How Salicylic acid can come to the rescue for breakout-prone skin

Understand how Salicylic acid benefits breakout-prone skin…and how to incorporate it in your skincare routine with this Q&A. 

If you struggle with breakout-prone skin, you’ve probably come across the term “salicylic acid” in your how-to-banish-breakouts research…but do you know why and how it works? And if this Holy Grail ingredient is really worth all the hype? We’ve got the lowdown.

What is it?

Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring molecule derived from willow bark. The acid part of the molecule can break down the proteins holding skin cells together, allowing the product to exfoliate and remove impurities from the pores.


How does it benefit breakout-prone skin?

Once it penetrates skin, it dissolves the debris sitting in the skin’s pores as well as impurities on top of the skin, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It can penetrate so deeply into the skin that it can break down the “glue” (also known as desmosomes) between skin cells. It helps to: 

  1. Fight acne, blackheads and whiteheads. By unclogging pores, it removes the dead skin cells, debris and oil that leads to the formation of breakouts. No clogged pores = no blackheads and fewer breakouts.
  2. Reduce the skin’s natural oil production, which is essential to control breakouts as an over-production of oil is a leading cause of acne.
  3. Slough off dead and dry skin cells on the top layer of the skin which fights breakouts as it doesn’t allow pores to become clogged. This exfoliating action also leaves the complexion looking more radiant and allows products to penetrate deeper into the skin, thus performing better.

 Who can use salicylic acid?

It is particularly effective for breakout-prone skin, but its exfoliating properties generally makes it safe to use on all skin types. If you have cystic acne, it’s best to visit a medical professional who can diagnose the root of the problem and advise suitable treatment, as it may be caused by hormonal factors or P.acnes bacteria.

How to integrate it into your skincare routine:

It’s best to ease it into your regime by using it a couple of times per week, slowly working your way up to every day. Don’t be alarmed if you experience slight tingling upon the first application – this is normal and your skin will get accustomed to this new ingredient before you know it.


Here are our fave products to get your breakout banishing skincare routine started:


1. Cleansing: 

  • Clay texture: A salicylic acid cleanser is vital when you’re trying to combat breakouts. Creightons Salicylic Acid Clay Cleanser (R79.95) combines kaolin clay with salicylic and lactic acids to help absorb excess oil and maintain healthier, clearer looking skin every day. It has a clay texture which also helps manage excess oil production.
  • Gel texture: Try NIP+FAB Salicylic Fix Cleanser (R219.95), which gently cleanses and purifies the skin with salicylic acid to lift away dirt and impurities and allantoin to provide a moisture barrier and lock in hydration.


2. Exfoliation:

  • Granular exfoliator: Try NIP+FAB Salicylic Fix Scrub (R219.95). It contains salicylic acid to chemically exfoliate the skin and volcanic rock scrub to physically exfoliate, plus it is infused with lotus flower and vitamin E to avoid stripping the skin.
  • Chemical exfoliator: We love NIP+FAB Salicylic Acid Fix Night Pads (R349.95). Simply wipe one pad across your skin two or three nights a week to reduce breakouts and speed up the recovery time of existing breakouts. 


3. Treat:

If you have an existing blemish you want to treat, apply one of NIP+FAB’s Salicylic Fix Spot Patches (R169.95) directly over the blemish and leave on for a minimum of six hours. It contains a blemish fighting duo of salicylic acid and tea tree to effectively reduce and improve the appearance of blemishes. Each sachet offers two sizes to target your treatment, ensuring maximum coverage of the affected area.


4. Moisturise

A salicylic acid serum and moisturizer duo are the final steps in your breakout-busting routine. Creightons Salicylic Acid Face Serum (R109.95) is formulated with 2% salicylic acid to help reduce the appearance of blackheads, blemishes and pores for a clearer, more radiant complexion. Follow with Creightons Salicylic Acid Soothing Lotion (R74.95), a lightweight lotion that soothes and cares for angry, blemish-prone skin without clogging pores or being too heavy on the skin.


For more on beauty visit Get It Magazine.

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