What is salicylic acid?


You may not be able to say it - or even spell it - but it’s the ingredient on everyone’s lips… Stylish Spy lifts the lid on salicylic acid

So… what is it?

Put simply, salicylic is an acid that occurs as a natural compound in plants. In its purest form it can be used to treat warts, skin tags, calluses, psoriasis, dandruff and ringworm by removing the top layer of the skin.

Eugh…  and you want me to put this on my face?

Used in tiny quantities - like our beloved retinol - salicylic acid can act as an anti-inflammatory antibacterial agent to improve the skin's appearance, preventing blackheads and breakouts by penetrating deep into pores and loosening dead skin cells. It also reduces inflammation and redness. The highest strength you’ll find in a home product is 2%.

I’m listening… how does it work?

Salicylic Acid penetrates deep into the hair follicles to exfoliate the skin at source, causing the cells of the epidermis to shed and, in turn, preventing pores from clogging – the main cause of acne. Clearing pores out this deep also encourages cell growth. And that’s not all: regular use of salicylic acid can improve skin thickness, barrier function, and collagen production, making it very effective in the treatment of acne-prone skin.

So it’s just for teenagers?

On the contrary… cleaner, clearer and collagen-plumped skin is something we are all after, right?

Sold. Can I use salicylic acid if I am pregnant?

As this is an acid, we recommend seeking advice from a doctor before adding this product to your skincare routine.

What form does salicylic come in?

These days, you can buy cleansers, toners, serums, exfoliators and even blemish control pads containing salicylic acid, and you can buy products everywhere - from Boots to Primark and beauty clinics to spas. Like retinol, the cost varies enormously, too, from as little as a cup of coffee to as much as a winter coat.

For a real treat, try Natura Bissè’s Diamond Glyco Extreme Peel (30ml, £230), an at-home exfoliator that works on the deepest layers of the skin to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, minimise pores and fade acne scars.

For a more affordable, daily option, try Million Dollar Facial’s Glyco Wash (30ml, £30), containing 2% salicylic acid to target cell renewal, and smooth and brighten skin. It’s suitable for all skin types. For best results, combine this with Million Dollar Facial’s Eliminate Peel (30ml, £45).

Stylish_Spa_Spy
  • Author

    Stylish Spy

  • Age 40-something
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching."

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"Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones."