Home Skin Care Why You Need Salicylic Acid for Acne – Prone Skin

Why You Need Salicylic Acid for Acne – Prone Skin

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Dealing with acne can be a frustrating and confidence-diminishing experience. However, there’s a powerful ally in the fight against acne – salicylic acid. This widely-used skincare ingredient has gained popularity for its effectiveness in treating and preventing acne breakouts. 

However, with some incredible information, comes a lot of misinformation, and that is exactly why I am here today to help you sort the noise around salicylic acid, the science behind and how to use it in your skin regime. 

What is All The Buzz Around Salicylic Acid

Let’s start from the basics,

What is Salicylic Acid and What Does it Do?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark, and it boasts remarkable properties that make it a go-to ingredient for acne treatment. BHA is a naturally occuring exfoliating agent that penetrates deep into pores, clearing the skin from inside out. Unlike other naturally occurring acids, BHA is safe and gentle for every skin type. 

Unclogging Pores

One of the primary causes of acne is the accumulation of dead skin cells and sebum within the pores, leading to clogged pores and the formation of pimples. Salicylic acid acts as an exfoliant, effectively breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells and promoting their shedding. By removing this layer of buildup, salicylic acid unclogs pores and prevents new breakouts from forming.

Fighting Inflammation

Acne is often accompanied by inflammation, resulting in redness, swelling, and discomfort. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that help calm the skin, reducing redness and soothing inflamed acne lesions. This can lead to a visible reduction in the appearance of existing acne and provide relief from discomfort.

Balancing Oil Production

Excessive oil production can contribute to the development of acne. Salicylic acid works by regulating the skin’s oil production, helping to prevent pores from becoming congested and reducing the likelihood of new breakouts. By keeping oil production in check, salicylic acid supports a balanced complexion.

What Makes Salicylic Acid so Effective for Acne Prone Skin?


Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, which means it helps to dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together. By gently exfoliating the skin, it promotes the shedding of dead skin cells and prevents them from clogging the pores, while also maintaining skin barrier. This process helps to unclog existing acne lesions and prevent the formation of new ones.

Deeper Penetration

Salicylic acid is unique in its ability to penetrate the pores deeply. It is oil-soluble, which allows it to dissolve excess oil and sebum that can contribute to pore blockage. By reaching deep into the pores, salicylic acid can effectively break down the buildup of debris, bacteria, and dead skin cells that contribute to acne breakouts.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

According to top aesthetic physician Dr Rubab Zahra, Inflammation is a common characteristic of acne, resulting in redness, swelling, and discomfort. Salicylic acid possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe and calm the skin. By reducing inflammation, it can alleviate the visible signs of acne, promote healing, and provide relief from associated symptoms.

Oil Regulation

Salicylic acid helps to regulate sebum production, which is crucial for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Excessive sebum production can lead to clogged pores and increased acne breakouts. Salicylic acid helps to balance oil production, preventing the skin from becoming excessively oily and reducing the likelihood of pore blockage.

Comedolytic Effects

 Comedones, also known as blackheads and whiteheads, are a common type of acne lesion. Salicylic acid has comedolytic properties, meaning it can break down and dissolve these comedones. By targeting and treating these types of lesions, salicylic acid helps to clear the skin pores and prevent future breakouts.

Post-Acne Hyperpigmentation

Acne breakouts can often leave behind marks or discoloration known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Salicylic acid can help to fade these dark spots and promote a more even skin tone over time. It does so by exfoliating the top layers of the skin and stimulating cell turnover, allowing fresh, healthy skin to emerge.

Recommended ReadHome Remedies for Hyperpigmentation

How to Incorporate Salicylic Acid into Your Skincare Routine

Having Salicylic Acid as the main ingredient in one of skincare routines is going to benefit your skin regardless of its skint type. Based on the latest research and on your facial skin type, here is what you must be doing in one of your skin routines. 

  • Cleansers – Look for facial cleansers containing salicylic acid. Use them once or twice a day to gently cleanse the skin, removing impurities and excess oil.
  • Spot Treatments – Apply a targeted spot treatment containing salicylic acid directly onto acne lesions. This helps accelerate healing and reduces the size and redness of individual pimples.
  • Exfoliants – Opt for salicylic acid-based exfoliating products, such as toners or serums, to incorporate into your skincare routine. These products help to maintain clear pores and promote a smoother complexion.
  • Masks – Use a salicylic acid-infused mask once a week to deeply cleanse and purify the skin. This can be particularly beneficial for oily or acne-prone skin types.
  • Moisturisers – Look for lightweight moisturisers that are formulated with salicylic acid. These products provide hydration while also addressing acne concerns.

Recommended Read – Hydrators vs Moisturisers 

Be Careful with Your Salicylic Acid Considerations 

  • Start slowly If you’re new to salicylic acid, begin by using it once or twice a week and gradually increase frequency as your skin tolerates it well.
  • Protect your skin with a good sunscreen with at least 50 spf. Salicylic acid may increase sensitivity to the sun, so ensure you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 50 when using this ingredient.
  • Keep your skin hydrated inside out at all times. Make sure to use a thick moisturiser to avoid any skin dryness 
  • Use all of your salicylic acid infused products at night.Your skin may become more sensitive to UV rays. 

In case of any skin reaction or skin rashes, immediately consult with a dermatologist. Also If you have severe cystic acne or any concerns about incorporating salicylic acid into your routine, it’s always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist for personalised advice and guidance.

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