How to use salicylic acid (topical)

For most of us, the monsoons are warm pakodas and chai masala. However, for others it is oily skin and painful rashes.

If you fall into the latter category, you know that high humidity is no friend to your skin and actually aggravates all your skin problems.

Excess oil not only makes your face oily but also clogs your pores and can cause acne.

Although you can’t really control the weather, you can control your skincare routine.

Anyone with oily skin should know the best ingredients for their skin type, starting with salicylic acid.

This miraculous ingredient is endorsed by experts and here is everything you need to know about it.


What is salicylic acid

© iStock

Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring BHA or beta hydroxy acid. It is a powerful antioxidant and has antibacterial properties. It is because of these properties that it is considered one of the best anti-acne ingredients. It’s also a powerful exfoliator that helps unclog pores and reduce oil production.

Salicylic acid serum
Credit: Minimalist

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What makes it good for oily/acne-prone skin

man looking at his acne in the mirror © iStock

Acne is caused by excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria that build up in your pores. Clogged pores can also give rise to blackheads and whiteheads.

Salicylic acid helps unclog your pores by breaking down excess oil and dead skin cells. This is why it is often recommended by experts as an anti-acne treatment.

anti acne combo
Credit: The Derma Co.

The Derma Co. Bye Bye Acne Combo is enriched with salicylic acid and glycolic acid. It consists of a foaming face wash and a face serum that will help soothe acne and control bacterial growth on your skin.

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How to Use Salicylic Acid Topical Treatments

Salicylic acid comes in various forms. From face serums to face washes, you can use it in a variety of ways. When purchasing a salicylic acid product, always check the label to see the percentage used. The generally recommended concentration is between 0.5% and 2%.

Besides the usual skincare products, salicylic acid is also available in concentrated forms for topical use. These topical treatments can come in the form of gels, creams, or wipes. Since they are in higher concentration, they should be used only on the affected area and not on your whole face.

Follow these steps for effective results when using topical salicylic acid treatments:

Step 1: Use a mild facial cleanser to cleanse your face and pat dry.

Step 2: Avoid using toner, moisturizer or serum.

Step 2: Apply treatment directly to affected area only. Avoid the rest of your face. If you use your hands to apply the product, make sure your hands are clean.

Step 3: Leave on overnight and gently cleanse your face in the morning.

salicylic acid spot gel
Credit: Be Bodywise

This salicylic acid spot treatment from Be Bodywise helps eliminate painful acne and is formulated with 2% salicylic acid.

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How often should you use it?

bottle care product © iStock

Salicylic acid skincare products can be used twice a day or as part of your usual skincare routine. For topical treatments, initially apply once daily.

Being a powerful ingredient, your skin should be made easy to use it. Start by only using the product once every three days. If your skin does not react, you can increase the frequency to every other day.

Side effects

Although this ingredient is suitable and recommended for oily skin, it can cause serious side effects. Some of them include peeling skin, burning sensation, redness and extreme dryness.

If you experience any of these symptoms, try reducing the frequency of use. If that doesn’t help, seek professional advice and reconsider your product choice.

The result

Salicylic acid has virtually no serious side effects. When used correctly, it is the most effective and safest acne treatment to try. As a result, you will have oil-free, glowing and clear skin.

Go on and give your skin the treatment it deserves!