Skingredient Spotlight: Salicylic Acid

Everything you need to know!

Pic: Instagram/@skinwhims

Skincare ingredients have become a popular topic of conversation among beauty gurus over the last five years. There’s a skincare product to help with just about any skin issue but what do we really know about the products we’re putting on our skin?

So if you’re like us and really haven’t a clue when it comes to skincare but want to know more then pay attention. We’re about to put a spotlight on some of the most important skingredients to have in your routine over the next few weeks. Last week we chatted about all things Niacinamide. This week we’re championing the oily gals hero ingredient – Salicylic Acid.

What is it?

This one is for the acne sufferers. Skincare acids are split into Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). Salicylic Acid, is a skingredient that comes from the Beta Hydroxy acids (BHA) class of acids. BHAs, like Salicylic Acid, are more oil-soluble, while AHAs are more water-soluble.

Meaning, BHA’s easily break through the skin’s layers and penetrate the skin at a deeper level, making it easier to get beneath all the oil and build up associated with acne.

The acid in the product can break down and loosen debris (like dead skin cells and oil) making it easier to exfoliate and cleanse any impurities that are clogging the pores, this is why chemical peels are recommended over physical exfoliators.

How do I use it?

Salicylic Acid is good for all skin-types but has particularly good benefits when it comes to acne-prone and oily skin due to its anti-inflammatory components. They help to soothe irritated skin and combat acne problems as well as prevent further breakouts. If salicylic acid appears in your cleanser you’re safe to use it everyday but if it’s an exfoliant that includes a percentage of the BHA then you must use it three times a week maximum to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils

What other ingredients can I mix it with?

Mixing your skincare ingredients can have a wonderful effect on your skin as your getting the benefit from a number of different skingredients in one go, instead of using a different one each day. However, you have to be careful when mixing certain ingredients, particularly when it comes to acids as your skin can be easily irritated depending on the actives used.

Salicylic Acid is perfectly safe to mix with most skingridients but we would hold off mixing with retinol as it can lead to some unwanted skin irritation. So save your Salicylic acid cleanser for the morning and your retinol for the evening and you should be good to go.

We would also advise against mixing with Glycolic acid as both chemical exfoliants remove the top layer of skin. Glycolic acid is the most potent of the AHAs meaning mixing it with Salicylic Acid would result in severe redness and irritation.

Vitamin C is the final ingredient not to mix with any AHA or BHA as it is very unstable. The optimal pH value of our skin lies between 4.7 and 5.75. A pH of 7  is considered neutral. While anything below that is acidic and above it alkaline, making skin’s natural pH mildly acidic. Due to Salicylic Acid having a high level of acidity, when the two are mixed together there is an imbalance resulting in all manner of flare-ups.

When should I see results?

Long term results can take up to six weeks to appear due to the time it takes for skin cells to turn over and the products to finally reach the skin’s surface.

Here’s some of our favourite Salicylic Acid products

Cera Ve SA Smoothing Cleanser, €16.45

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, €13.95

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, €37.95

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Liquid Peel, €31

Ole Henricksen Balance Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturiser, €45