Salicylic acid is manufactured by chemical synthesis from phenol through Kolbe-Schmidt reaction
Topical. External use only.
Salicylic acid (from Latin, salix, willow tree) is derived from the metabolism of salicin, which comes from the bark of the willow tree. Willows have watery bark sap, which is heavily charged with salicylic acid.
This effective and popular ingredient in skincare needs to be used with due caution (see Cautions below) at a maximum concentration of 2% for leave-on products and 3% for wash-off products.
Salicylic acid is probably best known for its use as a key ingredient in topical anti-acne products. As a keratolytic, it increases the quantity of moisture in the skin and dissolves the substance (keratin) that makes dead skin cells stick together. It exfoliates not only the surface of the skin but can penetrate the pores, cleansing the lining and causing enlarged pores to shrink.
Salicylic acid’s effectiveness as an ingredient in anti-acne treatments is enhanced by its natural anti-bacterial properties. It is effective without being harsh due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties. It is effective in cleansing the skin without causing dryness.
As salicylic acid causes old skin cells to ‘unstick’ and peel away, it is an ideal ingredient in exfoliant products such as cleansers, scrubs, and anti age-spot/blemish products that help to create an even-toned skin.
As an ingredient in:
- Treatments for acne-prone skin / blackheads /pimples
- Products for evening of skin tone and skin texture
- Exfoliator to eliminate keratin build-up that creates ‘bumpy’ skin, especially in conditions such as keratosis pilaris (a common, harmless condition where the skin’s surface is rough/ ‘goose pimply’). Creates exfoliation without ‘harsh scrubbing’.
- Pedicure treatments. Add as an ingredient in exfoliators for hard skin on feed / treatment of calluses.
- Anti-aging toner to even out age spots and blemishes on mature skin. Treats uneven skin tone.
- Shampoo (remembering maximum concentration [3% for wash-off products]) to help slough dead skin cells on scalp / treatment of hyperkeratinisation (overproduction of keratin). Cleansing away dead cells can help ‘flat’ hair to become ‘bouncier’.
- Anti-blemish gels worn under make-up.
- Moisturizers for specialist anti-spot and anti-blemish properties.
External use only. Do not use undiluted. Do not use during pregnancy. Avoid use in products for children.
Salicylic acid can be used in products at a concentration of up to 2% for products that are left on the skin and at a maximum concentration of 3% for products that are washed off the skin. Medical preparations to treat warts have greater concentrations, which can be bought from pharmacies, etc.
However rare or unlikely an allergic reaction may be: in the event a serious reaction occurs, prompt medical advice should be sought.