Life was perfect. Then this happened.
Her confusion was growing, frustration bubbling away under the surface, her angst becoming more and more noticeable. It just shouldn’t be this way, she thought. I’m confident, smart, successful and yet? Now in her forties, what she thought she’d left behind in her twenties, began to make a reappearance. On top of this, there was something else beginning to appear.
Our heroine’s dilemma? Acne, age spots, ageing and even irritating redness, had become a problem!! This CANNOT be right! Fighting her despair, she turned to the one thing she knew would help.
What is salicylic acid used for?
But why? What’s so great about Salicylic Acid?
As it turns out Salicylic Acid is what’s known as salicin, initially derived from Willow Bark, but these days most cosmetic companies produce it bio-identically in the lab. It’s the same chemical used in Aspirin and the correct amounts, and when delivered in superior formulations, Salicylic Acid is a dream come true. A multifunctional compound that will not only assist the skin when it breaks out but also helps to deal with the subtle changes in the skin associated with ageing that can begin to appear in your late ’30s and early ’40s.
Let’s face it, our heroine is not the only one to face blinding pimples at that-time-of-the-month, nor is she the only one to suffer the emergence of age spots and wrinkles that seem to appear overnight magically. Right?
The triple threat. Acne, Age Spots & Ageing.
Many of us, especially in the years between 39 and 50, will begin to notice changes in our skin. Changes we’d rather not see, especially while still battling with the enemies of the past like acne. In our forties and on the road to perimenopause our hormones start to act up again (if they ever stopped), blind pimples pop up overnight, and it’s around about this time we start to see age spots appearing, again out of nowhere, or so it seems.
When it comes to age spots, sometimes it’s just a case of too much life spent in the great outdoors without proper sun protection finally catching up with us, but to be fair, even if you have stayed out of the sun, your hormones can disrupt the hormonal activities that once protected your pigment cells from clumping together. When this happens, ages spots or hyperpigmentation is the consequence.
Then there’s the rate of skin cell turnover, which begins to slow down dramatically in our forties, dead skin cells hang around leaving the skin looking tired, dull and, well, aged.
As an exfoliant.
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, or in other words, when topically applied to the skin in concentrations of 0.5% to 2% it will create an enzymatic reaction to encourage the dead cells on the surface of your skin to exfoliate away. Of course, your skin does this naturally, but in certain cases, it needs a bit of a hurry up. Salicylic acid speeds up this natural process, and when you increase your rate of exfoliation, the skin is clearer, smoother, brighter and dead cells are less likely to build up in the follicle to form blackheads, congestion and pimples.
As an anti-inflammatory agent.
If you’ve ever had a ‘blind pimple’, then you know how painful it can be. What you may also notice about these whoppers is they often hang around for ages, just sitting there, you’d squeeze them if you could (please don’t), but there’s really nothing to squeeze, they seem to be inflamed, hard lumps going nowhere. This type of pimple is usually either cystic or directly linked to hormonal fluctuations that create inflammation in the skin.
As Salicylic Acid has brilliant anti-inflammatory properties, it is the perfect solution to relieving inflammation allowing any break-outs to heal faster while reducing the risk of scarring.
Fight bacterial invasion.
Of course, then there are the break-outs associated with just too much oil and too many dead cells leading to eruptions in the follicle. Your body will send in defence cells to deal with the infection, but why not speed things along with the anti-bacterial properties of Salicylic Acid. Good news, right?
What about Rosacea?
Rosacea is an unfortunate skin condition that is very difficult to treat. If you’ve got it, you’ll know it by the butterfly-shaped redness across your cheeks, your skin will heat up at a moments notice, and in some cases, acne occurs as well. While it’s not a cure, Salicylic Acid will help with relieving the inflammation and infection often associated with this skin condition.
Important note: If you think you may have Rosacea it is best to seek out professional help to guide you in the best products for this problem.
But how does all this help when you have a combination of Acne, Age Spots and Ageing?
Well, age spots and prematurely aged skin needs the encouragement of exfoliation. When it comes to age spots, increasing cell turnover through regular exfoliation will push the pigmented cells up through the layers of the epidermis and out of your skin.
Prematurely aged or sun-damaged skin will also benefit from the increased exfoliation provided by Salicylic Acid, and the reduction in general inflammation will encourage new cell production and deactivate the enzymes in your skin that damage collagen.
You’ll also find the regular refinement you will achieve with regular use of Salicylic Acid will help to minimise the size of your pores. More good news.
Is that all you need?
There is never one single ingredient or a single product that is a cure-all. In these days of ever more sophisticated skincare formulations, there is a myriad of clever cell-communicating ingredients that will assist your skin in looking its best.
But, there are mainstays. The workhorses that make everything else work so much better. Salicylic Acid is one of those ingredients.
Not only will you have a clearer, smoother and brighter skin, but the inclusion in your regular beauty regimen will mean many of the other ingredients in your serums and creams will have a far better chance of finding their way down into the lower layers of the skin where they can actually do some good.
So what are you going to do?
If you want Salicylic Acid to work for you, then make sure you have at least 1% in your formulations, 2% is even better. It’s important to note that despite the anti-inflammatory effect of Salicylic Acid, you may feel a short-term stinging or tingling sensation on the skin (especially if you’ve applied too much serum). This will abate after a few minutes after application.
If Salicylic Acid has been added to your moisturising creams or cleansers, that’s okay, but it will probably be a low concentration, same goes for BB Creams. So while it’s a nice idea, you will not get the results a high concentrated serum or gel will give you. The best place for Salicylic Acid is in your serums. Use it nightly.
Three products with a potent dose of salicylic acid.
1. Paula’s Choice – Resist for wrinkles and breakouts is an exfoliating and moisturiser set. The pore refining serum in this set has 2% Salicylic Acid added to the formula which will suit most skin types.
2. Environ – Sebu-Clear Masque When acne is more of a concern, this one has a potent concentration of Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid and Tea Tree Oil will exfoliate, hydrate and reduce bacteria.
3. Mesoestetic Resurfacing peel booster is another good formulation with 2% Salicylic Acid.
Want to know more?
Now if you’d like a more in-depth and juicy conversation about BHA’s (Salicylic Acid) and Adult Acne, then you are going to love this article: A spot of bother in your forties.
Or, if you think your hormones are affecting your skin then you might like to read my article: Are your hormones ruining your life?
And now you.
Have you found yourself increasingly frustrated with your skin? Found a product that’s working for you or you’ve got a question? You can get in touch here. Or, if you found this article useful, why not share it with your friends.
See you next time,