What is Salicylic Acid?
The word acid is frightening, isn’t it? Don’t be afraid of it. Just think about lemon juice for example. It’s acidic, right? That doesn’t prevent you from adding it to your favorite beverages or vinaigrettes. We gathered the following information to help you shed some light on this ingredient that has been used by estheticians for over 50 years.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) obtained from the bark of the white willow and wintergreen leaves. It is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating properties. It’s also used to make aspirin.
How does it work?
The use of BHAs triggers the production of intercellular lipids, which results in smoother-looking skin. Wait! What? Intercellu-what? Ok! Ok! Let’s break this word down before we go any further. Inter (between) - cellular (cells) - lipids (fatty acids). Intercellular lipids (fatty acids between cells) are responsible for the hydration and appearance of the skin. As we age, the production of intercellular lipids diminishes, which explains why our skin becomes dryer. Still following?
Is it just for acne?
Using salicylic acid to exfoliate will improve the skin’s texture, even skin tone, lighten hyperpigmentation (dark spots), reduce wrinkles, unclog pores, etc. There’s a misconception that salicylic acid is beneficial for acne skin only. While BHAs are often found in acne products, those concerned with aging skin would also benefit from a cleanser (like The Bare Bar) containing salicylic acid, as it helps with cell renewal. Acids like BHAs loosen up buildups of dead skin cells in the follicles, leaving the skin feeling healthier and clearer.
I have sensitive skin. Can I exfoliate?
When dealing with sensitive skin, the main objective is to avoid stimulation and physical exfoliants (like scrubs) that would further irritate the skin. Using chemical exfoliants (like BHAs) in small doses allow those with sensitive skin to gently exfoliate the dead cells without over-stimulating their skin. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that will help reduce redness. BHAs should never be applied to the skin undiluted.
The downside with using natural ingredients (even those that appear to be the safest) is that they aren’t appropriate for everybody. There will always be someone allergic to any given ingredient. If you are allergic to aspirin, for instance, you should avoid using products containing salicylic acid. If you think you’ve had an allergic reaction to a natural ingredient (symptoms may include: severe redness, itching, swelling, etc.), it’s best to consult with your medical professional.
That’s a tricky question. Some of our Licensed Esthetician’s clients exfoliate once a week, while others can do it every day. Her rule of thumb is this: if you notice excessive dryness or redness, especially near the orbital bones, you might want to take it easier. If you were exfoliating once a day, for example, reduce the frequency to 2-3 times per week until your skin appears smoother.
Winter is a great time to book a facial. Estheticians have the ability to perform a deeper exfoliation and customize treatments that will help you achieve the best results for your skin. Did you exfoliate today?