About Salicylic Acid

Acid. If the word takes you back to secondary school chemistry lessons, then you’re not alone. But acids are one of the super-ingredients of skincare and you don’t have to don a white lab coat and goggles to use them. Salicylic acid, in particular, is something you should be incorporating into your skincare routine if you suffer from problem skin.

Salicylic acid was first isolated from the bark of willow trees and in its natural state is a compound in many plants and fruits (like strawberries, blackberries and kiwis). It’s also a primary ingredient of aspirin. It can have anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes mildly anti-bacterial, meaning it’s found in many topical treatments for a number of skin conditions. As a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), it penetrates deeper than other types of acid, which is why it is especially effective for spot-prone skin.

On the skin, salicylic acid helps to regulate shedding of cells, acting as an exfoliant. By gently removing dead skin, it can also improve cell turnover. This wonder-ingredient breaks down fatty compounds, like oily sebum, and can directly dissolve keratin plugs, to help unclog pores. As many spots are caused by pores becoming clogged with debris, salicylic acid is effective at reducing spots and breakouts. Whilst this is clearly beneficial for oily skin types, its exfoliating effect can have a positive impact on skin of all types, refreshing the complexion.

This is an ingredient that should be handled with care. In too high a concentration, when applied directly onto the skin, salicylic acid can cause drying, redness and irritation. Luckily, salicylic acid is effective at low concentrations. It can be found in many blemish treatments, due to its efficacy.

The NEUTROGENA® Visibly Clear® Spot ProofingTM Smoothing Scrub combines salicylic acid with naturally derived exfoliators to defend against breakouts from first use without overdrying the skin.


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Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo is a medicine. Contains Neutar™ solubilised coal tar extract 20 mg/ml for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, scalp psoriasis and dandruff. Always read the label. UK/NT/19-14062

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