Salicylic Acid - Inexpensive Skin Care That Works

Many patients with sensitive skin are immediately turned off by any product with "acid" in its list of ingredients, but they needn't be.

Salicylic acid (a.k.a. beta hydroxy acid) is actually a great, non-irritating alternative to several popular skin care ingredients.  Salicylic acid can be found in cleansers, facial creams, and lotions and is available at all price points. This is a skin care area where you can save money rather than splurge - cheaper products are just as good.

Salicylic acid is ideal for people with acne and rosacea but can be drying if used too often. Try using it only once a day if you have dry skin and twice a day if your skin is oily.

Salicylic acid is particularly successful in treating acne, because it targets oil in hair follicles and exfoliates pores. (Remember, clogged pores are one of the three contributing factors to acne.) Many popular acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide, which is highly effective but may be too irritating for high-scorers on the sensitive scale. If you think that applies to you, try salicylic acid instead.

Then there's the case of alpha hydroxy acids, which seem to be touted everywhere you look these days! (Glycolic acid is a form of AHA, as is lactic acid). AHAs are indeed a good option for some skin types, but they may also be too harsh for rosacea skin types.

Once again, salicylic acid comes to the rescue - by speeding up cell turnover in much the same way alpha hydroxy acids do, salicylic acid is an effective alternative for treating sun-damaged and hyperpigmented skin, with some anti-inflammatory activity to boot.

You see, salicylic acid isn't just an exfoliant - it also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective option for sensitive types who suffer from rosacea.

Best of all, salicylic acid-based products are affordable and easy to find. Before you start using salicylic acid, though, use caution: It should not be used by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, or by anyone allergic to aspirin.

And once you are using it, remember that faster cell turnover equals greater sensitivity to the sun - you must use sunscreen every day.

Wishing you great skin!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site,

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.
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