Ingredients Glossary: The Benefits Of Salicylic Acid

Is there anything that salicylic acid can’t do? It might sound scary – acid often does – but in skincare this multi-purpose beta-hydroxy acid can cure acne, calm irritation and smooth uneven texture.

Salicylic is also an excellent exfoliator and is prescribed, in stronger doses, by doctors to treat chronic cases of acne. The acid is gentle, but effective, at breaking down and dissolving skin cell buildup that can end up clogging pores that can lead to a breakout of blackheads and whiteheads. It has proven renewing properties, so can help firm and tone the skin by encouraging cell turnover. What’s more, it’s also sometimes attributed with being able to give skin a ‘deep clean’ because it’s able to penetrate into pores.

Here are a few our favourite products that contain it…

The Cleanser
This cleansing gel contains salicylic acid to gently, but efficiently, tackle sebum production for skin that looks and feels more refined and less prone to breakouts.
Vichy Normaderm Deep Cleansing Purifying Gel, £11.50

The Exfoliator
If your skin errs on the combination or oily side, and you experience sensitivity then this fragrance-free, leave-on lotion will help you manage your skin type. Effective at treating breakouts, it’s worth remembering that salicylic acid is also an anti-inflammatory so can treat redness and even soothe stressed-out skin.
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant, £25

The Mask
Salicylic might be a high-performance skincare ingredient, but it doesn’t have to be functional and boring. This mask contains avocado and dead sea mud for a pampering treat that pulls out impurities, nourishes and refines the skin.
Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Clay Mask, £9.99

The Gel
A targeted treatment that uses salicylic acid, caffeine and red algae to exfoliate, calm and reduce the appearance of redness. A great choice for targeting sudden flare ups.
Origins Super Spot Remover, £15

The Serum
We know that salicylic is an effective exfoliator, without any of the scrubbing or roughness, and this gel also contains thyme for its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. When your skin breaks out, reach for this little salicylic saviour.
Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum, £17.50

The Moisturiser
A great base under your makeup, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo[+], £15.50, works to target oily, blemish-prone skin by unclogging pores, helping to refine the surface of the skin and reducing the appearance of any marks. Alternatively, Kiehls Blue Herbal Moisturiser, £26.50, contains a winning combination of salicylic acid, ginger root and extracts of cinnamon bark to prevent new blemishes forming.


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