Salicylic acid – first aid for acne and other skin problems

Last updated: 30/11/2022

Do you just dream of soft, clear skin? Perhaps salicylic acid is your best helper to make the dream come true. 

If you do not know this popular skin-care ingredient, then pay attention and find out what salicylic acid is, and how it can help you and your skin. 

Read by Anne Thestrup Meimbresse

Anne, Varde Pharmacy
Anne has a MSc in Pharmacy from the University of Southern Denmark and has worked as a pharmacist at the Varde pharmacy for several years. Here she advises both costumers and doctors about the correct use of medical products.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is an organic acid made from salicin, which comes from willow trees. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and is a beta hydroxy acid – abbreviated as BHA

Salicylic acid and BHA are different from the associated AHA. 

Know the difference between BHA and AHA

As a BHA, salicylic acid is fat-soluble, and penetrates deeply into the pores of the skin. BHA is effective on both the outer and inner layers of the skin, and therefore works from inside and outwards. 

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid, including lactic acid and fruit acids. Where BHA is fat soluble, AHA is water-soluble. This means that it works best on the surface of the skin, where it enables the skin to absorb moisture better from creams and other skin-care products. 

What is salicylic acid used for?

Salicylic acid is a real wonder cure in skin care. It is a popular ingredient because of its beneficial effects on skin:

  • reducing sebum, the natural oil in the skin 
  • stimulating cell turnover
  • effectively removing dead skin cells
  • cleansing deep down, so that pores are reduced 
  • giving the skin a fine, clear glow
  • combating blackheads, spots and greasy skin
  • softening the skin

First aid for hard skin on hands and feet 

Do you suffer from hard skin on your hands and feet? Do you have a painful corn, which stabs like a knife with each step you take? 

Australian Bodycare’s Corn Stick is specially formulated to reduce and prevent hard skin and corns. It can be used on any part of the body, but is especially suitable:

  • if you train and lift heavy weights that give hard skin on the hands
  • have trouble with hard skin after gardening 
  • are troubled by painful corns 

Corn Stick is effective for hard skin and corns because it contains salicylic acid, which softens and breaks down hard skin – and you can therefore get rid of painful corns. 

The active ingredient in the product is Tea Tree Oil, which ensures at the same time that bacteria do not settle on the skin and irritate the dry, hard skin. 

Apply Corn Stick with the practical roll-on directly on the affected area, where you have a corn or hard skin. Use the product four times a day to deal with the problem most effectively. 

Note, however, that it takes time to get rid of hard skin and corns completely. You will have to be patient when you treat the problem. 

How fast you will feel the soothing effects will depend first and foremost on how seriously you are affected. In many cases you will see a positive effect after four or five weeks, but it may also take longer.

Results after using a Corn Stick for 4 weeks

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Give yourself the best chances of soft skin in balance 

Salicylic acid is popular, and is used in many products in the skin-care industry. You can find a multitude of products with salicylic acid, including a salicylic acid cream, a salicylic acid serum and peeling products with salicylic acid.

Peeling products with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid in peeling products is good for those with acne, blocked pores and changes in pigmentation. Peeling with salicylic acid will cleanse the skin deep down, and give you a fine, even glow. 

Serum and cream with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid in creams and serums provides the best conditions for the moisturising ingredients in the product to penetrate deep into the skin, because dust and dirt and dead skin cells cannot block the moisturising effect. 

How does salicylic acid work? 

Salicylic acid has a unique ability to penetrate deep into the skin, where it cleanses and dissolves the ‘glue’ that makes dead skin cells stick together and block the pores in the skin. This makes salicylic acid particularly effective against acne

Problems with acne are caused by excessive sebum (the natural oil) in the skin, and bacteria and dead skin cells sticking together in plugs that block the pores. The result is inflammation in the skin and outbreaks of acne. 

Salicylic acid prevents outbreaks of skin problems and forces the skin to regenerate itself, so that it becomes softer, smoother and more even. In other words, the unique properties of salicylic acid help you to have healthier and more beautiful skin. 

Is it safe to use salicylic acid? 

Acid sounds strong and harsh in many people’s ears, perhaps like something you should keep well away from sensitive skin. All the same, you can be confident about using salicylic acid in skin care if you want a lovelier, more even skin without blocked pores and inflamed spots. 

Salicylic acid contains active substances without sharp grains, and therefore exfoliates the skin gently – with no risk at all of scratching the skin surface. 

A concentration of 2 % is permitted in over-the-counter skin-care and beauty products in Denmark – so if that percentage is declared on your product, you need have no worries about using it in your skin-care routine. 

Keep an eye on how your skin tolerates it 

If you find your skin is very sensitive, you should go carefully. That is to say you should perhaps not use products with salicylic acid every day, but maybe every other day or a couple of times a week, so that you do not overdo your care for sensitive skin. 

Keep an eye on how your skin reacts to the product. That is really the best indicator of how the treatment is working on your skin. Follow the instructions on the product and respect any signs from your skin that you should take a break. 

During pregnancy it is always best to consult your doctor before using a product containing salicylic acid. Skin may be more sensitive during pregnancy, and there may be factors you should be extra careful about while carrying an unborn child. 

FAQ about salicylic acid 

What is salicylic acid? 

Salicylic acid is an organic beta hydroxy acid extracted from willow bark, and it has an anti-inflammatory effect. 

What is salicylic acid used for? 

Salicylic acid is used in a multitude of skin-care products in the beauty industry – from creams and lotions to peeling and serums. It is an ingredient that helps with problems such as acne, blocked pores, hard skin, pigment changes and uneven skin tone. 

How does salicylic acid work? 

Salicylic acid works especially well by cleansing the skin deep down. It does this by dissolving the glue that causes sebum and dirt to form plugs in the pores, resulting in skin problems and greasy skin. 

Is it safe to use salicylic acid?  

Salicylic acid is not dangerous in use, provided you stay within the permitted concentration of 2 % in over-the-counter products. If your skin is very sensitive, you can keep a careful eye on how it tolerates salicylic acid, and respect any signs that you should take a break. If you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before using the products. 

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Corn and callus removal stick with softening and nourishing ingredients

£10.99