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This skincare ingredient might be the secret to getting smooth skin

Acne getting you down? Read on

By ERIN COOK  June 2nd, 2017

Even for a seasoned skincare addict, the cosmetics aisles can be a battlefield. There are, quite literally, hundreds of products to choose from, all of which promise to make you look like Gigi Hadid.

One way to determine whether a serum/moisturiser/cleanser will suit you, is to look at the ingredient list. Seeing as we’ve already determined what vitamin C and hyaluronic acid can do for your skin, we thought we’d take a deep dive into the world of salicylic acid.

What is salycylic acid?

In short, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), closely related to aspirin and lactic acid.

What does salycylic acid do?

According to Dr Joseph Hkeik, from All Saints Skin Clinics in Sydney, “Salicylic acid is a really good exfoliant.” Not only that, salicylic acid also cleans the shit out of your pores, drawing out all of the built-up gunk below the surface.

acne breakouts

Who should use salycylic acid?

If you have acne, salicylic acid-based products are your new MVP. While most skin-types could benefit from a good exfoliation two to three times a week, salicylic acid is particularly useful for acne prone skin. “It’s a very good product for people who have acne because it exfoliates the top layer much more than anything else,” Dr Hkeik explains.

However, if your skin errs on the sensitive side, it’s best to introduce salicylic acid with caution. That’s not to say you should avoid it altogether. “People who have sensitive or reactive skin need to be careful,” says Dr Hkeik. “They can use it but as long as its baby steps.”

Salycylic acid for skin: How do I use it?


Mostly, salicylic acid is used in creams and cleansers, as part of an at-home skincare routine. Usually, salicylic acid should be one of the last on the list of the ingredients, as you only need a relatively small amount to see results. “When we put it in a cream it’s a small percentage,” Dr Hkeik explains. “So we can get the exfoliation process happening for oily skin.”

From: Elle Australia

All the reasons why your skin is breaking out 

Is your skin breaking out more frequently than usual? We got an expert to decode why that might be…


You are what you eat. And never have those words felt truer than when you consider the hormonal imbalances that processed milk and dairy products can unleash. Hello there, unexplained breakouts.

How do I solve this? This may require a sacrifice, but snip away all processed dairy products from your diet and your skin will feel the difference. 

Health supplements

That monster pack of whey protein that drained out your paycheque? We hope you held on to the receipt, because you may want a refund. Protein supplements can create a hormonal cascade internally, causing your skin to reciprocate with continual bouts of acne.

How do I solve this? Go a little easy on your skin and switch to completely vegetarian health supplements to avoid setting off a negative reaction.


There’s no good way to break this news, so we’ll just come out and say it: Your fancy cellphone could be adding to the acne party. If breakouts have been sprouting up only on one side of your face, there’s a good chance that the bacteria and sweat that your phone screen harbours have been mating with your precious skin cells each time you take a call.

How do I solve this? Your mom would probably recommend that your throw your phone in the bin and switch to postal communication only, but we’ll let you off easy: Ensure that you never rest your phone directly on your face and regularly wipe down the screen with a sanitary wipe. 


But you knew that already, didn’t you? That heavy coverage foundation is the equivalent of making your facial skin spend an hour on the benchpress. Just know that clogged pores result in acne breakouts, so you probably don’t want to toy with disaster.

How do I solve this? Switch to a diet of light coverage foundation, stat. Before adding any beauty products to your cart, always scan the label for a sign that says it’s non-comedogenic: A dermatologist’s guarantee that it won’t clog your pores. 


Back acne is usually attributed to hormonal imbalances, but the sweat that’s occluding your pores isn’t doing you any favours either.

How do I solve this? Back acne can be awkward to discuss, but treating it needn’t be. Use the same benzoyl peroxide face wash that you use on your face to regularly kick out the bacteria from your back. Stick to cotton fabrics to avoid aggravating the situation and if you’ve been sweating in the sun outdoors, carry a change of clothes to avoid prolonged contact with bacteria.


Yes, that pesky little nuisance isn’t limiting its tentacles to your hair alone. A good amount of the dandruff you hope to hide under an extreme side parting actually slides down to your face and wreaks havoc on your pores.

How do I solve this? Switch to an anti-dandruff shampoo the second you spot that first white fleck on your shoulder.