Is Salicylic Acid the Perfect Solution For Your Acne?


If you are dealing with acne, you will relate to having done the craziest stuff to get rid of it. Not proud, but we’ll have to admit that most of us end up popping, pinching and torturing the acne. With time and experience, you may realise three vital facts related to acne. 

  • To be patient 
  • Your acne doesn’t define you
  • All you need is the right product 

It is indeed true that the products consisting of the right ingredients can work wonders for you. One such ingredient that you may have noticed in several ads and skincare products is Salicylic Acid. It is considered a magic potion and a key player when it comes to acne. Now that you are all pumped up, please keep reading to know more.

What Exactly is Salicylic Acid?

From here, things tend to get a bit scientific, but don’t worry, we’ll try to break it down in a simple manner that is easy to understand.

There are two types of acids, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It exfoliates the skin and unclogs your pores to help reduce acne. Thus your skin appears smooth, radiant and soft.

Fun Fact

Salicylic acid comes from willow trees (bark). 

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

As it is oil-soluble, it can penetrate deep into your skin. It works by breaking down the oil and the bonds between the dead skin cells to help dissolve the dead skin and unclog the pores. 

What are the Different Forms of Salicylic Acid that are Available?

It is available as OTC or over-the-counter topical treatment, i.e. creams, lotions, gels, cleansers etc. Although you can get these at stores nearby, it is advisable to consult a doctor before using these products. 

Another form of Salicylic acid is in the form of a chemical peeling agent. Always look for a trained dermatologist who can carry out the procedure with utmost safety.

Side Effects of Salicylic Acid

  • You may face skin irritation if you have just started using it. 
  • There are chances of mild stinging and burning.
  • Your skin can become dry and peel.
  • You may face itching too. 

Precautions to Keep In Mind

  • Always consult with a doctor before using salicylic acid in any form. 
  • Inform your doctor if you are allergic to it or any other topical medication.
  • It also includes updating them about any medications that you are currently taking. 
  • Do not use salicylic acid on children, especially those under the age of two. 
  • You should also tell your doctor if you have medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, flu, liver disease and chickenpox. 

A Few More Important Tips Because Extra Safety Does No Harm

  • Take a patch test by applying the product to a small area to check for adverse reactions. 
  • Read the instructions on the label and use it accordingly. 
  • Protect your skin from the sun if you are using salicylic acid-based products. 
  • Do not use it frequently nor apply more than the required quantity. 
  • Avoid applying it to skin that is infected, has open wounds, is damaged or irritated. 
  • Ensure that the product doesn’t touch your mouth, eyes or insides of your nose. 

Summing Up

Salicylic acids can be beneficial to clear up acne, but the results may depend on your condition and skin type. Don’t be impatient, and expect to see clear skin instantly. It may take around 6-8 weeks or a bit longer for you to notice results. It is best to reach out to a dermatologist to check if salicylic acid is suitable for you or not. You can share your concerns and queries too. 


1. Is it safe to use salicylic acid every day?

It is safe to use it daily if advised by your doctor. If you are applying it for the first time, opt for a lower concentration, do a patch test of the product and observe for 48 hours. In case there is no itching, redness or irritation, you can use the products. Start from a few days in a week and then move up to using them daily if needed. It is best to avoid using it you have sensitive skin unless suggested by your doctor.

2. Which is better, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide?

Both are different compositions and have different uses. Since benzoyl peroxide is a medicated product, kindly do not use it without your doctor’s advice. 

3. How often can you apply salicylic acid?

Talk to a dermatologist who can suggest if you should ideally use salicylic acid or not. Simultaneously, she/he can share the correct quantity and frequency of applying it.

4. Can salicylic acid remove acne scars?

Yes, they can reduce and remove certain types of acne scars and spots. However, ensure to always check with your doctor before experimenting with salicylic acid for this purpose.



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Chaitali Nayak

A writer and a skincare fanatic, Chaitali believes that words and kindness can transform the world. She has a master’s degree in Advertising & Public Relations and has worked for various advertising agencies and digital marketing firms. With the help of expert dermatologists at CureSkin, she works towards creating content that helps eliminate misinformation related to skincare. The aim is to educate yet bring something exciting and new every time for the readers. When not busy writing, you can find her talking to her plants, eating, drawing or watching movies.