Salicylic Acid: The Facts

salicylic acidSalicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy-acid that is commonly used in many acne treatments. It is derived from willow tree bark and can help to reduce excess sebum in the skin. Its anti-inflammatory and exfoliant properties also make it a popular choice for other skin treatments, such as psoriasis, calluses, corns and warts.

Similar to glycolic acid, salicylic acid encourages the epidermis to shed, keeping pores clear of cellular debris. As this exfoliation process helps to remove dry, scaly skin – keeping pore blockage to a minimum – it is very helpful in preventing breakouts.

Because salicylic acid is readily available over-the-counter, it may be tempting to use different types of treatment at once, or to overuse the product. However, excessive use can actually be detrimental to the skin and may cause dryness, peeling and irritation. As such, it is important to use care when implementing a new product into your skin-care routine.

Nevertheless, used correctly, many salicylic treatments can be a positive addition to any skincare regimen, especially for those with oily and acne prone skin.

Salicylic Acid Peel

Particularly effective is the salicylic acid peel, as it is able to penetrate deeper into the skin – removing blackheads, whiteheads and diminishing fine lines. At a concentration of 10 to 30 , salicylic acid peels have a much higher level of concentration than drugstore salicylic acne creams, which are typically at 1 to 5.

At this high concentration level, salicylic acid acts as a peeling agent dissolving the top layer of the epidermis. This peel aims to resurface the skin, resulting in a smoother complexion – treating current acne as well as preventing future breakouts.

A few days prior to the treatment, it is best to avoid exfoliation as the peel is already designed to remove the top layers of the epidermis. The skin should be clean and free from any creams, so a mild cleanser should be used beforehand.

Typically, the peel is placed on the skin for a period not exceeding 20 minutes. There is slight tingling involved, but the process should not cause any pain or discomfort. Once removed, the skin may appear red and shiny, but this will fade within a couple of hours if the peel performed is superficial. A mild lotion or cream may be applied to help with soothing, and makeup can usually be applied immediately or within a day.

As with any treatment, it is always important to protect the skin from harmful UV rays after the peel, as this can aggravate and cause damage to the skin. Always use an SPF 30 or above.

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2 Responses to “Salicylic Acid: The Facts”

  1. Ryon says:

    Great article!
    My story – I have been using salicylic acid for some time now to help clear my acne scars. Though, when I first started using it, I had no idea that it could be used for clearing my pores. I recommend that if you do use it, that you start out with a lighter percentage of salicylic acid (2%). Salicylic Acid 2% Exfoliator and worked my way up to 20%. My scars are so much better from using this stuff.

  2. Franklyn says:

    I have used Proactiv and a few other store bought products like Neutrogena and have not been overly impressed. I gave a try at the Skin Peel store (www.skin-peel.com) and have used almost all the Salicylic products they carry from 2% Salicylic up to the Salicylic 30% peel. I like the results with these products and I think its due to both the purity of the product, the choice in strengths and the way you use the product. Next I intend to try the Jessner peel which has salicylic and lactic which is an AHA cousin to Glycolic. P.S. the guys at http://www.naturalskinshop.com give out 15% coupon for just signing up to their newsletter list – I did and its pretty good info and deals.

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