The best part of people becoming more in touch and concerned with skin is the vast amount of information that’s out there. This is not the wive’s tales of yesteryear, and we love learning! Here’s a snippet from a great article from Allure, addressing one of our favorites: Salicylic Acid.
Salicylic acid is one of acne’s biggest enemies. You grab for a product with it the second you see a zit invading your face. You slather it on a pimple at night and oftentimes in the morning your pimple is dried up and way less noticeable. But what exactly does salicylic acid do, and what kind of acne is it best for? We asked two top dermatologists and a cosmetic chemist to break down how salicylic acid works and why it’s such a popular choice for getting rid of breakouts.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, which makes it great at attacking pimples.
It’s a little complicated, but the exact structure of salicylic acid is important in explaining why it works so well. “Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, which means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, as opposed to an alpha hydroxy acid where they’re separated by one carbon atom,” says Randy Schueller, a cosmetic chemist in Chicago. Are you still with us? Good, because this is where it gets fun. “This structure is important because it makes salicylic acid more oil soluble so it can penetrate into the pores of the skin,” says Schueller.
It works by attacking your skin’s “glue.”
“Once it has penetrated the skin, the acid part of the molecule can dissolve some of the intercellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together,” says Schueller. In contrast, alpha hydroxy acids end up just exfoliating your skin when they touch the surface.