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If you are here, reading this, congrats, you are about to get beautiful glowing skin in the comfort of your home. Firstly, I would like to remind you to go and read the last week’s article on the at-home usage of Glycolic acid. Because if you are trying these things for the first time, then you ought to know every type of acid and what they are used for, to choose the right one for you. Done? Great! Now let’s go into the fundamentals of treating your problematic skin with Salicylic acid.
How Does Salicylic Acid Work?
The reason why Salicylic acid is so effective is that it’s derived from Willow bark, and it is a constituent of the Beta Hydroxy Acid group (BHA). If you’ve seen DIY spot treatments on the internet including aspirin, it’s because this acid is its main constituent. Speaking of the function of Salicylic acid, it is a fat dissolver. This means that it breaks down lipids and oils/sebum and can be a great addition to your oil cleansing routine. This acid gets right into your pores which is the reason why it’s oh-so-good for clogged pores, blackheads, and acne.
The reason why this acid is preferred over glycolic is that it doesn’t increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Which means you can do it anytime, anywhere.
The Benefits of Salicylic Acid
- Helps clear and prevent blackheads, pimples/whiteheads, and cysts
- Also very beneficial in reducing acne scars
- Degreases skin and helps to balance oil production
- Dissolves the fatty glue between cells, exfoliating skin and opening pores
- The acid then neutralizes the bacteria inside – this reduces inflammation (straight away – very good for active, red pimples) and helps prevent further breakouts
- Helps with large pores by reducing/rebalancing oil production and improving skin texture
The rest of the problems it directly treats are:
- sun damage
- lentigines (liver spots)
- warts or excess dead skin buildup
- malassezia (pityrosporum) folliculitis, better known as “fungal acne.”
Buffered Vs. Unbuffered Salicylic Acid
Same as Glycolic acid, Salicylic can be buffered too (and it should be!) when used at home. This ensures a safe peel without the presence of a doctor. Buffering won’t make the acid treatment any less effective. This is needed to avoid any permanent damage to the sensitive skin areas.
Other than that, it will again cause peeling of the skin, unclogging pores, treating acne and all the rest of the previously mentioned benefits. Additionally, buffering provides a time-release quality to the product. This prolonged effectiveness is thought to give better long-term improvements.
How To Choose The Right Salicylic Acid?
- Look for trusted brands, and products you can find good reviews for (hint: scroll below!)
- Start with a 20% acid concentration and work your way up to 30% over time. Acids stronger than that can be very irritating in the beginning. After a while, as your skin gets used to it, and gets stronger, it can handle higher concentrations.
- Look for products that include full instructions, pH prep for your skin, a neutralizer and an acid reducer so that you have a safer, gentler peel.
How To Use An At-Home Salicylic Acid Peel
Frequent light peels are far more effective, not to mention safer. So if you have problematic skin that requires stronger treatment, start with a daily application of a lower dose. This will give you the same benefits but more efficiently, compared to using stronger concentrations and put your skin at risk.
The recommended peeling treatment is every 2 weeks, for 2 or 3 months, depending on where your skin is right now. The first peel will be for 1 minute. Notice how your skin reacts and increase at 1-minute intervals each time for a maximum of 5 minutes. This time frame of 2-3months will show great results – often after the very first treatment. The way to maintain results is by using Salicylic acid on a monthly basis of 20% – 30%.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED:
- Normal cleanser
- Rubbing alcohol (OTC 70%) or prep solution – this removes fats and oils from the skin allowing the peel to work optimally
- Small glass bowl and a fan brush/gauze pad to apply
- ½ cup baking soda in 2cups water (use your sink) – this is your neutralizing solution which is very important. You can buy specific neutralizers>>> but baking soda works perfectly. Have a soft cloth or cotton pads ready
- Vaseline – apply to eyebrows, lip area, and nostrils, you don’t want the acid touching those!
- A gentle, emollient-rich moisturizer to apply after (coconut oil is good as it also contains anti-bacterial properties)
- A timer/clock
- Cleanse skin normally and pat dry
- Apply the rubbing alcohol all over; this is important to de-grease skin which allows the acid to work
- Put a small amount of salicylic into the glass bowl and using the fan brush apply evenly to skin
- Another option is to use a gauze pad, soak it in the solution and apply like a toner. If you choose this method wear gloves!
- Be careful to avoid getting it in your eyes! Squeeze the brush/pad out on the side of the dish to avoid drips
- Apply in even strokes all over face– best to start on the t-zone and work out to cheeks, as this area tends to be oiliest
- Avoid the eye, lip and neck areas
- Start timing as soon as you apply that first stroke
- Watch your skin in the mirror as you leave it on for 1 minute
Best Salicylic Acid Products
There are thousands of Salicylic-based products out there, but not all are made the same. To help you with the choosing process, here I picked the top 2 Salicylic acid peels. One is 20% strength and the other of 30%. Just as I mentioned above, you need to start with a 20% solution and work your way up to 30%.
QRxLabs – 20% Salicylic Acid Gel Peel
This one is the only product I found not containing any irritating alcohol. Imagine my amazement! With this face peel, you will be getting a professional grade Salicylic acid gel made of tee tree oil and green tea extract. These two combined work wonders for detoxifying your skin on a deeper level and not leaving a trace of acne or blackhead.
INGREDIENTS: Distilled Water, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Propanediol, Polysorbate 20, Tea Tree Oil, Green Tea Extract, Xanthan Gum, Chamomile Extract, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Planet Eden – 30% Salicylic Acid Peel
The reason why I chose this one is that it again contains tea tree oil and green tea extract. Namely, we all know green tea is recommended when we want to cleanse our bodies from built-up toxins, and tea tree oil works wonders as an acne spot treatment with its high disinfectant properties. Fine lines and uneven skin tone will be gone in a matter of days after using this peel. This salicylic acid reduces inflammation straight away which is very good for active, red pimples and helps prevent further acne breakouts. You will experience a reduction in pore size and a thorough cleansing of clogged pores. Planet Eden peeling acids are known to treat aging skin, stimulate collagen and elastin production and give your skin a more youthful and younger look immediately.
INGREDIENTS: SD Alcohol, Propanediol EcoCert, Salicylic Acid Polysorbate 20, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel Oil, Citrus Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Lactic Acid.
Which is your pick so far? If you’re still unsure of using peels, read this in-depth guide on chemical peels and the best ones to purchase, and find out what your skin needs based on your skin type. If you already have some knowledge and experience on this, please share in the comments below so you can help other readers.
To Your Radiant Skin,