The myriad benefits of Salicylic Acid for Skin and Hair


What is Salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), a type of carbon-based organic compound which is derived from willow bark, says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson and it belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates. “This structure is important because it makes Salicylic acid more oil-soluble so it can penetrate the pores of the skin, ’’ says Dr. Schueller.

Whether you have been fighting with stubborn blackheads or looking forward to reinvigorating your dull complexion, salicylic acid helps to get rid of all this. This is one such ingredient which is found in most of the skincare and healthcare products. This is best known for its exfoliating and bacteria-fighting powers.

Are you still there? Nice, because this is where it gets more interesting. By now you know what is Salicylic acid. So next is how it works.


How does Salicylic acid work for skin?

Salicylic acid can get deep into your skin to do its job. It is oil-soluble which makes it capable of cutting through oil and scaling deep within your pores to remove blockages.

It works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin and dissolving the substance that causes the skin cells to stick together which thereby makes it easier to shed the skin cells. The ingredient can penetrate so deeply into the skin that it can even break down the connection between skin cells.

It now makes sense why the ingredient is a long time favourite for those with oily, acne-prone skin right? Salicylic acid is one of the biggest enemies of acne. Whenever you see a zit invading your face, you can reach out for this product and slather it on a pimple overnight and the next morning the pimple will be much less noticeable. Furthermore, it also helps in the breakdown of blackheads and whiteheads.


How does Salicylic acid work for hair?

Not only the skin, but Salicylic acid is used to treat problems associated with hair too. This medication can go beyond facial toners and astringents.

Salicylic acid performs multiple functions at once on the hair follicles. It is used to reduce the formation of dandruff, keeping your scalp free of dead and flaky skin. Not only this, but it also helps to control hair fall.

Salicylic acid works in shampoo by breaking down dead skin cells. It naturally strips away the outermost layer of the epidermis, allowing dead skin to wash off your scalp when you shampoo and condition your hair. From dandruff to uncomfortable itchy hair, many of the most common scalp problems worsen when dead skin builds up on the scalp. In that condition, Salicylic acid acts as the best tool to break down those patches while increasing moisture to prevent them from forming in the future.


It treats the following conditions:
  • Seborrheic dermatitis:- This inflammatory skin disorder is known for forming oily skin flakes on the scalp, including other areas such as face or ears. The salicylic acid shampoo will help to treat this condition.
  • Dandruff:- As told earlier, Salicylic acid helps to reduce dandruff. The white flakes from dandruff can build up in your hair and shoulders. The salicylic acid shampoo will help you to get rid of those flakes while also moisturizing your dry scalp.
  • Hair Loss:- Salicylic acid is not directly linked in treating hair fall problems but it does help in keeping more of your hair. It washes away excess sebum- a waxy substance which contributes to hair loss. So the Salicylic acid shampoo washes away the excess sebum, thereby reducing the risk for hair loss in future.


So now you know how salicylic acid helps in taking care of your skin and hair, how it helps you to get rid of many common problems that people face these days. But one question remains unanswered. Is Salicylic acid safe to use? Come, let’s find out.


 Is Salicylic acid safe to use? Are there any side effects?

Generally, Salicylic acid is viewed as safe and effective for treating skin and hair problems. But it may sometimes cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation when first starting.

It may also remove too much oil resulting in dryness and potential irritation.

Other side effects include:

  1. Hives
  2. Itching
  3. Difficult breathing
  4. Feeling light-headed
  5. Peeling skin

Although this is very rare and usually very mild, still you should always consult a healthcare professional before using it. Most of the times Salicylic acid is used in relatively small quantities or as suggested by the doctor. Any tenacious or serious side effects should be discussed with the healthcare provider immediately.


For whom is it not suitable to use Salicylic acid?

  • Children:-  Salicylic acid should not be used for children under the age of 2 years. Small children have sensitive and fragile skin therefore they are more prone to skin irritation. Their skin absorbs Salicylic acid at a higher rate as compared to adults. Hence Salicylic acid is not suitable for children.
  • People having diseases:- People having liver or kidney diseases, diabetes, or blood circulation problems should not use this medication without consulting a doctor or a pharmacist. They should make sure whether it safe or not by consulting a doctor.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding Woman:- Though Salicylic acid is safe to use while you are pregnant. Still, it is necessary to take precautionary measures. Always consult a doctor before using salicylic acid when you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • A person prone to allergies:- If a person experiences an allergic reaction such as severe headache, shortness of breath, stomach pain, or diarrhea, he/she should stop the usage of this medication and should consult a doctor.


To conclude, the benefits offered by Salicylic Acid for skin and hair are quite useful and beneficial but proper precautions should be taken with regard to its usage to reap maximum benefits.


Taking care of your skin and hair is as important as taking care of your health as Linden Tyler said,

“Invest in your skin, it is going to

represent you for a very

long time’’


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