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Cult Beauty
Writer and expert1 year ago
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Salicylic acid is an ingredient that many of us will be all too familiar with from our teenage years (thanks a bunch, acne). But bitterness aside, there’s a lot to be grateful for when it comes to this miracle-working, blemish-busting ingredient.


A BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that occurs naturally in plants - particularly in willow tree bark - {salicylic acid} is best known for its {exfoliating}, pore-unclogging and bacteria-fighting powers.

In this guide we’ll share everything you need to know about salicylic acid, including what it does, its benefits, who it’s good for, and the best salicylic acid products to add to your {skin care} collection.



The benefits of salicylic acid are far-reaching, which is why it’s a firm staple in our skin care line up. Once applied, salicylic acid penetrates deep into pores and breaks up excess oil and dead skin cells, bainshing {blemishes} before they’ve had the chance to rear their unwanted heads.

It reduces sebum secretion (which is known to make the skin oily and shiny), and it also reduces inflammation and redness associated with certain types of blemishes.


And on top of all that, it can also be found in products that rejuvenate your skin - think of it as a super mild ‘chemical peel’ that’ll leave your skin looking clear and bright!


If you have {oily} and {acne-prone skin}, then salicylic acid is the partner in crime you’ve been looking for. It’s particularly effective for treating and preventing comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads), and it can also be used to treat cystic acne (those deeper, painful lumps), but you should consult your dermatologist first.


And what about those with skin at the other end of the complexion scale? Salicylic acid is drying, so if your skin is on the dry or sensitive side, take care to use it in moderation. Look for products with a lower concentration of salicylic acid (around 1%) and also keep an eye out for products that contain moisturising {skin care ingredients} too, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.


Products containing salicylic acid can be safe to use daily if you follow the product instructions, so long as your skin tolerates it. It’s generally a good idea to start using the product every other day, and then work your way up to daily use once you know your skin is happy with it.


Another important thing: the exfoliating effects of salicylic acid can leave your skin more vulnerable to UV rays, which is why most products containing this ingredient are designed to be applied at night. Make sure you take extra care when it comes to sun protection, and always wear {SPF} as part of your skincare regime.



You can find salicylic acid in cleansers, toners, oils, spot treatments…you name it! Here are 10 of the best salicylic acid products out there (lovingly selected by Syhem from the {Cult Concierge} team:

A match made in heaven for combination, oily and blemish-prone skin, the {FARMACY Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner with Moringa and Papaya}  from FARMACY provides impressive exfoliation and combats shine by drawing out excess oil, without stripping your skin. Powered by 2% salicylic acid, papaya enzyme and chlorella, this water-light salicylic acid toner works to purify your pores, refine your skin texture and reveal a radiant complexion. Here we glow!



Designed to fend off blemishes, blackheads and pore-clogging foes, the oil-controlling {Medik8 Press and Clear} from Medik8 has been expertly formulated with 2% BHA salicylic acid to help you uncover a clarified complexion. While buffing away dullness, this pH-balanced, kind-to-skin formula flushes your skin with next-level hydration. It’s sure to have everyone asking for your beauty secret!

A quick and convenient way to rejuvenate your complexion, the {Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel} two-step peel from Dr. Dennis Gross instantly improves luminosity and, with regular use, lessens the depth of fine lines, reduces the visibility of pores and alleviates redness. How, I hear you ask? The peel combines *five* AHAs and BHAs (salicylic, glycolic, lactic, citric and malic), plus retinol and vitamin C, to simultaneously smooth, refine and protect your complexion. They sound strong, but these age-reversing pads are suitable for all skin types (including sensitive!) and won’t cause any discomfort or unsightly ‘shedding’.



Here to give your skin an extra nudge in the glowing direction, this {BHA and Bakuchiol Blemish Recovery Booster}  from PSA is saddled with a unique blend of ingredients and properties to get to the root of your skin's im-pore-fections. This brightening cocktail consists of 2% salicylic acid, 1% bakuchiol, 2% zinc, youth-boosting willow bark extract and ultra-soothing licorice root to restore your once-luminous complexion, with hyaluronic acid and black cumin oil to help with hydration and all-round radiance!



For breakouts in hard-to-reach areas, this ingenious salicylic acid-infused {Clarifying Body Spray} from Murad is set to become your right hand (wo)man. With a 360˚ nozzle that works upside down, it’s great for those bothered by ‘bacne’ who’re eager to calm inflammation, accelerate healing and prevent those unwelcome eruptions. Pssst – it’s also ideal between waxes to ward against ingrown hairs!



A must-have for scalps in need, Virtue's {Refresh Exfoliating Scalp Treatment} is a luxe, salicylic acid-based treatment that gently sloughs away dirt, product build-up and dead skin cells. By unclogging pores and optimising follicle growth and stimulation, it leaves you with a cleaner and more hydrated scalp – with healthier feeling hair, too!



Blemishes just met their match in the form of MALIN + GOETZ’ {10% Sulfur Paste} – a hardworking spot-reducing formula that dries out, exfoliates and heals spots overnight. 10% active sulphur fights and reduces blemishes, salicylic acid exfoliates and clear impurities, zinc oxide helps prevent scarring, and organic camphor helps restore calm and balance. A one-stop shop for blemish-busting!


In search of a potent blemish-clearing treatment that also delivers on skin-smoothing, brightening and evening properties? Look no further than the {Silver Skin Tonic} from Omorovicza. This targeted solution harnesses the power of antibacterial and skin-healing colloidal silver, brightening niacinamide and pore-purging salicylic acid to leave your skin clear, calm and collected (with a more youthful appearance – hooray!).



Three cheers for ZitSticka! The ingenious {Clarifying Microdart Patch Kit} are the 21st Century equivalent of a knight in shining armour, on hand to save the day with their spot-disrupting powers! Designed for deep, upcoming spots in their early stages, each patch has 24 microdarts (don't worry, they don’t hurt!) to allow a potent potion of ingredients to enter and work beneath the skin’s dead skin cell layer – clever, huh? The patches are discreet and easy-to-wear – whether that’s on your morning commute, overnight or while getting ready for a night to remember…

Naturally purifying and blissfully refreshing, the {Vinopure Purifying Toner} from Caudalie is formulated with 100% natural salicylic acid, antioxidant, age-defying grape polyphenols, organic rosewater and antibacterial organic essential oils of rosemary and peppermint to purify skin and battle blemishes without drying it out. Enjoy a light, surprising breath of freshness with each application!




Cult Beauty
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