Salicylic acid is a natural substance that can be obtained from willow or birch bark. Ground bark is treated with oxidants and later filtered to produce salicylic acid as a white crystalline powder. This acid can be also produced synthetically from a derivative of the acetylsalicylic acid. Both versions are used in the cosmetic and medical industries.
Characteristics of Salicylic Acid
The effects of salicylic acid on skin and hair vary depending on its concentration. Small concentration promotes skin growth, whereas higher concentrations facilitate its exfoliation (which can be used for psoriasis or acne) or even dissolution (used for warts). Salicylic acid is an important ingredient in products aimed at problem and acne-prone skin because of its ability to reduce sebum production and clean the skin.
Effects of Salicylic Acid on Skin
- Unclogs pores and prevents blackheads from forming.
- Deeply cleans the skin and facilitates the regeneration of small wounds left after acne.
- Disinfects skin.
- Combats hormonal imbalance that causes acne.
- Softens hard skin and stimulates blood circulation.
- Increases collagen production and skin firmness, fills in skin defects.
- Has exfoliating effects, thus increasing the effect of other cosmetic products.
- Unifies skin tone and soothes irritated skin.
Effects of Salicylic Acid on Hair
- Very effective against dandruff, takes care of oily scalp.
- Penetrates the skin, cleans it, and creates a protective barrier against harmful external factors.
Cosmetic Products with Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a safe compound which takes care of oily and acne-prone skin. It is also a highly sought-after cosmetic ingredient which helps remove excess sebum better than other natural substances.
In the summer months, use salicylic acid cream, cleansing toner, or other products with this ingredient only before bedtime, because it makes your skin more susceptible to damage caused by sunlight.
If you’re thinking about trying a salicylic acid gel, salicylic acid shampoo, or salicylic acid face wash and skin care for acne-prone skin, choose products with acidic pH (4 or lower), because those are capable of sufficiently opening and cleaning clogged pores.
The concentration of salicylic acid should be between 0.5 and 2% of acid. Leave-on skin-care products can contain up to 2%, leave-in hair care can only have 1%. If salicylic acid is used as a preservative, its concentration should not be higher than 0.5%. If you have dry and sensitive skin, you should choose products with low concentration to prevent irritation and excessive dryness.
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