Anyone who has done their best to take care of their skin typically knows that salicylic acid works. It is a go-to ingredient in various acne scrubs and that means anyone who has suffered a breakout has probably reached for it at one point. Knowing that it works is only one part of understanding this beta hydroxy acid though. Why does it work? The beauty and skin care industries didn’t just stumble across it and start using it at random in the last decade. OROGOLD is going to take the time to explain how this acid works and why it enjoys such common use. It is all well and good to recognize a useful ingredient, but it is always better to know how it works as well.
It Penetrates the Skin’s Defenses
As an acid, salicylic acid is capable of dissolving away various items. This includes the skin’s natural oils. These natural oils are actually one of the major causes of breakouts and that is partly why the acid is so useful. Other oils can help sweep them away, but salicylic acid actually “eats” them away. This allows it to get inside pores more effectively than other compounds. Once inside the pores it is able to in turn dissolve grime and other build up within the pores to clean them out. This helps ensure there is less for natural oils to bind to and in turn clog pores. The natural drying effects of this aspect of the acid are highly beneficial in skin care, but are also why you need to moisturize after using this kind of chemical exfoliant. Your skin will react adversely and produce more oil than it did before if it feels it is too dry.
It Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
One lesser know property of salicylic acid is that once it penetrates the skin it can help soothe inflammation caused by acne and other skin conditions. This helps soothe the skin back into normal behavior instead of continuing to react adversely. The acid helps clear things out of the way on its own, but what causes this effect is the fact that it shares a high chemical similarity to aspirin. When enough of the compound passes through the skin topically, you end up with calmer skin. OROGOLD would like to highlight that this is why people who create their own skin care products often incorporate a crushed aspirin. We suggest sticking to industry maintained levels of salicylic acid and its siblings though. Acids work best in particular concentrations and overshooting them can damage your skin in a lasting way.
It Softens Skin
Dead skin cells are dissolved by salicylic acid as readily as oils. This is why it gets used as a prominent chemical exfoliant. This isn’t the full story though. As useful as the acid is as an exfoliant, it also affects living skin cells as well. Particular skin conditions cause excessively dry, scaly, and hard skin. These are often difficult to deal with and react poorly to standard skin routine solutions like pure exfoliation. Salicylic acid can help remove the upper layers of dry, dead skin in this cases and further soften the lower layers as part of a treatment. You’ll often find prescription preparations using salicylic acid used to treat conditions like psoriasis as a result. The added benefit in the case of conditions where the underlying cause is a kind of inflammation is that they also benefit from the acid’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Acids are useful in skin care for a variety of reasons and salicylic acid is one of the most useful. Its use has been supported time and time again by professionals and its flexibility means it is useful to many people. OROGOLD again stresses caution when it comes to using products with a high concentration of this and other acids. Acids do well by the skin, but you need to use them precisely as directed and remember to moisturize effectively afterwards. Hopefully this quick overview has given you an idea of how one of skin care’s favorite ingredients actually works and gives you a new appreciation for the care put into selecting what goes into your products.