What Is Salicylic Acid? A Skin-Care Expert Explains Everything You Need to Know

What Is Salicylic Acid? A Skin-Care Expert Explains Everything You Need to Know

Image Source: Getty / Anna Efetova

You’ve probably the skin-care ingredient salicylic acid before, but you may not have a grand understanding of how it’s derived, what it’s generally used for, and how it compares to other acne-fighters. To get answers to those questions, we asked a medical aesthetician and founder of Dermovia, Anita Sun.

“Salicylic acid is an active ingredient that can be naturally derived from willowbark tree,” she told POPSUGAR. “It is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and is a gentle exfoliating ingredient that is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.”

As you can imagine, all of the above characteristics make salicylic acid a savior ingredient for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Sun also said it can work wonders for mature skin, rosacea, scars, and rough-texture skin concerns such as psoriasis.

“Salicylic acid is very beneficial for turning over dull skin to reveal brighter skin. It’s effective in exfoliating away surface dead skin cells, and its sloughing benefit helps to reduce acne and prevent bacteria from spreading,” she said. “BHAs are oil-soluble, so they can penetrate deeper into the skin to loosen and unclog oil sebum from pores.”

In that sense, salicylic acid can effectively decrease oil production and sebum secretion at a deep level, leaving you with a brighter, clearer, and more even complexion. The only thing to be cautious of is using high concentrations and quantities. When overdone, salicylic acid can cause the skin to over-dry, so save potent products for spot treatments and use masks and treatments with care.

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