Acne is a frustrating skin problem that can affect anyone from pre-teens through adults. Even though it is an issue commonly associated with young adolescents, many adults will tell you that their struggle for clear skin actually did not even peak until they were in their mid twenties or thirties. Because of the prevalence of this problem, skin treatments like chemical peels have been developed and widely used to attempt to combat the frustrations caused by acne.
What is Salicylic Acid?
Perhaps one of the most common acne fighting medications is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid works by penetrating deep into the pores of skin in an attempt to attack the cause of visible acne at its root. Basically, this chemical works to dry up oil glands, because often clogged oil glands are the cause of rupturing pimples.
The thought behind this treatment is as follows: If too much oil is clogging up your pores and causing infectious pimples, then preventing oil from being released in the first place should stop the cause of the problem.
Additionally, this naturally derived acid is also promised to help mitigate visible signs of aging. The exact mechanism by which salicylic acid works to produce such anti-aging effects is not fully known, but it has been proposed that the acid works to stimulate enhanced collagen production. Such anti-aging effects include minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and other fine lines. Firmer, smoother skin overall is claimed to be one of the benefits of using this skin treatment. Additional skin-related benefits of salicylic acid also include erasing (or at least minimizing) dark sunspots and acne scars.
Reduction in facial pore size is another praised benefit of this derivative of willow bark. Finally, salicylic acid is also believed to work as an effective anti-inflammatory; this property of salicylic acid should help reduce the blotchy, redness that often accompanies acne breakouts. Therefore, the combined array of benefits from using a salicylic acid peel (smoother skin, more even pigmentation, smaller pores, and reduced inflammation) should provide an all in one treatment for facial skin problems. These treatments, however, are not designed to treat warts; warts actually fall under a different category of skin problems altogether.
Salicylic acid treatments come in a variety of forms. Many facial washes actually include this chemical compound among their list of ingredients. However, the concentration of salicylic acid within common face washes is typically pretty low. Consumers can also find gels and many forms of facial and skin peels. Topical spot application creams are also another option for anyone interested in trying out a salicylic acid product. The type of product best suited for an individual consumer’s needs really depends on personal skin care complaints. For instance, someone suffering from blackheads might want a more spot-related treatment, while someone who battles large pores, oily skin, and acne scars could probably benefit more from a full facial chemical peel. In fact, certain “tca peels” also work to provide microdermabrasion benefits as well, leaving skin with a glowing appearance.
Do Salicylic Acid Treatments Work?
Overall, this is a very effective method of ridding yourself of unwanted facial blemishes. In fact, many users have had great results with salicylic acid treatments. After all, if no one had ever had good results, then this chemical probably would not still be the basis for a huge variety of acne treatments. However, it is certainly not one that is without its own full list of pros and cons.
Specifically speaking, salicylic acid peels can be too strong for some user’s skin. This is because, as explained previously, the chemical works to clear up clogged pores and effectively dry out the sabaceous, oil-producing glands of the epidermis.
While this may be an excellent treatment for anyone whose acne is caused by extremely overworking glands, it is quite possibly too harsh for most other uses.
Common side effects of this therefore include overly dry skin, particularly in the winter when air moisture is reduced and other weather elements are already harsher. Additionally, even though salicylic acid is praised for its ability to retard inflammation, some users may actually respond to this somewhat strong chemical by having increased facial skin redness. This redness may be the combined effects of overly dry skin and personal sensitivities to the properties of salicylic acid.
User reviews for salicylic acid treatments tend to reflect both the benefits and the risks of using such products.
Even though these treatments are considered safe enough to use at home and present a relatively minimal risk to most users, it still is important to remember that these creams and facial peels are definitely not a “one size fits all” option when dealing with acne or other skin concerns.
While the lactic and glycolic properties of salicylic acid treatments are great for tightening and brightening facial skin for some users, others complained that the acid’s ability to dry up their pores actually made things worse for them in the long run. Specifically speaking, these users stated that they felt like their oil glands tried to overcompensate for the strong anti- oil production properties of salicylic acid peels; because of this, their oil glands actually went into overdrive in an attempt to keep balanced, and this left them with more pimples than when they even started using these treatments. However, by far the most common complaint for salicylic acid peels is that of overly dry, scaly skin.
Because of these issues, some consumers might want to try alternative methods to clearing up their skin prior to resorting to salicylic acid treatments. Increased water intake has long been associated with healthier skin overall. Regulating dietary intake to include reduced amounts of sugars and less oily, fried food is also thought to help improve the appearance of skin. Regular exercise and healthy sun exposure may also help some individual’s skincare concerns. Gentle facial washes that do not contain harsh chemicals can also help to solve many facial skin problems as well.
As noted previously, salicylic acid peels, creams, and gels are certainly an effective way to address a number of skin related concerns. However, these products are not necessarily the best option for everyone with acne or other skin problems, due to the potentially overly-harsh properties of salicylic acid. Because of this, some individuals might want to resort to other ways to clear their skin prior to trying out a salicylic acid treatment. For those consumers who do decided to use a salicylic acid peel, it will be important for them to carefully note any allergic reactions they may have to the product. Using a good, deeply hydrating facial cream in order to combat dryness while using a salicylic acid product is also recommended.