfoliator like lactic acid instead!
This will help remove dead cells without irritating surrounding tissues so much reducing inflammation and redness while improving overall appearance over time.
How Long Will It Take To See Results
Youll see results in a few weeks.
It depends on your skin type, how many pimples you have, and how often you use the cleanser.
Your skin might be dry or oily, and the oiliness of your skin can change over time due to age or hormones .
If you notice that your face is getting more oily than usual, try using an oil-free cleanser once or twice a week instead of every day.
Also, keep in mind that certain types of acne take longer to heal than othersfor example, cystic acne has been known to take up to two years!
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Should You Use A Pore Strip With Salicylic Acid
As with any other salicylic acid product, its not recommended that you use pore strips while using a salicylic acid cleanser or toner.
Pore strips are abrasive and can cause dryness, irritation, and skin damage.
A better option is to cleanse your face with the cleanser or toner before going to bed at night, then apply moisturizer after rinsing.
Weakens Acne Bacteriagreat For Acne & Blemishes
Acne bacteria does not like oxygen . Because salicylic acid unclogs and exfoliates pores, fresh air gets into the skin and creates a more oxygen-rich environment that’s less friendly to acne bacteria. It’s important to note, however, that even though salicylic acid can weaken acne bacteria, it will not completely kill it. The good news is other ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, can literally murder acne bacteria if you’re struggling with moderate to severe inflammatory acne . If you’re dealing with cystic acne, see azelaic acid.
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Is 2% Salicylic Acid Safe For Face
2% salicylic acid is safe for the face.
But please remember that its not recommended for sensitive skin and should be used only by adults.
Salicylic acid can cause irritation, so if you have sensitive skin, follow the instructions carefully or consult with a dermatologist before starting your treatment.
In addition, salicylic acid should not be applied to children under the age of 12 years old because they may have an allergic reaction after using this drug.
Also, dont use salicylic acid if youre pregnant or breastfeeding because there are studies that showed that it can lead to birth defects in infants eyes and ears if used during pregnancy or nursing period.
Top 3 Salicylic Acid Skin Care Products
Weve put together a GHS curated selection of our favorite skin care products that contain salicylic acid for fighting acne and controlling oiliness. We only link to products that we absolutely believe in. All the products weve chosen are paraben-free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free. Remember – results wont happen overnight. It will take 6-8 weeks of consistent topical use before you begin to see improvements, so stay consistent with your product usage.
Use in AM & PMAfter cleansing and/or exfoliating, apply this toner 2x daily using a cotton ball and smoothing over entire face and neck. Do not rinse off – instead, follow up with any additional serums or creams.Price$
Use in AM & PMAfter cleansing and/or exfoliating, apply this toner 2x daily using a cotton ball and smoothing over entire face and neck. Do not rinse off – instead, follow up with any additional serums or creams.Price$$
Use in AM & PMAfter cleansing and toning, apply this serum 2x daily. Massage directly onto the skin and concentrate on areas with acne and pigmentation. Do not rinse off – instead, follow up with moisturizer.Price$$Certified: paraben-free, sulfate-free, phthalate-free, cruelty-free
FOR SALICYLIC ACID
Consistency is key
Tingling is normal
Pair with Benzoyl Peroxide to fight breakouts
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Best Salicylic Acid Face Wash For Combination Skin: Cerave Renewing Sa Cleanser
If your skin can’t make up its mind and you have both slick spots and dry patches, reach for this salicylic acid face wash from CeraVe, a top pick for both derms. “Because it contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it’s much more hydrating than other salicylic acid cleansers, making it a good option for those with combination skin,” explains Dr. Icecreamwala. Dr. Greenfield agrees, noting that this facial cleanser with salicylic acid won’t dry out your skin.
How To Choose And Use The Best Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Experiment with textures: Generally, a gel cleanser absorbs oil and foams are great when you need something to really penetrate into the skin, says Dr. Markowitz. However, just because your skin is oily doesnt mean you wont benefit from a hydrating, creamy washespecially if you are easily irritated. Its really not a one-size-fits-all journey, but a gel texture is the most middle-of-the-road option to start with.
Pay attention to potency: Most OTC salicylic acid cleansers contain 2% of the active ingredient, which is a standard amount. But its still something to watch out for, because the stronger the percentage, the more potential for irritation there is.
Watch for oils and hydrators: If a salicylic acid cleanser contains a hydrator like shea butter or ceramides, their occlusive properties can actually increase the acids strength by trapping it into the skin, says Dr. Markowitz. Dr. Shamban says calming ingredients like green tea, aloe vera, allantoin, and niacinamide can soothe potential irritation. And, of course, stay away from oil-based ingredients that might worsen breakouts.
Extra exfoliators are a plus: Salicylic acids efficacy can be increased when combined with AHAs like lactic or glycolic acid, says Dr. Shamban.
Now that you have a better understanding of salicylic acid cleansers and how they work, heres your shopping list of the best dermatologist-recommended and top-rated picks.
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For A Blemish Spot Treatment: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Zap pimples using the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.
Treating your entire skin with salicylic acid may not be necessary if you only experience the occasional pimple. In that case, try using a spot treatment that dries up a blemish in one or two uses.
The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion contains salicylic and sulfuric acids to unclog the pores and calamine lotion to soothe irritation. Without shaking the bottle, dip a cotton swab down into the pink solution and dab it straight on a pimple. Note: It will leave a coating of pink powder, so this treatment may be best at night or when you won’t be leaving the house too soon.
Back To The Good Stuff What Kind Of Salicylic Acid Cleanser Is Right For Me And How Do I Use It
According to Dr. Chiu, the cleanser you choose should depend on your skin type, age, and primary skin concern. A salicylic acid cleanser comes in two formats: 1) with a soapy and lathery consistency, which is best for oily skin, and 2) with a soapless preparation, which is best for dryer skin, explains Dr. Burgess. Then, depending on your skin type, she continues, you usually can choose between 0.5%, 1%, or 2% salicylic acid concentration.
Although a lot of us may be used to throwing on, lathering up, and immediately rinsing a cleanser off, Dr. Burgess has a better recommendation to get the full effect of the salicylic acid cleanser. “You want to suds it up, put it on the skin, and let it sit on there for maybe a minute or two. . You’ll subsequently see more response versus just washing your face and then abruptly rinsing,” she says.
“You want to suds it up, put it on the skin, and let it sit on there for maybe a minute or two.” Dr. Cheryl Burgess
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Best For Dry Skin: Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash: Creamy Foaming Cleanser
Cream formula is soothing and gentle for sensitive skin
Contains salicylic acid derived from willow bark
Additional ingredients help detoxify and repair the skins barrier function
People with dry or sensitive skin will love this gentle cream cleanser. It removes impurities from your skin with oat- and amino acid-based surfactants while salicylic acid derived from white willow bark purifies pores and reduces irritation to prevent breakouts.
The formula also includes Icelandic kelp. While scientists don’t know the exact mechanism of action, Icelandic kelp is thought to work by detoxifying the skin and soothing inflammation, while cylindrica seed oil is thought to help repair the lipid barrier to prevent dryness.
Reviewers swear by this face wash, noting that a little bit goes a long way for a luxurious lather.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid from willow bark | Uses: Cleansing face, treating acne | Fragrance: Yes
Why Does Salicylic Acid Work Well In A Cleanser
When it comes to a cleanser, the molecule size, plus salicylic acid being oil-soluble, means it gets to work immediately at breaking down grime and dead skin cells and clearing congestion. Dr. Fassihi said the great thing about using the ingredient in the form of a cleanser is you can simply use it when you feel like your skin needs it. “I actually have two face washes: I have a face wash for my greasy days, and I have face washes for not-so-greasy it just depends on what my skin is doing,” she said. “I know both are good for my skin, but I would use the one that suits me on that particular day on that particular part of my menstrual cycle.”
Dr. Rodney recommended starting to use a salicylic acid cleanser once, maybe twice a week, and then increasing gradually as your skin needs it, provided you haven’t experienced any irritation or a reaction.
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Best For Combination Skin: Glytone Acne Clearing Cleanser With 2% Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid and glycolic acid combination cleans deep in the pores
Dermatologist approved for all ages
Can be drying on the skin
This popular cleanser contains a 2% salicylic acid concentration alongside glycolic acid to help reduce breakouts, clean out pores, even skin tone, and reduce blemishes. The formula reaches deep into pores to remove acne-causing bacteria and impurities while providing the proper balance of hydration for the skin to heal and restore. The dermatologist-approved face wash is beloved by users of all ages due to its ability to address a wide variety of issues, including milia, blackheads, whiteheads, and large pores.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid | Uses: Cleansing face, treating acne | Fragrance: None
Treats red skin tone as well as acne
Aloe and chamomile extracts help calm irritation
Contains artificial color
Many ingredients are not natural or plant-derived
If easy access is your primary concern, look no further than the Neutrogena section in your local pharmacy. This pretty green face wash is powered by a 2% salicylic acid concentration, helping you cut through excess oil and clear away dirt without drying out the skin. The oil-free formula is supplemented with soothing aloe and chamomile extracts to help calm any potential irritation and redness. This cleanser was specifically developed for acne-prone skin.
What Products Have Salicylic Acid In Them
If youre hounded with acne-prone skin, you already know that you need to be choosy about which products will be granted access to your daily routine. Its a delicate balance. One misstep with a moisturizer or serum and its an open invitation to a full-on acne breakout.
The tricky thing about acne is that theres no one-size-fits-all approach to fighting it. Plus, there are so many different types of acne. From blackheads to pustules, discovering how to limit breakoutsand avoid pimples altogetheris an individual journey. However, theres a star ingredient in the battle against acne: salicylic acid. Dr. Sonya Abdulla, a Toronto based dermatologist, explains what salicylic acid is and why its such a popular choice for staving off breakouts.
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Does Salicylic Acid Cure Acne
It plays a major role in removing and preventing pimples and skin blemishes in people having acne. It treats acne by reducing the inflammation and redness unplugging the blocked pores to allow the pimples to shrink. It exfoliates the skin and keeps the pore clear and works best for mild acne and can prevent further breakout.