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When it comes to skincare, there are two types of acids you’ll often see, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid derived from an acid called acetylsalicylic which is found in the rich bark of willow trees. As salicylic acid is a BHA, 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 which is separated from one carbon atom.
Both alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate the skin, however, AHA’s are water-soluble and can be more irritable to the skin. Whereas BHA’s are oil-soluble and can penetrate the lipid layers between the skin cells more readily and at a deeper level as opposed to its water-soluble counterparts.
BHA’s are used to treat acne-prone skin, blocked pores and breakouts because it’s able to slough dead skin from the surface. It also prevents pores from clogging which leads to congested skin. It helps to open the pores, dissolves the excess sebum and skin debris and consequently unclogs the pores, which further assists with bacterial infections and inflammations. Salicylic acid can penetrate the skin so deeply, it breaks down the connections between skin cells and once it’s penetrated, the acid part of the molecule dissolves some of the intracellular glue that holds the skin cells together.
Salicylic acid works as an exfoliant because it can loosen and break apart desmosomes, which are attachments between cells on the outermost layer of the skin. This action encourages exfoliation which also helps to unclog pores.
Salicylic acid is present in our range of anti-acne products alongside other effective ingredients including glycolic acid, retinol and more. PCA Skin incorporates salicylic acid into their products including the Blemish Control Bar. This solid cleansing bar is formulated with 2% salicylic acid and a high concentration of plant oils, which penetrates the skin to clear congested pores, shrink active blemishes and remove acne-causing bacteria. This highly active blemish-fighting cleanser reduces existing acne breakouts and also helps to prevent future breakouts. Excess oil is reduced without stripping the skin thanks to its soothing eucalyptus oil, whilst Azelaic Acid promotes an even skin tone.
Biretix also uses salicylic acid in their products including the powerhouse Duo Gel product. It’s a serum-like product that disrupts the formation of breakouts and loosens clogged pores to prevent and remove spots from every angle for clearer, spot-free skin.