Salicylic Acid is a beta- hydroxy compound unlike glycolic acid that is an alpha hydroxy compound. This is important to know because the structure of salicylic acid makes it better at treating your acne. This structure of Salicylic acid makes it more oil-soluble helps in going deep into the pores to treat the damaged areas and those especially affected by acne.(1)


The chemical part of the compound helps in loosening the skin cells that are causing acne. The thing with acne is that these skin cells don’t behave normally. Instead of falling into the normal skin cycle of the skin and withering away, they tend to stick together and block pores causing more acne and whiteheads. Thus salicylic acid works by breaking that bond between these cells and curing your acne.

Not only this, it is also considered to be extremely good in terms of exfoliating.  The acid works by exfoliating your skin and removing the top layer that has been infected by bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells. It’s considered to be one of the most important treatments for acne on oily skin. The exfoliating aspect of this also helps in the absorption of other active ingredients that you might be using for your skin.(2)

As salicylic acid goes deep into the pores, what it essentially does is provides moisture that can dissolve or loosen the affected skin cells, thus it also helps in rejuvenating the skin and making way for new skin cells.

Salicylic acid can also give your skin cells a deep cleaning as well. This is possible because it helps in dissolving the attachments between the skin cells. With this process salicylic acid exfoliates and unclogs the pores, thus giving your skin cells a thorough cleaning. Along with this Salicylic acid can also reduce the sebum secretion, with this it also helps with acne.

Another factor which it helps is warts and corns that are usually found on the feet. It’s considered to be keratolytic which means that it helps in these warts naturally peeling off, it achieves this by loosening the cells that are stuck together and dissolving them.(3)


However, there are a few precautions that you might have to keep in mind when you choose to use salicylic acid. (4)

  1. Pregnant women should stay away from this.
  2. People on medication should also be careful when they use this, it’s also best to consult your doctor.
  3. If you have dry skin also it’s probably better to stay away for salicylic acid. This is because one of the negative effects of salicylic acid is the fact that it irritates and dries up your skin to an extent.
  4. Avoid contact with your eyes.
  5. You cannot use it on warts on or around the face.
  6. Keep it away from children.
  7. Do not use it after shaving or waxing
  8. Refrain from using it if you have hypersensitive skin.
  9. Do not use near or around your genital regions as well.
  10. Do not use on open wounds or irritated skin.

Side effects

Salicylic acid might cause slight peeling and burning on your skin, although to what extent this is alright is up to your doctor who prescribed this to decide. There are usually no severe allergic reactions to this, if any are seen then it’s best to visit your doctor.

Why is Salicylic acid used in face washes?

Salicylic acid is used in face wash because it helps in cleaning and exfoliating the skin, and is good when you need to treat acne.

Is Salicylic acid good for hair?

Yes, Salicylic acid is good for the hair, in moderate amounts, as it helps reducing dandruff by controlling the sebum levels on your scalp.

Is Salicylic acid good for aging skin?

Yes, salicylic acid is good for aging skin, it helps in rejuvenation

Is Salicylic acid effective for warts?

Yes, it is effective on warts. It’s considered to be keratolytic which means that it helps in these warts naturally peeling off, it achieves this by loosening the cells that are stuck together and dissolving them.

Is Salicylic acid good for oily skin?

Yes, it is good for oily skin as opposed to dry skin because one of the downfalls of salicylic acid is that it could irritate and dry your skin, and if you have oily skin this wouldn’t be a problem.

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