A Complete Guide On Salicylic Acid

A skincare star known to diminish zits and acne, salicylic acid is a powerful exfoliant worthy of a spot in your beauty routine, especially if you have oily and acne-prone skin. However, it’s not exclusive to only skincare as it works wonders on the body and scalp. Let’s find out more.

What Is Salicylic Acid?

An oil-soluble beta-hydroxy acid or BHA, it is a chemical exfoliant that is commonly found in willow barks. It works by penetrating into the skin and dissolves dead skin cells that clog the pores. While it is commonly used in spot treatments and cleansers, salicylic acid works well in serums, toners, moisturisers, shampoos, masks, and body washes.


– Unclogs blocked pores: Works on blackheads and whiteheads by penetrating into the skin and loosens the ‘glue’ that causes skin cells to stick together. It also clears clogged pores.

– It’s anti-inflammatory: Prevents inflammation and redness caused to acne.

– Manages skin oil: The oil-soluble properties penetrate beneath the skin’s surface to remove excess sebum and oiliness.

– Helps in exfoliation: It acts as a chemical exfoliant due to its keratolytic nature, which sloughs off dead skin cells and encourages cell turnover.

– Scalp care: When used in less concentration, it can help reduce dandruff and add volume to hair.

Be Cautious


While this effective ingredient has multi-faceted applications, experts warn of side effects. “Over-exfoliation with salicylic acid can cause dryness and flaking, which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Dr Jaishree Sharad, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. She continues, “Avoid using micro-exfoliants like retinol and benzoyl peroxide with salicylic acid as it may cause irritation and burns.”

To amalgamate it into the beauty routine gradually, “start with 1 per cent salicylic acid once a day and make sure the product is pH balanced to inhibit tight skin. As your skin gets comfortable, take it up to 2 per cent,” says Dr Kiran Kaur Sethi, dermatologist and owner, Isya Aesthetics. For best results, cleanse your face with a humectant based face wash to prevent any residual dehydration.

Now that you know why salicylic acid is such a popular choice for staving off breakouts to battling scalp concerns, it’s time to get your hands on our recommendations.

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