It’s been a long time since an Ingredients Explained post! But I really want to get back to bringing some science into my blog and I think bringing this back is a good start. I also have some marketing busted posts coming up – as some marketing ads are just ridiculous when you think about them from a scientific perspective so look out for those.
Now, onto salicylic acid – I wanted to do a post about this as it is a common ingredient but not one which many people understand. When you first hear salicylic acid you presumably think about its anti blemish properties but it does this in different ways which affects your skin natural balance.
So what is salcylic acid?
It is an acid! Well technically a beta hydroxy acid, it was originally isolated from willow trees as it is a plant hormone. It is one of the active ingredients in aspirin for it’s pain reliving and anti inflammatory properties. Nowadays it is manufactured rather than extracted from tree cells!
And what does it do?
Salicylic acid is an awesome product (in small quantities!), it has several functions when put on skin. First, it acts to remove the outer layer of the skin – even though you can’t see it there is a lot of dead skin which sits on your face, sometimes when this builds up, it will block the skin underneath and cause clogs and a place for bacteria to grow. This acid sloughs off these cells (and in high quantities is even used to burn off warts!).
On top of that, the acid widens pores, unclogging the oil within them, most like using it’s anti inflammatory properties. It not only opens the pores but keeps them open so may have a dilating effect. This helps keep the pores from clogging and gives you less spots! On top of this, being a corrosive acid means that it kills any bacteria on your face, which is a huge part of causing spots – getting into your pores, causing a reaction and a spot suddenly appears!
This three pronged approach makes salicylic acid an amazing product and is why it is so popular and found in a whole range of face, body and hair care products.
Why do I need to be wary about it in products?
However, even though I sing it’s praises above. Salicylic acid should only be used if you have blemish prone skin! It works well at clearing the skin, but for those who are past that stage or have more normal skin should stay away – the sloughing, widening of pores and stripping effect of the acid can damage the skin. It can increase our pore size (which no one wants if they can help it!) and can really irritate the skin of some people.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about salicylic acid and whether you should be using it!
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