Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist) on 19th Feb 2021

What can a 2% Salicylic Acid Serum do for Your Skin?

2% Salicylic Acid Serum for your skin

Salicylic acid is on the top of the list in the over-the-counter battle against breakouts, among other key players. Acne dies out when salicylic acid fights it. This remarkable ingredient is the one for you if you are keen on combating frequent breakouts or if you want to treat oily skin. The powerful chemical exfoliator sinks right into your skin and tackles issues at the roots, all the while keeping redness at bay and giving way to luminous, clear skin to shine through.

The plethora of questionable acne remedies on the internet might overwhelm you, but the specific research on salicylic acid proves its viability in acne treatment. Acne treatments mainly cover salicylic acid, and if you have dealt with breakouts before, you may have had your fair share of encounters with this acid.

One of the most well-known acne-fighting agents, Salicylic acid, plays a vital role in dead skin cell removal and deep penetration into acne treatment pores. The acne-zapping skincare hero is your knight in shining armor if you struggle with stubborn blackheads or want to revitalize your complexion.

Benzoyl peroxide has been a rival of salicylic acid. Still, the approach to treating acne is fairly different. Salicylic removes pore blockage, and Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria inside the pores. But salicylic acid has the upper hand in the game when it comes to sensitive skin, as benzoyl peroxide can lead to flakiness and irritation.

The exfoliating and bacteria-fighting powers of this beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) is something you need to know about! So, read on. 

Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum

Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum

₹ 545

When to use: PM

Frequency: Alternate days

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What Exactly is Salicylic Acid?  

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, a type of carbon-based organic compound naturally occurring in willow barks, wintergreen, sweet birch, fruits, and vegetables. BHAs are lipid-soluble and can penetrate deep into the pores to unclog blackheads.

Unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil-soluble and possess the ability to get through oil, thinning it so it can flow smoothly to the skin's surface where your cleanser washes it away.

The oil-based factor of the acid makes it apt for oily, breakout-prone skin, and it is the reason why the medication of salicylic acid products for acne works well. However, all skin types can benefit from acid.

While AHAs work well for the skin's surface to loosen old, dead skin and reveal fresh skin, salicylic acid, a BHA, works deep into the pores.

Salicylic acid works by increasing the skin's moisture content and dissolving the components that cause the skin cells to stick together. This process makes shedding skin cells easier.

Serums as a vehicle use salicylic acid in its unique way to target specific people, depending on skin issues.  

What can salicylic acid do for your skin? 

Salicylic acid dives deep into the skin to do its job. And this is the quality that makes it eligible for acne treatment, especially blackheads and whiteheads.

Once penetrated, Salicylic Acid dissolves pore-clogging skin debris and helps your skin get rid of red, inflamed pimples and blemishes.

The penetration is so deep that it breaks down skin cell connections. After penetration, the acid dissolves the intracellular 'glue' that holds skin cells together. This softens the skin and gets rid of all the dryness and scaling.

Apart from acne treatment, Salicylic acid is present in products meant to "rejuvenate" or "brighten" your skin. And the reason for this inclusion is that salicylic acid also acts as a mild chemical peel for acne-prone patients or people in need of a milder peel.

Besides giving your face all the benefits it does, salicylic acid can also help treat mild body acne or bumps on your back.

2% salicylic acid by minimalist is aloe vera juice-based, which soothes the skin in general, addresses exfoliation-related irritation, easily penetrates your pore lining, and gets rid of clogged-up dirt, debris, and sebum for clear and softer skin.   

Did you know?

Salicylic acid is also used as a food preservative, and acid-infused shampoos are used to treat dandruff.  

The excellent pore-cleaner has many benefits:  

  • Minimizes pores 
  • Reduces redness and calms stressed skin 
  • Prevents future acne 
  • Delves deep into the pores 
  • Loosens dead skin cells 
  • Unclogs pores 
  • Regulates and reduces sebum 
  • Fights acne 

The Pore-cleaning Factor 

AHA PHA BHA 32% Face Peel
AHA PHA BHA 32% Face Peel
AHA PHA BHA 32% Face Peel
AHA PHA BHA 32% Face Peel

AHA PHA BHA 32% Face Peel

₹ 689

When to use: PM

Frequency: Once in 2 weeks

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Cell break down promotes exfoliation. Salicylic acid is also known as a keratolytic medication. This kind of medication causes softening and sloughing of the top skin cell layers.

The acid also breaks apart desmosomes, attachments between cells of the skin's outer layers. This action gives a further boost to skin exfoliation and initiates pore unclogging. The process encourages cellular turnover and improves skin dullness and texture. The exfoliation also paves for other skincare products to penetrate the skin effectively.  

The Acne-Fighter  

When skin cells behave abnormally- instead of following a healthy skin cell cycle, they stick together and clog pores giving birth to cysts and blackheads. 

Three acne contributing factors:  

Abnormal skin cells sloughing, excessive oiliness, the action of P. acnes bacteria.

The oil solubility of salicylic acid makes it easier for the ingredient to dissolve all the excess sebum and debris. The anti-inflammatory effect helps the skin not to look all red and inflamed.

Removal and prevention of acne and skin blemishes is salicylic acid's major game plan. The process involves reducing inflammation and redness, unplugging clogged pores, and allowing pimples to shrink. The pores are cleared up, and the breakout chain is given a break.

Acne can be treated with salicylic acid due to its antibacterial properties but not as effective as the classic blackheads and whiteheads.  

Black or white, salicylic acid will fight their heads.  

Excess/extra oil mixes with dead skin cells and forms a plug, clogging the pore. Salicylic delves deep, dissolves these keratin plugs, and regulates skin cells.

Salicylic acid effectively gets rid of whiteheads and blackheads around the nose and blackheads prone areas.

Well-formulated, leave-on salicylic acid exfoliant not only helps to dissolve all the blackheads, but continuous use also helps keep future blackheads at bay. 

Your excessively sticky skin just got a remedy  

When it leads to blemishes, Oily skin becomes a problem as it clogs pores and messes with the natural skin shedding cycle. Excessively oily skin traps bacteria and irritants that may lead to skin inflammation. Salicylic acid breaks down fatty compounds on the skin's surface, such as sebum or natural oils. The addition of salicylic acid to your skincare routine potentially helps your skin clear out excess oils and reduce sebum levels. This further also improves the appearance of pores.  

Tighten them pores  

Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner

Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner

₹ 395

When to use: AM / PM

Frequency: Everyday

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Among its remarkable benefits, salicylic acid is a highly effective astringent that tightens skin and reduces oiliness of the skin, further minimizing the appearance of pores. Minimizing and tightening the skin makes your skin youthful and smooth.  

Is Salicylic Acid the one for you? 

If you have oily & acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is for you and treats and prevents comedonal acne, i.e., blackheads and whiteheads.

If you have dry/sensitive skin, take care as this acid can further cause dry out and irritate the skin.

Salicylic acid can cause a problem when you use it excessively, as salicylic acid's primary side effect is irritation and dryness that can prove to be very sensitive for those who overuse it.

Based on the concentration and number of times you are applying the product, you may experience dryness, peeling, redness, and skin irritation. If you have particularly severe dry or sensitive skin, you should consider avoiding the acid or opting for smaller concentrations.

Large portions of the acid can cause salicylate poisoning, so do not use large amounts and slather yourself with the acid.

Salicylic acid's skincare benefits make it a viable ingredient in many skincare products, from cleansers to makeup. The OTC salicylic acid was available at 1-5% concentrations used for gentle exfoliation and breakouts treatment.

Salicylic acid 2% serum is for you if you have acne prone-skin and excessively oily skin. It helps reduce and prevents acne blemishes, smooth skin texture, and keeps the oils in check.

All skin types can benefit from a lightweight salicylic acid liquid exfoliant, as it gives you a refined and healthy glow.

Serums are optimal to keep blemish-prone skin balanced and under control. Do not slather the serum all over. Instead, pat it gently.

Salicylic acid demands your attention. Focus on your complete exfoliation routine as you'll need to cut back on other facial scrubs, harsh soaps, or exfoliating masks.  

Advice by Minimalist

Salicylic acid makes your skin susceptible to harsh UV rays/sun damage, and hence wear a broad-spectrum SPF when you step out at all times during the day and limit sun exposure.

You may be all excited about starting with salicylic acid but listen to your skin, moisturize when using salicylic acid and start with moderation, notice how your skin reacts, and gradually increase the frequency of using it.

Beware of all the other ingredients in your skincare regimen. Pay extra caution with retinoids and vitamin C.

A 2019 study shows that salicylic acid 2% is as effective as 0.01% adapalene plus 5% benzoyl peroxide (5%BPO +0.1%ADA) in acne treatment.  

The Side Effects of Salicylic acid

Commonly used concentrations in products are considered safe. However, if you have a salicylate allergy, consult your doctor before opting for any product containing the acid.

Due to the similarity in its ingredients with aspirin, if you are allergic to aspirin or have rosacea, you should steer clear. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before opting for salicylic acid.  

The common side effect of salicylic acid is irritation. Others being:

  • Burning or tingling sensation 
  • Dryness 
  • Redness 
  • Peeling 

Wrapping Up 

2% salicylic acid can prove to be the everyday go-to gentle exfoliator that will help your skin ward off blackheads and regulate your oils, giving you a flawless matt look. Give your skin the time to get used to or adjust to salicylic acid and eventually reap the benefits.

Although it is not a complete cure for acne, it has effectively helped clear up breakouts for many people.