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What is Salicylic Acid?

According to, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid known for reducing acne by exfoliating the skin and keeping the pores clean.

When dead cells and oil clog the pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples appear. The salicylic acid penetrates your skin and dissolves the dead cells clogging your pores. If it’s your first time to use salicylic acid, keep in mind that it may take several weeks for the results to show. 

Never use salicylic acid more often than as stated on the product label unless recommended by your dermatologist. Salicylic acid is also only for the skin, do not get it to your nose, eyes, or mouth.

What are the benefits of Salicylic Acid for the skin?

Salicylic acid is most beneficial for people with oily or acne-prone skin. Here are some benefits:

  • Penetrates deep into pores
  • Loosens dead skin cells
  • Clears clogged pores
  • Reduces sebum secretion
  • Reduces inflammation and redness
  • It helps to break down pimples and comedones

What are the side effects?

Like any other ingredients, not everyone may benefit from Salicylic Acid. The most common side effect is skin irritation. If this happens, stop using the product and consult your dermatologist. When used as a standalone product, salicylic acid comes in varying concentrations, usually between 0.5 to 2 percent. Skincare products contain 0.5% salicylic acid. Other potential side effects are skin tingling or stinging, itching, and peeling skin.  

Precautions you need to be aware of before using salicylic acid

Although Salicylic Acid is available OTC, consult your doctor before using it. Considerations to discuss are the following:

  • Allergies – let your doctor know if you develop allergic reactions to salicylic acid.
  • Use in children – it is not recommended to use salicylic acid for children below two years old.
  • Drug interaction – Certain medications do not interact well with salicylic acid. Let your doctor know what medications you’re currently taking.

While there is technically no cure for acne, salicylic acid may offer relief and help clear breakouts.

If you do not see any results after six weeks, you may want to set an appointment with your doctor. They may recommend a stronger treatment such as retinol or prescribed retinoids.