Sunday, 8 April 2012

First Ever Ingredient Watch: Salicylic Acid

Welcome to first ever instalment of Ingredient Watch. In today’s society we are becoming ever more aware of the ingredients we use in our beauty products. In these posts, I aim to bring my readers information about some of the common ingredients in the products we use, including their positive and negative effects. 

Important Note: Let me just preface this post by saying I am not a dermatologist or medical professional. Within this and all future posts discussing beauty product ingredients, my aim is to collate and summarise information and present it to my readers in a way that is accessible and informative. I will always use the most reliable sources of information available to me, and attempt to present it in an honest and unbiased way. If you feel that any of my posts have incorrect information, or you believe there is something important to add, please don’t hesitate to let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me at It is important to me that I get it right.

Today’s focus ingredient is Salicylic acid, a chemical commonly found in anti-acne products.

What does it do: Salicylic acid acts as a chemical exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores and blackheads, as well as an anti-inflammatory, reducing the swelling and redness associated with acne. 
It is also used in combination with other ingredients to soften or loosen the upper layer of the skin to improve the ability of additional ingredients to be absorbed.

The Good: It really does do what it claims to when it comes to exfoliating and reducing swelling.

The Bad: Use of products involving Salicylic acid may lead to dryness  (especially for those with already dry skin) and hair weakness, potentially resulting in temporary thinning or loss of hair over time.

Dangers: If used in high concentrations, Salicylic acid is capable of causing chemical burns. It has also been linked to tinnitus (ringing of the ears) and reversible hearing loss when ingested.
Although rare, allergic reactions are also possible.

Some Considerations When Using: In most countries, the concentration of Salicylic acid in over the counter products is regulated. Usually this is around 2% for products that are likely to stay on the skin for a period of time and 3% for those that will be immediately washed off.  Because of this difference in concentration, it is always advisable to follow the manufacturers’ instructions during use. If you experience any dryness, hair weakness or other mild reactions, reduce the frequency with which you are using the product. If you experience a stronger reaction, stop using the product and/or consult a dermatologist.

When Not to Use: Use during pregnancy is not advised, as the effect of topical Salicycilic acid products on pregnancy is unknown.

So, there you have it. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on Salicylic acid, and whether you found this post useful or informative. 


  1. Hi there, I am now following back from my Brightside Beauty blog hop:) Thanks for joining in. I love this post and idea! I am in school to be an esthetician and have learned so much about skin care and ingredients that I never knew and I love sharing the info I learn with others. I love that you mention this because I just recently stopped using my Clearasil daily wash that has 2% Salicylic acid because my skin was becoming so dry. It worked to keep my skin clear of breakouts but it was way too harsh. I changed my whole skin care routine and finally getting best results. Great info !!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I feel that knowing what we use in products makes it so much easier to be sure we aren't doing any harm and to choose products that are going to be effective. Unfortunately, it's also quite a hard thing to get on top of.


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