What are its benefits for the skin and how to use it well


This ingredient, very present in cosmetics formulated in particular to fight against acne, has many advantages. Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, rebalancing… Here’s what salicylic acid is for and what you need to know to take advantage of its benefits.

Salicylic acid is originally derived from willow bark . But it is also present in many fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apricots as well as spinach, raspberries, grapes… Today it is the flagship active ingredient in cosmetics ! And for good reason, it has many therapeutic virtues for the skin.

What are the benefits of salicylic acid?

It is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), that is to say that it is known because it operates a keratolytic action, an action that promotes desquamation, the elimination of dead skin.  It can therefore be used in treatment such as psoriasis and scalp dandruff. It helps relieve pain, inflammation or even warts . It is also the original ingredient of aspirin. Little dosed, it thus helps to preserve certain cosmetic products.

When it is integrated more significantly into the formulas, it prevents the growth of fungi and bacteria and notably stops the proliferation of the micro-organism at the origin of the inflammatory reactions of acne such as papules and pustules.  Thus it helps to soothe the skin , calm pimples and reduce redness . It also controls sebum production, unclogs and tightens pores, prevents the appearance of new pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. It restores radiance to the complexion, reduces pigment spots and smoothes the skin. In short, it is a great asset for all skin types, especially those with acne.

Why is salicylic acid dangerous and when to use it?

Products that contain salicylic acid are photosensitizing , so it’s important to use it only at night and apply sunscreen daily. The risk: a skin reaction linked to exposure to the sun’s rays. In general, be careful if you have very sensitive skin, salicylic acid can irritate , do not hesitate to seek the advice of your doctor and scrupulously follow the instructions for use.

Of note, salicylic acid is controversial . It is singled out for being a potential endocrine disruptor , in particular by a team of Danish researchers. But according to the European Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (CSSC) in an opinion dated September 2018, “ salicylic acid does not pose a problem if it is used under the conditions of the regulations”.  To limit any risk, its concentration is limited to 2% in leave-in products in Europe and 3% in rinse-out products. It is not used in oral products, in preparations for children under 3 years of age, or in applications which may lead to exposure of the lungs by inhalation.

Where can you find salicylic acid?

It is possible to find salicylic acid in the following products:

Depending on the product, salicylic acid is dosed differently . It can be formulated at 0.5% when used as a preservative, 3% in shampoos, up to 2% in creams and serums. In the treatment of warts, it can be dosed at 50%, at 40% for the treatment of corns as well as at 30% in dermatological peels.

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