Salicylic acid can help treat many common skin conditions. Learn what it is, how to use it, and our tips for a smooth and gorgeous complexion.

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Salicylic Acid For Your Skin: Uses, Benefits, And Tips

05/21/20228 min read

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient used to treat many skin conditions. This star additive is well-known for unblocking clogged pores, exfoliating the skin, and leaving it looking smoother and healthier.

If you have psoriasis, acne, or any other skin condition, adding salicylic acid to your skincare routine might finally get you the results you’re looking for.

This article will dive deeper into what salicylic acid is, how it works, and who will benefit most from using it. We’ll also add a few general Bodewell pro skincare tips to help you get vibrant and healthy-looking skin.

Let’s begin with the basics.

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Person scratches hands with irritation

Salicylic Acid (SA) is often used to treat skin that has become scaly, flaky, and even thickened. It occurs naturally in plants like willow bark.

Topical use of SA (either in combination with other medications or alone) has been shown to treat skin several conditions, including:

  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Chronic atopic dermatitis
  • Viral warts
  • Ichthyosis
  • Lichen simplex
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

One of the best things about SA is that it has many incredible benefits for skin, including the ability to act as an anti-inflammatory. It also works as an exfoliant and can remove dead skin cells.

You’ll likely hear of two different classes of acids in skincare products: beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

SA belongs to the BHA group. Without diving too deep into its chemistry, the hydroxyl part of the molecule is separated from the acid by two carbon atoms. This helps make it more oil-soluble and allows it to penetrate the pores of the skin and do its job.

When it comes to over-the-counter products that help with breakouts and other common skin conditions, like psoriasis, salicylic acid is one of the best ingredients out there.

Salicylic Acid Uses

Woman gets a facial

Topical use of salicylic acid comes in many different forms, such as gel, cream, liquid, ointment, soap, shampoo, lotion, skin patches, and cloth pads.

No matter what form of SA your doctor prescribes or you choose to use, it’s a powerful ingredient for your skin.

Keep in mind, though, that whenever you add a new product into your skincare routine, it’s important to assess its safety and make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin. We are all unique, and a product or ingredient that works well for one person may not be right for the next.

If you have any questions, always consult your healthcare professional as they'll be able to advise you on the best product for your unique situation.

That said, here's a look at some instances where you may need to speak to your healthcare provider before using salicylic acid.

When To Exercise Caution With Salicylic Acid

If You're Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

The products you use during pregnancy or when you're breastfeeding affect your babies as well as you.

Their little immune systems are fragile, so whether they are still in the womb or in your arms, it's essential to be extra careful when introducing any product, regardless of whether you’re using it topically or ingesting it as medication.

Topical use of SA while pregnant or breastfeeding is generally not a problem. However, it's always best to get more information from your doctor before using it.

If You Have Allergies

Allergic reactions to salicylic acid are very rare. However, if you use a product containing SA and have a reaction, it's best to stop using it and seek medical attention immediately.

Sometimes, you may find that it's not the salicylic acid specifically that's the problem, but rather another ingredient used to formulate the product as a whole.

In this case, your doctor may be able to prescribe another skincare product with SA but without the element that you may be allergic to.

If You Have Pre-Existing Conditions

Products containing salicylic acid may not be safe if you have a liver or kidney condition. The only person who can confirm whether or not you can use a product containing SA is your doctor, so be sure to have a conversation with them before purchasing.

Benefits Of Salicylic Acid

Anyone, regardless of skin type, can use salicylic acid. However, it is especially useful for acne-prone or oily skin or if you have any of the above-mentioned skin conditions.

When used correctly, salicylic acid can:

  • Clear clogged pores
  • Reduce redness and inflammation
  • Reduce sebum secretion
  • Loosen dead skin cells

Like any product, salicylic acid has some potential side effects, including:

  • Mild irritation
  • Mild burning
  • Skin peeling
  • Dryness
  • Mild stinging

If any of these side effects become severe or persist, discontinue use and speak with your healthcare provider.

Skincare Tips For Using Salicylic Acid

If you're looking to include SA in your skincare regimen, you may have a few questions about how to use it. Here’s a closer look at some of the best practices for introducing a new product into your routine.

1) Start With A Spot Test

Woman applies salicylic acid to her hand

It's always a good idea to test any new product on a small patch of your skin before fully incorporating it into your skincare routine.

First, cleanse your skin with your usual cleanser and pat it dry. Next, test a small amount of salicylic acid on a small patch of your skin.

If you don't experience any redness, dryness, or tingling within 24 hours, you are free to use it!

2) Get Rid Of The Retinol

Retinol is a popular skincare ingredient because it has amazing anti-aging properties. However, when used in combination with salicylic acid, it can irritate your skin.

If you are going to use SA, consider leaving the retinol out of your skincare regimen for a while. For example, if you have a bad breakout on your face and you’re using salicylic acid pads to tackle the impurities, skip the retinol until it’s healed.

3) Focus On Your Problem Areas

Sometimes, only one area of your skin is giving you trouble. For example, you may have pimples on your forehead or psoriasis on your hands. In this case, it's best to use salicylic acid as a spot treatment by focusing on the irritated area.

Using the spot-treatment method is a good strategy if you’re applying a product with a high concentration of SA. If you use this type of formula all over your body, it might dry your skin out.

If you’re after smooth, clear, and nourished skin, here are a few more tips to keep in mind:

  • Shower daily, and wash your face at least twice a day. This will help ensure that you rid your skin of any dirt and bacteria you may come across during the day.
  • Shower as soon as possible after sweating (i.e., after going to the gym).
  • Always use lukewarm water when showering or washing your face. Some people believe that hot water cleans better, but it doesn’t do your skin any favors. Instead, avoid hot water whenever possible because it strips your skin of its natural oils and can lead to dryness and irritation.
  • Avoid scrubbing your skin. Instead, use your fingertips and a face wash to gently cleanse your face.
  • Avoid touching your face throughout the day, especially when you haven't washed your hands.
  • Always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and keep reapplying it every two hours if you are out in the sun.

The above recommendations can help you on your healthy skin journey. However, always see your doctor if you suspect that you may have serious underlying problems.

For example, if you have allergies or a skin disease, a doctor will be able to prescribe the perfect combination of topical treatments and internal medications that are suitable for you and your needs.

Say Hello To Healthy Skin

Woman applies cream to her face

You may know salicylic acid as a common ingredient in acne-treating products, but its different forms and uses aren’t discussed as widely. Whether you use a gel, cream, ointment, or pill, SA can help you get the smooth and healthy-looking skin you’ve been searching for.

Psoriasis is a condition that can truly benefit from this ingredient. And with Bodewell Psoriasis Calming Cream, you can kiss dry, flaky, irritated skin goodbye!

With just the right amount of salicylic acid, coconut oil, Vitamin E, Safflower seed oil, and a proprietary botanical blend, our cream will help your skin stay moisturized and soothed throughout the day.

Just remember to use it as prescribed, and if you have other underlying issues (e.g., you’re pregnant or have allergies), consult your doctor about the best way to treat your skin.

Whether you’re looking to clear those pores, exfoliate your skin, or find relief from psoriasis, salicylic acid is a great addition to almost every routine for better skin days!

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