How Great Is Salicylic Acid For Your Skin?

Credit: Wochit
Published on June 6, 2019 - Duration: 00:30s

How Great Is Salicylic Acid For Your Skin?

According to Allure.com, "In the over-the-counter battle against breakouts, there are a few key players you should know about, and salicylic acid is at the top of that list.

Simply speaking, salicylic acid is one of acne's biggest enemies..." Experts say it can improve acne overnight if put on a blemish before bed.

It works because salicylic acid is an oil-soluble and can penetrate into the pores of the skin.

What is salicylic acid?

First off, let's establish what salicylic acid is.

It's a little complicated, but the exact structure of salicylic acid is important in explaining why (and how) it works so well.

When it comes to skin-care products, there are two classes of acids you'll see often: beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

"Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid," says cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller.

"[This] means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, as opposed to an alpha hydroxy acid where they're separated by one carbon atom." TRENDING NOW Huda Kattan's Glamorous Bathroom Tour Furthermore, salicylic acid is actually derived from willow bark, says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, and it belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates.

Are you still with us?

Good, because this is where it gets fun.

"This structure is important because it makes salicylic acid more oil-soluble so it can penetrate into the pores of the skin," Schueller says.

Both alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate the skin, but AHAs are water-soluble, while BHAs are oil-soluble, explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Sejal Shah.

Examples of AHAs, for reference, include glycolic and lactic acids.

"Generally, oil-soluble ingredients penetrate through the lipid layers between the skin cells more readily," Shah explains.

In other words, oil-soluble ingredients can penetrate the skin at a deeper level than their water-soluble counterparts.

Robinson sums up their differences succinctly.

"AHAs work well on the skin's surface to loosen old, dead skin and reveal fresh newer skin," he says.

"Salicylic

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