Salicylic Acid for Skin: Its uses & benefits in acne

Salicylic acid is one of the most well-known acne-fighting agents. It plays a vital role in removing dead cells and can penetrate deeper into the pores of the skin to treat the acne. So, lets now understand what actually salicylic acid is, its structure and how is it beneficial for our skin.

We'll discuss the following things:

1. What is salicyclic acid?

2. What are the uses of salicylic acid?

3. Does salicylic acid cure acne?

4. Is there any side effect of using salicylic acid?

5. What are the Salicylic acid products?

6. How to use salicylic acid?

7. Which fruit contains salicylic acid?

8. Get More Ways to Improve Your Acne Prone Skin Health 

What is salicylic acid?


Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, which is obtained from willow bark and wintergreen. It is a class of medications called keratolytic agents. The structure of it is important because it makes it, even more, oil-soluble and thus it can penetrate deeper into the pores of the skin.

This process takes time and thus the full effect is seen after a few weeks. It has been said that oil soluble ingredients can pass through the lipid layers of the skin more easily.

What are the uses of salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid causes shedding of the upper layer of the skin. It is used in the treatment of acne prone skin, dandruff, psoriasis and to remove corns, calluses and warts. 

It causes the skin to remove the top layer of the skin by increasing the amount of moisture and dissolving the cement between the cells. This softens the skin and removes the dryness and scaling.

With this, we can even remove the dead skin over the palms and soles of the foot. It is even best for blackheads, non-inflamed breakouts and whiteheads.

Does salicylic acid cure acne?

It plays a major role in removing and preventing pimples and skin blemishes in people having acne. It treats acne by reducing the inflammation and redness unplugging the blocked pores to allow the pimples to shrink. It exfoliates the skin and keeps the pore clear and works best for mild acne and can prevent further breakout.

Is there any side effect of using salicylic acid?

Topical salicylic acid for skin has many side effects. So, make sure you use it wisely and immediately inform the dermatologist if you are having any symptom of skin irritation and stinging at the area where you applied the medication.

Call the doctor immediately if you are having extreme tiredness, fast breathing, headache, dizziness and nausea.

Stop the use of salicylic acid medication if you have swelling in eyes, lips or tongue, itching at the area you applied the medication, difficulty in breathing and feeling faint.

What are the Salicylic acid products?

It has been recommended by the dermatologist to use face wash or a cleanser with 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent salicylic acid daily.

Salicylic acid face wash


There are various face washes which contain salicylic acid and play an important role in dissolving the clogs that block the skin pores. It sweeps away the dead skin and penetrates even deeper to dissolve the debris. Mostly along with salicylic acid many other ingredients like glycolic acid, aloe vera extracts and vitamin E are also present in various acne face washes.

Salicylic acid cleansers

These are very popular because they not only remove the dirt and impurities from the skin but also clears clogged pores. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, removes excess oil and dead skin cells. Salicylic acids facial cleansers can be used daily but you can reduce it as overuse may lead to excessive dryness of the skin. These cleansers are suitable for all types of skin tones.

Salicylic acid peels


Such treatments are done to deeply exfoliate the skin layers. It breaks the bond that holds the cells of skin together making them shed away. Compared to the various other treatments like chemical peeling, this method gives gentle exfoliating action.

Salicylic acid lotions

These lotions are best used to remove dry skin and treat diseases like psoriasis. It also helps in peeling the rough dead skin from warts, the palms and soles of the feet.

How to use salicylic acid?

It should be used as prescribed by the skincare specialists. Do not use it excessively as it has many side effects. This should be used only for skin not for eyes, nose or mouth. If you are using topical salicylic acid then directly apply the medication on the required area gently and leave it undisturbed.

Do not swallow it and never apply it on broken and swollen skin. Do not use it frequently on highly sensitive skin. Contact your doctor immediately, if you have any irritation, swelling or redness at the area where medication is applied.

Which fruit contains salicylic acid?


It is naturally derived from wintergreen, willow tree and sweet birch. It is also present in fruits like raspberries, apricots, blackberries, prunes, grapes, pineapples, etc.

Get More Ways to Improve Your Acne Prone Skin Health 

If you want to learn more ways to keep your oily or acne prone skin healthy, be sure to check out our blog. It's full of posts that will help you maintain hair health. This post has five tips on choosing a sunscreen for oily acne prone skin.

Faq’s on Salicylic acid

1. Can you be allergic to salicylic acid?

Allergic reactions are seen in people who are allergic to aspirin because salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. 

2. Does salicylic acid prevent acne?

Yes, it has a major role in preventing acne because it acts as a strong exfoliating agent and removes the clogged pores present in the skin. It reduces the chance of further breakouts and removes the dead cells from the top layer of the skin.

3. What is the Ph of salicylic acid?

It works best in a Ph between 3 and 4, so any product which does not adhere to this Ph is not that effective.

4. Which is better salicylic acid or glycolic acid?

Salicylic acid is better than glycolic acid because it has the tendency to penetrate deeper into the skin and can treat acne better. However, glycolic acid does not go much deeper but it is a much better exfoliating agent for the top layer of the skin. Glycolic acid is best for dry and aged skin whereas salicylic acid is best for oily skin and skin that is prone to acne.

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