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Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid, pronounced as ‘sally-sillic’, is a beta hydroxy acid. You may have heard this being abbreviated to ‘BHA’ and wondered what the heck it stood for! Another abbreviation you may have heard is ‘AHA’ which stands for ‘Alpha Hydroxy Acids’. 

AHA and BHA are organic acids that are used in skin care. BHA’s like Salicylic acid, are better for oily skin types or acne prone skin. This is due to BHA’s being more soluble in oil than in water. AHA’s are better for treating sun damaged skin and sun spots.

So back to Salicylic acid specifically! I wanted to write a blog about this as it is a key ingredient that is added into a major amount of premium and drugstore skincare at the moment and it could be confusing as to whether you need it or not!

Salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin and has antibacterial properties. It is mainly used as a non-beaded exfoliant ingredient to unclog pores. It dissolves keratin and regulates skin cells. Due to its ‘stripping power’ it is really important to try and use in the evenings. If you do use it in the morning you will need to use a high SPF to protect your skin throughout the day as you will have just removed your skins first layer of defense which is usually made up by a thin layer of dead skin cells. 

Not only is it a great product for targeting acne prone skin, black heads and white heads, but it can also fade dark spots and discolouration like melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (discolouration left after a spot goes.) If it is only the dark spots that is an issue then AHA’s would target this skin problem better. 

The strength of the ingredient is important to note and gradually building up your usage is critical. Anywhere between 0.5% and 2.0% is safe to use. Overuse can cause mild stinging and skin irritation. Salicylic acid should not be used by pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding.

Hopefully this has helped you understand Salicylic acid and analyse if it is something you feel you need in your skin care regime or not. Here are some products I would recommend.

Nip & Fab have recently released multiple skin care ranges specialising in power ingredients. Their teen range is the Salicylic acid range. They are all cruelty-free products. If you are environmentally conscious maybe avoid the pads and face masks as they are one use only products.


My new favourite versatile skincare range Paula’s Choice have a great collection of BHA products with sample products you can order and try. This is also a cruelty-free company.

The Ordinary have a great skincare range that is cruelty-free with 2% salicylic acid. 

*If you have any skin concerns please speak to a dermatologist before using Salicylic acid.

4 thoughts on “Salicylic Acid

  1. […] they do improve the appearance of photo-aged skin. Tretinoin can be used with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for additional skin-smoothing […]

  2. […] ideal treatment to help soothe and clear your breakouts in a hurry. Formulated with spot-fighting Salicylic Acid, Zinc Oxide and Calamine, breakouts are targeted and skin is soothed.’ My thinking was that the […]

  3. Salicylic Acid article is very useful and well researched.

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    🙂 Be beautiful, you deserve!

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