Salicylic Acid: All The Properties Of The Skin

Salicylic Acid Is An Ancient Panacea That Is Also Good For The Skin

Salicylic acid is one of the most used cosmetics due to its exceptional qualities. As you may already know, it is a substance widespread in nature and present in many plants and some fruits. However, the highest concentration of salicin is found in white willow and spirea ulmaria, which were already extracted in ancient times. Initially, the properties of salicylic acid were used against fever and inflammation. Hippocrates had already identified its extraordinary characteristics, making willow bark chewed to treat various pathologies.

However, the first real scientific studies on this substance were conducted late, towards the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, its marketing has continued. What is the difference between the two acids? Acetylsalicylic acid is produced from salicylic acid in a simple chemical reaction. The latter, in fact, due to its high acidity, is not indicated for oral use as it irritates the gastric mucosa.

In cosmetics, however, salicylic acid is widely used in skin care since its characteristics make it a real panacea for the health and beauty of the skin. As you will see, its action changes according to the concentrations used. Therefore, in the event of more serious aesthetic problems, you can contact your trusted doctor, who can advise you best. For everything else, you can find salicylic acid cream on the market, which can be purchased freely and used to solve a series of common skin blemishes.

Salicylic Acid: What It Is And Its Properties

First, some curiosities. From a chemical point of view, salicylic acid is a salicylate that, although it has been synthesized in laboratories for a long time, is easily found in nature. Plants use it as a hormone that intervenes in some important functions, flowing through the vessels of some plants. Salicylic acid is found in the form of colorless crystals or as a whitish powder that has a sour taste to taste.

Although it can be extracted from plants, in its natural form, it requires long processes and transformations involving the intestinal flora and the liver, so its effects are felt with a considerable delay. For this reason, synthetic salicylates are preferred. Soon after its discovery, salicylic acid was used in medicine. Following more careful studies, however, researchers understood that its formula used in purity could create considerable problems for the gastric mucosa. 

Here, then, it was replaced by acetylsalicylic acid. However, its acidity represents an exceptional cure for various skin blemishes and has made it possible to discover its effectiveness in the cosmetic and dermatological fields. You have certainly heard of the so-called fruit acids. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that forms these substances together with the alpha-hydroxy acids.

Salicylic Acid: Properties

It is currently used in preparing products for topical use, while its use in preparing medicines has been abandoned. This does not mean that it, in the medical field, has the following therapeutic properties :

  1. antipyretic
  2. antirheumatic
  3. antiinflammatory

For the above reasons, however, it is only used in the cosmetic field for:

  1. remove skin blemishes
  2. perform peels
  3. fight acne
  4. treat corns, calluses, and warts
  5. promote cell renewal

Salicylic Acid: In Cosmetics

As mentioned earlier, salicylic acid can solve many of your skincare problems. Its high acidity makes it particularly suitable for treating blemishes such as psoriasis, mild and moderate acne, and hyperpigmentation. Not only that, if you have problems with dandruff, calluses, and warts, the constant use of creams and ointments based on salicylic acid could solve them permanently. This substance has other interesting properties since it is an antibacterial and a natural disinfectant, which can penetrate skin lesions and, in addition to speeding up healing, fight inflammation and infection. 

Salicylic acid in cream or ointment, which you can buy freely, is found in low percentages (1-3% maximum) to make the most of all its properties without any problems deriving from its excessive use. However, higher quantities, which can reach 25-30%, are found only and exclusively in products for medical use. In fact, the clinic’s specialist will advise you on the treatment and number of sessions best suited to your aesthetic problem. Finally, in some preparations, salicylic acid is combined with other substances, such as corticosteroids, to treat pathologies such as psoriasis, eczema, or neurodermatitis.

Salicylic Acid For The Skin: Peeling

What is salicylic acid used for? Its primary function is the keratolytic one. Such a complex term shouldn’t scare you because it’s a simple removal of the most superficial layer of the skin, made up of dead cells. A real peeling effect, therefore, incredibly renews the skin, making it brighter and healthier. The positive side is represented by the fact that salicylic acid only removes the outer keratinized part. Therefore it does not reach the deeper layers of the dermis. In fact, consider that the superficial part of the skin is made up of a series of layers (from 15 to 20) of dead cells called corneocytes. 

Their characteristic is that they are almost completely devoid of water but very rich in keratin, a very resistant protein. Salicylic acid breaks the bonds between the keratin molecules, thus dissolving the stratum corneum and eliminating most dead cells. Naturally, this improves the absorption of other active ingredients, such as moisturizing and nourishing. Perfect is, for example, the combination with hyaluronic acid, which restores the right degree of hydration and elasticity to the skin. 

So, salicylic acid peeling effect on your skin also contributes to a remarkable cell turnover with incredible anti-aging action. Small expression lines, signs of aging, and spots caused by the sun are significantly reduced, and the skin is brighter and healthier. Its use in skin care goes further. Salicylic acid for acne is, in fact, particularly effective and succeeds where many other products fail. This is because it frees the hair follicles from dead cells and counteracts inflammation, heals superficial lesions, and has an antibacterial action. 

On the other hand, salicylic acid for warts and calluses should be used in higher concentrations and with greater care. It causes real burns by eliminating the blemish and subsequent skin renewal of the treated area. From what has been said so far, it is clear that salicylic acid in cream is particularly indicated in all those cases in which you need a natural beauty treatment.

Salicylic Acid Creams

On the market, salicylic acid can be found in creams and ointments with a 1-2% concentration. These products are for home use, and you can use them periodically to exfoliate the skin of the face and hands, fight pimples and impure skin, and also against minor hair imperfections, such as dandruff.

Salicylic Acid: How To Use It

The products can have various formulations and uses. For daily use, for example, you can use a salicylic acid-based make-up remover, which can constantly remove the day’s impurities, but not too aggressively, allowing the skin to breathe and preparing it for subsequent treatments. In other cases, however, the creams have a more targeted effect and should be applied locally, where the problem occurs. Their use mainly makes the skin purer by eliminating pimples, blackheads, and infections from excess sebum and dead cells.

It is different if you have to solve a more serious problem, such as severe acne. In this case, you will have to undergo cycles of sessions at an outpatient clinic, where a specialist will use products with higher contractions and will be able to advise you on the best method for your case. When using salicylic acid in ointment or cream, be careful not to expose yourself to the sun’s rays during the treatment period, as, by eliminating the superficial layers, your skin will be more delicate and more exposed to damage from UV rays. If you can’t do without it, use sunscreens higher than 50.

Contraindications Of Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid has no specific contraindications if used in the ways and in the percentages indicated. If you don’t have allergies to salicylates, temporary redness may arise after applying the product, indicating the action of the acid on the skin. Peeling can also cause the formation of dark patches due to the presence of corneocytes. All these effects, however, disappear rather quickly. In some cases and very sensitive subjects, redness and dryness of the skin may also occur.

Allergic reactions to salicylates could involve skin rashes, hives, red and watery eyes, or significant changes in skin color. Although the creams are topical, salicylic acid may interfere with the active ingredients in some medications. For this reason, if you are taking particular medicines or have certain pathologies, you should ask your doctor for advice. Specifically, for example, you must be careful if you are already taking medicines for diabetes, sulfonamides, heparins, or naproxen. However, all this should not discourage you from using salicylic acid in cream since contraindications are rare, and the creams on the market are completely safe.

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