It's well-known for reducing acne by exfoliating the skin and keeping pores clear. You can find salicylic acid in a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) products. It's also available in prescription-strength formulas. Salicylic acid works best for mild acne (blackheads and whiteheads).
"If salicylic acid is an ingredient in your cleanser, it is fine to use it every day." However, if you are using an exfoliant that salicylic acid in the formula, Dr. Hu advises only using the product three times per week, to avoid over-exfoliating the skin and drying it out.
Topical salicylic acid treats acne by reducing swelling and redness and unplugging blocked skin pores to allow pimples to shrink. It treats other skin conditions by softening and loosening dry, scaly, or thickened skin so that it falls off or can be removed easily.
Acne treatments — especially those that contain active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid — are drying and a bit harsh on your skin. If you use too many treatments at the same time, your skin may become irritated, and you may actually suffer more breakouts as a result.
Salicylic acid and vitamin C are both effective products on their own but, when combined, they can be even more beneficial. Whether you're looking to brighten your skin, reduce the likelihood of blemishes or just help slow down the skin's natural aging process, these ingredients may be just what you're looking for.
Glycolic acid is an effective exfoliant, meaning it can remove dead skin cells. It's well suited to reducing hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and uneven skin tone. If you have acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is usually a better option. It can get rid of excess sebum and prevent or treat acne.
“You can use a salicylic acid–based cleanser in the morning to unclog pores and avoid acne and a glycolic acid–based cleanser at night to exfoliate your skin and get rid of dead skin cells,” notes Jailman.
Yes, this is normal.
Salicylic acid (the active ingredient in Compound W) is a keratolytic agent and works by peeling off the outer layers of the skin.
Signs it's not working: Your acne isn't going away and your skin is damaged. Why it might not be working: Not all acne is created equal — and if your acne is severe, salicylic might not be strong enough for you. “Cystic acne will need something stronger than salicylic acid,” says NYC-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman.
Do you apply salicylic acid before or after moisturiser? Generally speaking, the most potent skin products containing salicylic acid are those such as serums, spot treatments and cleansers, all of which are applied before moisturisers.
No, salicylic acid is not a skin lightening (as in whitening) agent and therefore, it cannot lighten your skin. However, since salicylic acid has the ability to exfoliate your skin's surface and remove dead skin cells, it can help give your skin a brighter more even complexion.
Dr. Shah notes that the concentration of ingredients in your acne product doesn't always affect how well they work, but it can. If you're having continued issues with your skin, it's possible the concentration of an ingredient like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide could be contributing.
But overall, stick to using water-based products and serums together. AHAs and BHAs, such as glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids should never be used with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an acid, too, and is unstable, so the pH balance will be thrown off by layering these ingredients together and might as well be useless.
The Ingredient: Salicylic Acid
When You'll See Results: When you use a product with salicylic acid, “there are some immediate improvements, because it helps dry out pimples,” Dr. Zeichner says. But getting the full blemish-busting effects takes about 12 weeks of regular use.
It is safe to use products with salicylic acid every day, unless it is specified otherwise on the product usage guidelines or by your health care professional. CeraVe's SA Smoothing Cream and SA Smoothing Cleanser are suitable for daily use.
which will wash away overnight treatments and any oil or bacteria. After cleansing, follow with our Salicylic Acid 2% Daily Treatment. You'll be amazed as you leave it on for a few minutes as you can actually watch your pores get lighter and tighter – it's awesome. After 1-3 minutes, rinse face with cool water.
Wipe the pad over the affected areas. Do not rinse off medicine after treatment.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE A SALICYLIC ACID? While the frequency of application will vary from product to product, most will recommend use twice daily.
Yes, you can, BUT you will get better results if you use vitamin C and glycolic acid/salicyclic acid separately. We recommend using vitamin C in the morning and your AHA or BHA at night.
Can niacinamide and salicylic acid be used together? The simple answer is yes. They complement each other well. Being oil soluble, salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into the skin layers, but it can also dehydrate and irritate skin.
Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid can have a retexturizing effect on the skin. Using products that contain these ingredients may help to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores by helping to sweep away dead skin cells, oil and other debris that has built up inside pores and on the skin's surface.
Doing so will help remove surface skin issues without damaging or drying out the skin. However, for individuals with oily or combination skin, salicylic acid is often the better choice.
Retinoid or Retinol and Salicylic Acid
But on its own, each can dry out the skin, so together they should be combined with caution. The risk is overdrying, which can lead to irritation and make the situation worse.