SALICYLIC ACID: What is it and how does it works?

what salicylic acid is

You’re sure to have heard about this effective ingredient: salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is a substance which is prolific in nature, and it can be found in many plants and fruits. The highest concentration of salicin is found in white willow bark. This substance has many uses, but it is mainly used in cosmetics to combat blocked pores and bacterial growth.

It is essential for treating acne, blackheads, excess oil and impurities. It improves the appearance of the skin, preventing and reducing blemishes, achieving soft, smooth skin.

The salicylic acid molecule is found in the family of beta hydroxy acids which, unlike the better known alpha hydroxy acids, is liposoluble, so it can penetrate the pores by cleaning them from the inside, as well as providing gentle surface exfoliation. If you’d like to know more about alpha and beta hydroxy acids, you can read this article about them on our blog.

What properties does salicylic acid have?

Salicylic acid has antiseptic, antibacterial and keratolytic properties. This means that it prevents the growth of bacteria that proliferate when there is excess sebum, grease or impurities on the skin. These bacteria inflame the skin, and this is when they cause acne.

Keratolytic properties: These aid in the elimination of the most superficial layer of the skin, made up of dead cells, creating an effective peeling effect that renews the skin, leaving it healthy and radiant.

Antibacterial properties: Salicylic acid promotes antibacterial activity on the skin by eliminating the microorganisms that cause acne.

Anti-inflammatory properties: It helps to reduce inflammation of skin breakouts and helps any wounds to heal more quickly.

Who should use it?

Without a doubt, salicylic acid is a key cosmetic substance for treating oily or acne-prone skin, because it facilitates exfoliation, preventing blocked pores. Therefore, if you are of those people who, despite having a proper beauty routine, have large pores and need to clean your skin very regularly, salicylic acid will be a good ally to keep blackheads, pimples and shine under control.


This substance is safe if used in moderation on all skin types. Particularly in the case of people with more sensitive skin, as they may experience some side effects, such as erythema or redness. A forearm test should be performed before using it on the face. If it is well tolerated, progressively add it to your routine. Start by applying the product 3 times per week and then slowly increase the frequency of application to twice per day, if necessary.

Although salicylic acid has been considered a possible cause for making skin more sensitive to the sun, increasing numbers of sources now mention that, at low doses, it could to a certain extent protect your skin from UV rays. Despite this, daily use of sunscreen is highly recommended.

The maximum percentage of salicylic acid permitted in cosmetics by European law is 2%.

Which Labelist products contain salicylic acid?

Our Salicylic serum contains 2% salicylic acid.

Benefits of Salicylic serum:

  • It removes impurities and sebum excess.
  • It maintains good skin appearance without excess shine.
  • It helps to minimise the appearance of pores.
  • It repairs and strengthens the skin as it is enriched with niacinamide, ectoin and minerals such as magnesium, copper or zinc.
  • It does not contain alcohol, so it does not dry out or irritate the skin.
  • It helps you to avoid infections caused by minor skin breakouts or attacks.
  • Ideal for acne-prone skin.

Want to know more? Visit the Labelist Cosmetics Ingredients Glossary to see all the benefits of the substances used in our cosmetics.

Email us for more questions. We will be glad to help you in your skin routine.

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