Salicylic Acid in Your Fave Beauty Product


Photo credit:”Salicylic acid pads” by Original uploader was Obli at en.Wikipedia – Transfered from en.Wikipedia; en:Image:Salicylic acid pads.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Have you even wondered why most beauty products, especially those for acne-prone and oily type skin, contain salicylic acid? The acid, when the formulation is pretty strong, can even cure skin fungal infections.

So why do manufacturers put salicylic acid in some beauty products? Here are three reasons why.

1.     Salicylic acid is anti-inflammatory.

Salicylic acid is a derivative of salicin. The chemical salicin is found in various plants such as wintergreen, American pennyroyal, blue flag, blue cohosh, coca, cassie, dog’s grass, marigold, aspen bark, glory lily, sea island cotton, willow bark and plantain. These plants were mainly used for fever and pain. Another derivative of salicin is acetylsalicylic acid, which is commonly known as aspirin. It is considered to be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

If you have noticed, most anti-acne products contain salicylic acid mainly because it has an anti-inflammatory effect. It can lessen the redness and inflammation caused by pimples and acne.

2.     Salicylic acid helps exfoliate skin.

Salicylic acid has a keratolytic effect. It is an effective exfoliator. It can easily remove dead skin cells from the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. Once dead skin cells and debris are removed, it would be easier for certain ingredients and chemicals to penetrate the deeper layer of the skin. This is also another reason why some beauty and skincare products contain salicylic acid. It increases the efficacy and absorption rate of a particular skincare product.

Salicylic acid acts by dissolving the bonds that form between the outermost layer of skin cells and the next inner layer. Once it does, it would be easier to remove dead skin cells, whiteheads and blackheads. It also helps lift scaly skin that forms due to psoriasis and other skin conditions. It is also believe to ease stretch marks and scar formation.

3.     Salicylic acid is anti-fungal.

Salicylic acid, when applied in full strength, cannot only heal skin fungal infections such as tinea versicolor. It can also cure dandruff. Based on the Advisory Review Panel evaluation, salicylic acid in 2 to 3 percent concentration falls under category 1 for treatment of dandruff. Salicylic acid can also aid in easing the symptoms caused by psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.


Salicyclic acid absorbs ultraviolet radiation quite efficiently. As a result, those who use skincare products with salicylic acid often experience hypersensitivity when exposed to the sun.

As much as possible, avoid using products with salicylic acid in conjunction with other products containing sulfur, resorcinol, tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide. These products cause skin peeling, irritation and dryness to a greater extent. Also avoid cleansers and soaps which are abrasive. Stay away from products containing alcohol. Your skin can only take one ingredient at a time. Using them altogether is certainly too much for your skin.

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