Salicylic Acid 101

Any beauty maven worth her lipstick has at least heard about salicylic acid. As an important ingredient with so many different uses, salicylic acid might just be the beauty world’s busiest little multi-tasker, used in everything from shampoos to body wash. It seems like the question isn’t ‘what can salicylic acid do?’, it’s ‘what can’t salicylic acid do?’ Let’s find out!

Salicylic acid is a compound that was originally sourced from willow bark trees. Native Americans used willow bark as a pain reliever and salicylic acid is still used in pain medication and anti-inflammatories today.

To understand exactly how salicylic acid works, let’s have a quick biology lesson. Your skin is made up of a protein called keratin. Salicylic acid is a peeling agent that goes to work by softening the keratin in the top layer of your skin, loosening dead skin cells and unclogging blocked pores. By unclogging pores and exfoliating the top layer of the skin, salicylic acid works amazingly to treat skin conditions like acne, seborrhoeic dermatitis, dandruff, and even psoriasis. Thanks to its exfoliating and rejuvenating properties (check), it is also has the added bonus of making skin look younger.

Have we tempted you into trying salicylic acid yet? Here are some of our favorite products that contain it.

Murad Blemish & Wrinkle Treatment – Teenagers aren’t the only ones who get breakouts, and this treatment makes use of salicylic acid’s exfoliating, renewing and clarifying abilities to clear up breakouts, while stimulating collagen production for firmer, younger looking, wrinkle-free skin.

Phyto Phytheol Intense Treatment Shampoo – This treatment shampoo combines exfoliating salicylic acid, soothing fenugreek extract, and hydrating castor oil to gently, but quickly treat dandruff, eczema and psoriasis.

Bliss Ingrown Eliminator Pads – Whether your ingrown hairs are from shaving or waxing, these pre-soaked pads will show them the boot. They combine salicylic acid and glycolic acid to soften skin and eliminate ingrown hairs, and are gentle enough to use anywhere on the body.

Cellucur Scar Softening Cream – This cream will soften and smooth raised scar tissue. Its special Keratolytic Active Agent Complex contains salicylic acid to break down scars and help them blend in with the rest of the skin.

Dermalogica Post Shave Balm – We haven’t forgotten about the boys. Using salicylic acid’s wonderful ability to get rid of ingrown hairs, this post-shave balm will keep your man’s skin soft, smooth and bump-free.

-Rebecca Harrison