Salicylic Acid For Acne

One question that perplexes us is who should use AHAs and BHAs. There is a range of acids for skin care: salicylic acid, lactic acid, malic acid and many more. The question is, how do we choose among these?

For oily skin, it is usually suggested to implement BHA. Before delving further, what is a BHA, and how does it benefit the skin?

BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid. It is an effective skincare acid and is generally used as an exfoliant. This chemical exfoliant helps remove dull skin by breaking the bond of the dead skin with the healthier skin that is present underneath. BHA helps the skin in several ways. It can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, firm the skin, and restore hydration.

One such popular BHA is salicylic acid. In fact, people refer to BHA as salicylic acid due to its high prominence.

BHA salicylic acid serum

Salicylic Acid:

centuries back, salicylic acid was discovered from willow bark to treat specific skin issues. Later, the research found it helpful to exfoliate the stratum corneum(outer layer of the epidermis) and soften the skin. This ability of SA makes it a better peeling agent. Salicylic acid's comedolytic property, in specific, makes it an effective peeling agent for acne. Chemical peeling is a secure, efficient, and affordable procedure for treating various skin disorders and improving the appearance of the skin. Peeling is based on the concept of controlled chemical injury to the skin to stimulate rejuvenation, resulting in skin smoothening and betterment of skin surface texture. This injury does not mean any damage to the skin cells.

How does it work?

For people with oily skin, the skin cells that lie underneath the hair follicles of the skin replicate at a much faster rate. This replication leads to more cells that bind(corneocyte adhesion) together without gaps between them. Salicylic acid disperses the glue( lipophilic agent) that holds the cells in these pores(hair follicles) together. This causes the pores in the hair follicles to unclog, reducing the appearance of acne and blackheads. Moreover, salicylic is oil soluble and hence permeate deeper into oily skin. It has a unique structure that makes it a better soluble acid than the AHA.  Furthermore, by unsticking the cells from one another, dead skin cells can peel off rather than accumulate on the skin.

Benefits Of Salicylic Acid

Control Sebum Production

The major cause of acne is excessive oiliness caused by sebum overproduction. This is because excessive sebum production in your skin can cause pore-clogging and, as a result, aggravate acne.

Salicylic acid is said to minimise and control sebum production on the skin. Excess sebum production is caused by dehydrated and flaking skin to compensate for lack of hydration. This can happen when you use harsh face washes that take away all the oil and leave the skin extremely dry.

Exfoliant

Salicylic acid is a type of medication known as a keratolytic. Keratolytic medications soften the skin and help remove the dead skin cells on the surface. This skin layer detachment and removal serve as an excellent exfoliation session, resulting in unclogged pores and the revelation of bright, glowy, radiant skin. Salicylic acid is also lipophilic, which means it works great by penetrating clogged pores and oily skin.

Removes white and blackheads

Salicylic acid is best suited to treating blackheads and whiteheads among all types of acne. Whiteheads and blackheads develop when hair follicles get clogged with dirt, particles, oil, and dead skin cells.

When the whitehead opens up and is exposed to air, it darkens in colour, transforming the whitehead into a blackhead. As mentioned earlier, salicylic acid dissolves the keratin that binds the cells and hair follicles and will no longer result in blackheads.

Overuse of salicylic acid, like any other exfoliant, can cause increased drying, particularly on sensitive skin. It should be gradually incorporated into your skincare routine, just like any other acid to ensure that your skin does not react negatively. It has Low pH, so it is not available in concentrations greater than 2%. This is because it might irritate if used in more concentrations. Adding 2 drops of BHA Exfoliating Serum to your routine moisturiser helps regulate oil production and reduces acne.

Furthermore,  more importantly, you should be aware that applying large amounts of salicylic acid to large areas of your body can result in salicylate poisoning. Hence, it is better to use under doctor's advice.


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554394/

https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/beta-hydroxy-acids