Most of us are probably familiar with salicylic acid from our youth as a common acne-fighting ingredient. In your 40s, salicylic acid might not be as prominent in your daily skincare routines as it used to be—even though hormonal acne is very much a thing in midlife.
But salicylic acid does much more than fight acne. Here’s why you should make sure it’s listed in your arsenal of products in midlife.
A Look At Salicylic Acid’s Anti-Aging Benefits
Salicylic acid is a colorless, organic compound that is a common ingredient in face washes, gels, and creams because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also known as a powerful acne-fighting ingredient for its ability to break down oils, like sebum, and bonds between dead skin cells that lead to clogged pores and eventually breakouts.
It is precisely this ability to break the bonds between dead skin cells that makes salicylic acid a powerful exfoliant. In fact, many chemical peels performed by dermatologists can contain a salicylic acid concentration of up to 50%. And as is well documented, exfoliation is an important step for helping to increase cell turnover and resurface the skin. The result, if done correctly, is a fading of dark spots as well as softening of fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, salicylic acid is part of the Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) family. Similar to Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), multiple studies have shown BHAs can aid in collagen synthesis as well as the firming of the skin. BHAs have also been shown to be less irritating to the skin than AHAs.
How To Incorporate Salicylic Acid Into Your Mature Skincare Routine
No skincare product is one-size-fits-all. We all have different skin types, and salicylic acid is known for working best on oily or combination skin. It’s also effective on normal skin that has the occasional breakout.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, you should avoid salicylic acid because it could agitate your pores. If you’re allergic to aspirin, you should also keep salicylic acid out of your skincare routine because it’s in the same family as the pain reliever. And you should never use it on irritated or sunburned skin.
If you have a breakout of hormonal acne, using salicylic acid spot treatments before you go to bed can help—and possibly eliminate the pimples—by the time you wake up, depending on the severity of the breakout.
Skincare products with salicylic acid should be used cautiously, especially at first. The ingredient can cause rashes, skin irritation, and peeling. In extremely rare cases, it can cause serious allergic reactions. So it’s best to start using it every other day and work your way up to daily or twice per day.
Finally, use just one salicylic acid product at a time. Everything else in your daily routine—cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen—should be gentle and soothing.
This gentle, non-abrasive leave-on exfoliator will dramatically improve your skin’s texture to give you that radiant, youthful, even-toned skin we all want. It goes deep into the pores to remove dirt, oil, and debris. It also sheds dead skin cells and soothes redness, revealing a healthier complexion.
This anti-aging clay face mask will help clear breakouts while minimizing the premature signs of aging. It will detoxify your skin and clear up any pore congestion, soothe aggravation that breakouts can bring, and even out the skin tone.
Get rid of age spots and uneven skin tone with this anti-aging face serum made with salicylic acid, pure vitamin C, and a soothing peptide known as neurosensine. Just three or four drops each morning on the face and neck will visibly boost the skin’s radiance while reducing the look of wrinkles and refining skin texture.