Salicylic Acid

[sal-uh-sil-ik, as-id]

Categories: Organic Acids


Also called ortho-hydroxybenzoic acid, salicylic acid is a crystalline solid that occurs naturally in many plants. The most renowned use of salicylic acid is to treat acne, other uses include skin exfoliation and treating warts.

Salicylic acid is a widely used ingredient in topical skincare products. From more than 2000 years it has been used to treat a variety of skin disorders. Treatment with salicylic acid have proven to reduce both the severity, as well as the number of acne lesions. In addition to decreasing blemishes, salicylic acid is also known to possess exfoliation properties, which may further increase skin smoothness. One of the key characteristics that enable salicylic acid acne treatment is its anti-microbial property. Coupled with its exfoliating component, salicylic acid is able to exterminate surface bacteria and reduce future breakouts.1-2 Furthermore, salicylic acid can also be sued to treat signs of uneven skin tone and photoaging.3

Lastly, aside from its skin remedial purposes, salicylic acid is also known to be a derivative of aspirin.4

  1. Zander, Ernst, and S. Weisman. "Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads." Clinical therapeutics 14.2 (1991): 247-253
  2. KLIGMAN, D. and KLIGMAN, A. M. (1998), Salicylic Acid Peels for the Treatment of Photoaging. Dermatologic Surgery, 24: 325–328. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.1998.tb04162.x
  3. Tasleem Arif. Clin Cosmet Investig Dematol. (2015) 8:455-461
  4. Vane, John R., and Regina M. Botting. "Mechanism of action of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs." The American journal of medicine 104.3 (1998): 2S-8S
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