What is salicylic acid, how does it work and how to use it?

Salicylic acid is known to be an extremely effective acne treatment ingredient. Girls with acne skin are looking for products containing this active ingredient to improve their skin condition. So is Salicylic acid really as effective as rumored and how it works on the skin, the content of the article below will help you answer the above question.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a aliphatic mono hydroxybenzoic acid, a phenolic acid, and a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). It is a colorless crystalline organic acid widely used in organic synthesis because it functions as a plant hormone. Perhaps this acid is well known because it is a very important ingredient in cosmetic products with the effect of treating acne.

Salicylic acid is an active ingredient found in many plants and animals.
Salicylic acid is an active ingredient found in many plants and animals.

1. Mechanism of action

Because this is an oil-based acid, when it comes in direct contact with the skin, it is not pushed back out by the skin’s oil layer like other substances, but on the contrary, it penetrates very quickly through the pores filled with sebum.

When applied to the skin, these active ingredients will initially penetrate into the skin and increase the necessary moisture for the skin. They will then go deep into the pores and dissolve the adhesives of the skin. At that time, the sebum that adheres to the layers of dead cells under the pores will melt, peel back, giving you soft skin, open pores without clogging.

Typically, at concentrations of 1-2% salicylic acid works well in skin care, from 0.5-1% capable of gently exfoliating without making the skin dry, from a concentration of 3% normally. used in the treatment inflammatory acne.

2. Uses of salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is known for its main use in treating acne, but it does not directly work to destroy acne, but only prevents the causes of acne. As we all know, when too many dead cells plus the secretion of sebum will clog pores, causing acne. Accordingly, salicylic acid has the task remove dead skin cells restricting the active sebaceous glands on the skin to help the pores when blocked so that acne will not have the opportunity to arise.

This active ingredient is very effective in treating acne - salicylic acid
This active ingredient is very effective in treating acne.

Which skin type is salicylic acid not suitable for?

Although it works very well for the skin, certain skin types should still consider using this active ingredient to avoid irritation. The skin types below are the skin types that should not use salicylic acid according to the Fitzpatrick scale (a system that classifies skin under the quality of skin color and ability to tan when exposed to the sun).

  • Skin type IV: Beige to brown skin, this skin type is usually only mildly sunburned.
  • Skin type V: Brown skin and almost never gets sunburned.
  • Skin type VI: Black and never sunburned.
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These skin types often have melanoma melanin is quite high, so when exposed to salicylic acid, it can easily lead to more obvious acne blemishes. In addition to the above skin types, in deficient cases, pregnant or lactating mothers should avoid using this active ingredient to ensure health safety.

Downsides of using salicylic acid

Any active ingredient has certain advantages and disadvantages, and salicylic acid is no exception. One of the biggest harmful effects of this substance use is Reye’s syndrome, which directly affects the body’s organs, especially the brain and liver. The basic manifestation of this syndrome is prolonged vomiting, accompanied by personality changes such as confusion, delirium, convulsions, loss of consciousness.

About 95% of patients with this syndrome are diagnosed as a result of long-term use of cosmetics containing salicylic acid in inappropriate concentrations. Therefore, to protect your health, you need to consider when choosing cosmetics and consult a specialist carefully before deciding to use this active ingredient on your skin.

However, the use of this active ingredient requires a clear indication of the concentration of the doctor. - salicylic acid
However, the use of this active ingredient requires a clear indication of the concentration of the doctor.

Note when using

Because salicylic acid has high bleaching properties, your skin will be thinner and more susceptible to sunburn, so use different types sunscreen has a broad spectrum, blocking both UVA and UVB rays to ensure that sunlight does not cause your skin to be further eroded.

When using salicylic acid, you should avoid using it with products containing Benzoyl Peroxide, Retinol, etc. to ensure that the skin is not weakened because of using too much bleach at the same time.

This active ingredient will be highly effective if you use it regularly. Do not rush to stop suddenly when you see that your facial skin has reduced acne because if you do not take care of your skin well enough, the pores are still likely to be blocked and acne will come back.

If you have brown skin or one of the skin types that should not use salicylic acid but still want to experiment, consult your doctor before using the product on your own.

There are many products on the market today that contain salicylic acid to help treat acne. Women should pay close attention to the concentration of active ingredients in cosmetics to ensure that their skin is always safe.

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