Salicylic acid is effective at reducing acne, sloughing off dead skin cells, unclogging pores and minimizing the appearance of pores thus improving the texture of the skin for that radiant, smooth skin that we are all looking for.
But these are only a few of the many benefits of salicylic acid.
So, what is salicylic acid?
While salicylic acid may sound harsh it is found in nature from willow bark, sweet birch, and wintergreen and has been approved as an over the counter topical treatment for acne-prone skin in concentrations up to 2 %.
Salicylic acid is a BHA also known as a beta hydroxy acid which is a topical chemical exfoliant used to slough of dead dull skin cells on the surface of the skin and an effective ingredient for acne-prone skin.
Salicylic acid has analgesic (pain-relieving) antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and lipophilic (oil-loving) properties making it a suitable BHA for oily skin types with blemishes and blackheads that may be more sensitive and inflamed than normal skin.
Benefits of salicylic acid for clogged pores
One of the unique benefits of salicylic acid is its lipophilic (oil-loving properties that allow it to penetrate deep into oily skin and clogged pores to reduce sebum build up and secretion to shrink pores and prevent future breakouts.
To fully understand how salicylic acid helps to prevent acne and shrink pores lets take a look at what causes oily skin, acne, and clogged pores.
An oily skin type has an over secretion of oils (sebum) from the sebaceous glands making an oily skin type prone to acne and clogged pores.
Characteristics of an oily skin type include:
- High levels of sebum production resulting in a shiny appearance on the surface of the skin
- Enlarged pores due to excess sebum build-up and secretions enlarging the pore
- Clogged pores resulting in blackheads, whiteheads or congested skin with sebum accumulating underneath a tightened pore
- Thickened skin and hyper-keratinized skin that results in an “orange peel” look due to skin cell build-up and stretched pores
Excess oil secretion in an oily skin type greatly slows down the sloughing off of skin resulting in dead skin cells build up on the surface of the skin causing a rough irregular texture.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that helps to exfoliate the top layer of the skin for a smoother and softer texture while also penetrating deep into the pore to break down excess oils and shrink the pore size.
Sebum is excreted by the sebaceous glands to help provide lubrication, softness, and protection but the overproduction of oil can contribute to clogged pores.
What causes acne?
Propionibacterium is an anaerobic bacteria that lives on the skin and is responsible for causing acne. These bacteria thrive in an environment with no oxygen thus a clogged pore is the perfect breeding ground for the P.acnes bacteria to multiply and cause acne.
Hyperkeratosis causes a build-up of cells on the inside of the walls of a hair follicle which is mixed with sebum to form plugs also known as blackheads.
Both the build-up of dead skin cells and overproduction of sebum along with p.acnes causes acne, clogged pores, blackheads, and whiteheads.
To prevent dead skin cells from building up salicylic acid is used as a topical BHA exfoliant to slough off the dead skin cells while penetrating deep into clogged pores to dissolve the excess oil and reduce the overproduction of sebum. The antiseptic properties of salicylic acid help to prevent future breakouts as well.
Salicylic acid for oily skin
One of my favourite moisturizers for oily skin is Insta Naturals Age Defying & Skin Clearing Serum as it is a light-weight serum with salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and unclog pores.
Often times oily skin is still dehydrated which is why I love this serum as it also contains the active ingredient hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin for luxuriously soft skin. Not to mention is has retinol and vitamin c to stimulate collagen production to prevent fine lines and wrinkles!
A person with an oily skin type has to be careful with what types of oils are used in their moisturizers and skincare products as many oils are comedogenic meaning likely to clog pores. One of the best oils for an oily skin type is jojoba oil found in this DIY face cream. Jojoba oil is one of the least comedogenic oils and closest to our body’s natural production of oil.
Often, when a new product is used such as salicylic acid the skin, can go through a healing phase where temporarily the skin may get worse as the impurities and excess oils are drawn out of the skin and broken down.
The average cell turnover of the skin in the dermal layer is 1 month so to see the benefits of salicylic acid it is best to wait one month as the salicylic acid will be working on exfoliating dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to stimulate new healthy skin while unclogging the pores to reveal fresh glowing skin with a smoother texture and reduction in the appearance of pores.
How to reduce oily skin through diet and nutrition
The skin is also a detoxification organ and if the liver and kidneys are overloaded with toxins the body tries to eliminate those toxins via the skin. Eating liver cleansing foods and an antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense diet whole food diet is an important aspect of obtaining and maintaining glowing skin.
I am an oily skin type and have had to work on my fat digestion and absorption which is connected to a sluggish liver and gallbladder. One of the best superfoods to cleanse the liver and gallbladder are beets!
Phosphatidylcholine which is produced internally via the PEMT gene plays an important role in making healthy cell membranes in all cells of the body including skin cells.
Phosphatidylcholine is also crucial for transporting fats out of the liver and keeping bile flowing out of the gallbladder for optimal detoxification. Oily skin and clogged pores are caused by an overproduction of sebum (oil) through the skin.
If a fatty liver is clogged with fats and not detoxifying effectively it can come out through the skin instead.
The best way to get healthy glowing skin is by using effective active ingredients such as salicylic acid while also working internally through diet and nutrition!