Salicylic Acid is derived from the willow tree. It is a naturally occurring Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) which is also found in licorice, sweet birch, wintergreen leaves and marigold. The use of Salicylic Acid can be traced back to the ancient Greek era when it was used by Greek physicians to treat issues like pains, fever and headaches. The acid is also known to be integral to the French, German and English cultures. Salicylic Acid basically works as a keratolytic agent. This means that Salicylic Acid softens the keratin, a type of protein that is a part of the structure of the skin. This property helps Salicylic Acid to unclog the pores to neutralize the bacteria within, lead to cell turnover, reduces the pore size, stimulate cellular growth and prevent future pore clogging. Salicylic Acid usually has larger molecules than AHAs and this allows it to stay on the outermost layers of the skin, thereby allowing it to be more effective in terms of exfoliating the skin.
Its unique ability to penetrate the pore and act as a chemical trap for free radicals in order to exfoliate the skin from inside out makes it a wonderful ingredient for people suffering from acne prone skin or sensitive skin. Furthermore, Salicylic Acid also boasts of having anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. The presence of anti-inflammatory properties help it to reduce inflammation and redness and makes it ideal for sensitive skin.
The combination of these properties allows Salicylic Acid to prevent scarring, heal the skin and decrease the scope for further skin breakouts. Since Salicylic Acid is oil soluble, it also manages to penetrate deep into the pores and keep the follicles clear of cellular build-up. However, in order for Salicylic Acid to be effective, the product must offer a concentration of at least 1%, but preferably 2%. Apart from the concentration, the pH level is also important. Salicylic Acid products must have a pH level of 3 – 4 for them to be effective.
One particular study that actually proved the benefits that Salicylic Acid has to offer was published in the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Journal in the year 2011. According to the authors of this study (A. M. Kligman and D. Kligman) Salicylic Acid can offer distinct advantages to photo-damaged skin by helping with fading pigment spots, reducing fine lines and decreasing surface roughness.
Fighting Acne – Salicylic Acid is very effective for fighting against acne. It is pivotal to acne treatments and it helps you to dry out the pimples, boost cell turnover and get rid of post-acne marks.
Powerful exfoliator – Apart from helping you with acne issues, Salicylic Acid helps out with skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis because of its powerful exfoliating capabilities. Salicylic Acid loosens the keratin and allows the skin to shed off scaly and thickened plaques easily.
Anti-inflammatory benefits that can be compared to aspirin – Salicylic Acid is known to offer the same anti-inflammatory benefits as aspirin. It can be used in a liquid form to deal with all sorts of skin issues and it can also be useful to declog whiteheads and blackheads.
Helping out with all sorts of skin issues – Salicylic Acid is also known to be very useful for offering anti-aging solutions, getting rid of skin scars and removing stretch marks.