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Everything you need to know about Salicylic acid

Everything you need to know about Salicylic acid

By Merna Al Murady | Pharmacologist
It is not for nothing that Retinol has gained so much traction (and popularity) in the beauty industry and in particular in anti-aging skin care.

If you struggle with pimples, blackheads or other types of skin impurities, then skin care products with salicylic acid may be the best solution for you. Salicylic acid has become more and more popular in skin care products and especially peeling products, and there is a very good reason for that. Salicylic acid is best known for its ability to cleanse skin impurities, remove dead skin cells, reduce pores and generally ensure a nicer skin.


  • Reduces sebum production in the skin
  • Stimulates cell turnover
  • Effectively removes dead skin cells
  • Cleanses the skin in depth so that pores are reduced
  • Gives the skin a fine and clear glow
  • Fights blackheads, pimples and oily skin
  • Softens the skin
  • What is salicylic acid?

    There is a sea of different acid ingredients in skin care products. The most used in skin care for home use are AHA and BHA.

    BHA, also known as salicylic acid, is an organic acid made from salicin, which is an anti-inflammatory agent extracted from the willow tree. Although the combination of acid and skin care may sound violent and perhaps put someone off, salicylic acid has been known for hundreds of years and is a popular ingredient in many cleansing and peeling products - and for good reason. Because salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), it works like a chemical peel, where it penetrates deeper into the skin's pores and is therefore able to clean the skin effectively.

    How does salicylic acid work?

    Salicylic acid is found in many care products such as creams, lotions, peeling and cleansing products, as salicylic acid acts on e.g. acne, warts, psoriasis and skin impurities. In addition, salicylic acid is used in anti-dandruff products, exfoliating creams and as an alloying agent in makeup.

    The use of salicylic acid is particularly widespread in products for the treatment of acne. Salicylic acid is slightly corrosive and can therefore dissolve and remove skin fat, pimples and blackheads very effectively. If you have problems with acne, it's because your skin's excess sebum (the natural oil), bacteria and dead skin cells all clump together into plugs that clog your pores. It creates inflammatory conditions in the skin and outbreaks of acne. Salicylic acid counteracts breakouts of impure skin and forces the skin to regenerate itself, so that it becomes softer, fresher and uniform. In other words, you get more beautiful and healthier skin with the help of salicylic acid's unique properties.

    Furthermore, salicylic acid acts antibacterial and therefore removes bacteria so that they cannot settle in the skin and cause irritation such as redness, pimples, blackheads and itching.

    The difference between BHA and AHA

    You may have noticed that some care products contain both salicylic acid (BHA) but also AHA. AHA is also an acid, but more precisely a fruit acid that refines and smooths the skin's surface while stimulating the regeneration of cells.

    What makes the difference between AHA and BHA is that salicylic acid (BHA) is fat-soluble and can therefore penetrate further into the skin and its pores, where dirt and dead skin cells dissolve. Salicylic acid thus works both on the skin's outer layer and deeper in the skin, and therefore works both from the outside and in - and from the inside out. AHA (the fruit acid) is water-soluble, and its effect works best on the surface of the skin, where it can be beneficial against acne, sun damage, wrinkles and pigment spots.

    Suitable for…

    • Acne skin
    • Skin impurities
    • Sensitive skin
    • Pigment changes


    First of all, it must be said that salicylic acid is not an ingredient you should use if there is no need. Follow the instructions on the product label and be careful not to overuse salicylic acid as this can lead to dryness and irritation. For most products, you should apply them once or twice a day to clean, dry skin.

    How long does it take to see results?

    4-6 weeks.

    Godt å vite

    Bruk alltid solbeskyttelse daglig, spesielt når du bruker eksfolierende hudpleieprodukter som salisylsyre. Solkrem beskytter huden din mot solens UVA- og UVB-stråler, slik at du unngår rødhet, arr og pigmentering - spesielt hvis du har pigmentflekker.

    Always use sun protection daily, especially when using exfoliating skin care such as salicylic acid. Sunscreen protects the skin against the sun's UVA and UVB rays, so you avoid redness, prevent scars and pigmentation - especially with impurities.

    Use of salicylic acid in skin care

    Salicylic acid is a popular and widely used product in many products within the skin care industry. And you can find a sea of salicylic acid products, including a salicylic acid cream, a salicylic acid serum and peeling products with salicylic acid. Here are some general guidelines for using salicylic acid:

    Always start with a low concentration. If you've never used salicylic acid before, start with a product that contains a low concentration (usually 0.5% to 2%) to minimize the risk of irritation. You can gradually increase your concentration over time as your skin becomes more tolerant.

    Salicylic acid cream

    Salicylic acid in creams and lotions helps the cream's moisturizing ingredients penetrate further into the skin, and dirt and dead skin cells do not affect the moisturizing effect.

    Salicylic acid in cleaning products

    Salicylic acid in cleansing and exfoliating products is a good choice for you who suffer from impure skin and acne skin. Because salicylic acid is an exfoliant, it's best to avoid using other exfoliating products, such as scrubs or other acids, at the same time.

    Salicylic acid in scrubs

    Salicylic acid in scrubs is a little harder on the skin than a peeling with salicylic acid. This is because a scrub has small grains that "grind" the skin. This removes dead skin cells, dirt and blackheads, while the salicylic acid cleans, disinfects and prevents skin impurities. Many are content with using a peeling or face wash containing salicylic acid, rather than a scrub.

    Salicylic acid in peeling products

    Salicylic acid in peeling products is particularly suitable for skin impurities, skin with larger pores and which has pigment shields. A salicylic acid peeling stimulates the skin and natural renewal. By peeling with salicylic acid, you can easily and effectively clean the skin in different depths and thus get a uniform and beautiful glow. Salicylic acid in peeling products is good for you with impure skin, enlarged pores and pigment changes. The salicylic acid peeling cleans the skin in depth, so you get a uniform and beautiful glow.

    Salicylic acid serum

    Salicylic acid in creams and serums gives the skin the best conditions for the moisturizing ingredients in the product to penetrate deep into the skin, because dirt, grime and dead skin cells do not block the moisturizing effect.

    Salicylic acid in hair care

    Salicylic acid has also found its way into hair care. As an ingredient in shampoo and conditioner, salicylic acid has a mild exfoliating effect, and is therefore good to use if you suffer from a dry and irritated scalp. Here, the salicylic acid enters and removes dead skin cells and causes dry skin flakes to loosen from the scalp, while softening the skin and promoting cell renewal.

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