Some time ago I tried out few skin care products that contain salicylic acid. My dermatologist recommended them claiming that they could help with redness on my face. So I tried.

I knew already a thing or two about that magical compound. Well, it is quite popular nowadays, isn’t it? 🙂 Anyway, I decided to expand my knowledge a little bit. That can’t hurt.

First things first, salicylic acid is NOT an aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is an active form of aspirin after it has been processed by the body. So it IS quite close but it is still wrong to say that you apply aspirin on your face if your favorite skin care products contain salicylic acid. 🙂

Salicylic acid is one of the key ingredients in topical anti-acne products. This beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is capable of penetrating and breaking down fats and lipids. It causes the cells of epidermis to shed more readily, opens clogged pores, neutralizes bacteria and prevents pores from clogging up again by constricting pore diameter and allowing room for new cell growth. For that reason it is quite common ingredient of skin care products for oily skin, or skin that is prone to acne and impurities. And, in theory, such products should work really well and easily solve certain skin problems. In theory.

One of those products (and the one I tried) is DERMASENCE Mousse, foaming cleanser. It regulates pH value of the skin so you basically don’t have to tone your skin after cleansing, which is great! Saves time. 🙂

Well, I cannot deny that my skin seemed smoother and softer (even cleaner) after using a mousse cleanser with salicylic acid. I have sensitive, combination to oily skin, and this thing worked miracles on it. The cleanest and freshest feeling on my skin EVER. But!

Quite soon, this heavenly feeling turned into real hell. My skin started to feel itchy and looked red. As the days passed, small red patches became bigger and they didn’t seem to go away. I did many “experiments” with my skin, trying to cleanse it more gently, or in a different way. Common and the most efficient way to use mousse cleanser is applying it on dry skin, gently rubbing into the skin and then rinsing with lukewarm water. I also tried with applying it on wet skin, keeping in mind that this might reduce the efficiency, but it still didn’t help with redness appearing right after cleansing.


After a while, salicylic acid in the product also dried out my skin and it was quite clear that I have to say goodbye to the product and salicylic acid. I have to mention that all other ingredients in this product were fine, I’ve been using already some similar products, containing similar ingredients (except salicylic acid) and I haven’t reacted to them in this way. So I blamed salicylic acid for everything 😛 and stopped using the product. Afterwards, no miracle happened to me, my skin hasn’t improved immediately, but it certainly immediately appeared less irritated. You can read more about what actually improved my skin in one of my previous posts – HERE.

At very high concentrations, salicylic acid can cause chemical burns on the skin. For that reason, the concentration of salicylic acid in skin care products is usually quite low; up to 3% in products that are expected to be washed off, such as cleansers and shampoos, and up to 2% in gel cremes. Such small percentage shouldn’t do any harm to the skin. It is usually stated that even the most sensitive skin can benefit from products with salicylic acid, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, it didn’t really work out for me. I can understand that for most of you salicylic acid is an excellent choice, but skin is a complex system. There are so many different things going on out there and it is exposed to pretty much everything in the environment, so we cannot expect that things will be as simple as that.

So if you suspect that something might be wrong with products you use, if you think that some skin-friendly ingredient is not so friendly to your skin – replace it! We are all unique after all, aren’t we? So is our skin.