There’s no shortage of great acne treatments on the market, ranging from basic creams and cleansers to potent face masks and peels. When shopping for acne treatments, you may find salicylic acid to be a common ingredient in many products. Salicylic acid is designed to correct the abnormal shedding of skin cells. It can also help unclog pores to prevent a buildup of harmful bacteria on the skin.

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic or peeling agent that causes the outer layer of skin to shed. When used topically, this versatile acid is effective in treating many skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis. Salicylic acid works by softening a protein known as keratin which makes up part of the skin’s structure. When applied to the skin, it helps to loosen dry or scaly skin, making it easier to reveal new, healthy skin underneath.

How Does It Help Acne?

Salicylic acid is recognized by the FDA as an effective acne-treating ingredient. While it is typically used to treat mild to moderate acne, it has also been found effective in treating post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation for a clearer complexion. When used on a continuous basis, salicylic acid can help minimize a buildup of dirt and oils on the skin and prevent a buildup of irritants that can contribute to breakouts. Salicylic acid can be found in cleansers, lotions, moisturizers, and other topical products. These liquid solutions can be applied directly to the skin without scrubbing which reduces the risk of breaking blood vessels or rupturing pores.

Most topical acne treating products containing salicylic acid have a concentration of just three to six percent. Only a small amount is needed to treat the skin. Too much and you risk damaging the delicate skin tissue. When used as instructed, a skincare regimen containing salicylic acid can help you achieve a flawless complexion.