Why isn't my salicylic acid working? (2023)

Table of Contents

What happens if salicylic acid doesn't work?

If your skin isn't responding to salicylic acid, you can use a topical application of sulfur in conjunction with the acid. Sulphur removes excess oil and removes congestion by increasing skin cell turnover.

How long will it take for salicylic acid to work?

Salicylic acid starts working by 2-3 weeks, and takes around 2-3 months to show full effect. This potent antioxidant reduces pigmentation and builds up skin collagen. You will start noticing a brighter complexion in 4-6 weeks but actual improvements, in terms of dark spots reduction, will take around 3-4 months.

Why am I still breaking out on salicylic acid?

You're allergic or sensitive to the ingredients.

Dr. Suozzi says it's rare to be allergic to ingredients like retinoids and salicylic acid. But, it's possible that your skin is sensitive to those ingredients, which could cause a reaction.

How do you know if salicylic acid is working?

Signs that treatment is effective

Wart medications, such as salicylic acid, gradually peel away layers of a wart until it reaches the same level as the skin. People may notice the wart becoming flatter over time.

How long does it take for salicylic acid to clear skin?

When using salicylic acid or other acne treatments, it may take 6-8 weeks to start noticing results. Anyone who does not see an improvement in their acne after this time may wish to contact a doctor or dermatologist for advice on alternative treatment options.

Can salicylic acid make acne worse?

Skin purging occurs because of some ingredients that accelerate your body's natural process of getting rid of dead skin cells. Products that contain certain components—including lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and retinoids—are likely the culprits of your acne breakout.

Does salicylic acid make acne worse before it gets better?

Certain products trigger the process of purging. When changing up your regular skincare routine with new products, it is important to note which products are more likely to cause skin purging. Retinoids such as Tretinoin, acids such as salicylic, and benzoyl peroxide are just a few of the products that cause purging.

Should I put salicylic acid on at night or morning?

Use Salicylic Acid in the morning and Retinol at night. Those with more sensitive skin may need to use these products on alternate days, or reduce Salicylic Acid use to once a week or as and when needed.

Can I put salicylic acid everyday?

"If salicylic acid is an ingredient in your cleanser, it is fine to use it every day." However, if you are using an exfoliant that has salicylic acid in the formula, Dr. Hu advises only using the product three times per week, to avoid over-exfoliating the skin and drying it out.

What does salicylic acid purging look like?

Purging breakouts look like tiny, red bumps on the skin that are painful when touched. Often, there may be whiteheads and blackheads that appear along with the bumps.

What does overuse of salicylic acid look like?

Some may find their skin is itchy, others may notice areas of redness, flaky patches of skin, and even painful to touch. If you experience any of these, even in the mildest state, stop using your product containing salicylic acid and seek the help of a dermatologist.

Is salicylic good for hormonal acne?

Salicylic acid and glycolic acid products can potentially benefit hormonal acne patients, as well. "Salicylic acid can help reduce inflammation and pimple size and glycolic acid will exfoliate the skin's surface, which helps keep pores clear," Dr. Hartman says.

What to avoid with salicylic acid?

AHAs and BHAs, such as glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids should never be used with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an acid, too, and is unstable, so the pH balance will be thrown off by layering these ingredients together and might as well be useless.

What is better than salicylic acid?

Benzoyl peroxide is an active ingredient that is a little more powerful than salicylic acid, and works to penetrate the pores by breaking down the dead skin cells. “Benzoyl peroxide works by reducing and killing bacteria that cause acne, thereby reducing acne itself.

What can I pair with salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid works more effectively when layered with niacinamide. Niacinamide is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and helps with acne. It's always good to use salicylic acid in a cleanser or a face mask and layer it with niacinamide.

How long should you leave 2% salicylic acid on your face?

Apply plaster at bedtime, leave in place for at least 8 hours, remove plaster in the morning, and repeat every 24 hours as needed.
For acne:
  1. Adults—Use one to three times a day.
  2. Children 2 years of age and older—Use one to three times a day.
  3. Children younger than 2 years of age—Use is not recommended.

How long should I let salicylic acid sit before moisturizer?

Wait 20 minutes before applying your serum and/or moisturizer to one side, but the other side of your face, apply those next steps immediately.

What happens if you leave salicylic acid on too long?

It is used in the treatment of acne, dandruff, seborrhea, or psoriasis, and to remove corns, calluses, and warts. Though it has so many good benefits, when used for a prolonged time, it can cause a rare but serious allergic reaction or severe skin irritation.

Why am I still breaking out with a good skincare routine?

Usually, it occurs due to several things such as an unhealthy lifestyle, rarely exercising, eating too many high-calorie foods, consuming fatty foods, excess stress, and lack of sleep. Unfortunately, this condition is often ignored and not immediately corrected so that in the end only triggering more acne to your skin.

Am I purging or breaking out?

Purging is a sign that the product is working and you should continue with the treatment as prescribed. After a few weeks of purging, your skin and acne will have noticeably improved. Breaking out is when your skin is reacting because it is sensitive to something in the new product.

Does salicylic acid remove acne overnight?

You've probably seen these emergency pimple treatments at the drugstore — usually an extra-strong solution of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. And yep, they can actually get rid of pimples overnight.

Can I apply salicylic acid on popped acne?

Apply a topical salicylic acid to the spot.

If you find the over-the-counter creams to be too harsh and drying, try a toner with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid works to promote the shedding of the epidermis more readily, open clogged pores and neutralize bacteria within.

Can salicylic acid cause cystic acne?

Like I mentioned earlier, salicylic acid and sulfur won't help cystic acne. It can make it even worse if it dries out or irritates your skin.

What is better for acne retinol or salicylic acid?

Retinol is known for smoothing skin and targeting blemishes, while salicylic acid is primarily used as an exfoliator that unclogs pores. Used together, these two ingredients work together for smooth, clear, glowing skin.

How many days a week should I use salicylic acid?

You can use your salicylic acid cleanser every day, but you should not use an exfoliant that contains salicylic acid more than three times per week to avoid drying your skin.

Should salicylic acid be applied to wet or dry face?

Since salicylic acid exfoliates your skin and increases your cell turnover rate, you don't want too much of the product penetrating too deep. This can increase the risk of skin irritations [5] and redness. Thus, it is advisable to use salicylic acid on dry skin.

Can you use salicylic acid 2% twice a day?

You are able to use salicylic acid twice daily, but only after your skin has built its tolerance. Oily and acne prone skin will benefit from frequent application, however precautionary actions should always be followed when using this potent ingredient.

What percentage of salicylic acid is good for acne?

When it comes down to what percentage of salicylic acid is good for acne, here's our rule of thumb: Most skin types, especially normal to oily, can get away with using 2%. If your skin tends to be on the dry or sensitive side, start with a lower percentage or opt for the 2% but use it 2-3 times a week instead of daily.

How long should you use salicylic acid for acne?

Before giving up, try to use your salicylic acid product for at least eight weeks. Most studies of salicylic acid show that acne typically starts to disappear after eight to 12 weeks of continuous use.

Does salicylic acid remove acne scars?

Salicylic acid

It's considered to be one of the best treatments for acne scars. You can add products with salicylic acid into your daily routine, or your skin care specialist may use it for less frequent chemical peels. It might take a few weeks to see a difference when using salicylic acid.

Is salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide better for acne?

If you have blackheads and whiteheads, salicylic acid alone should work well to clear out your pores. If your acne tends to be inflammatory, such as papules and pustules, opt for benzoyl peroxide to stop outbreaks at the source. For sensitive skin, start with salicylic acid, since it's less likely to cause irritation.

Does salicylic acid get rid of blackheads?

Use Products With Salicylic Acid

One go-to ingredient for eliminating blackheads is salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that increases cell turnover and unclogs pores, says Saedi. Suozzi adds that the acne treatment can help dry active acne lesions because it is a mild chemical irritant.

Does salicylic acid suits everyone?

While Salicylic Acid is soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties, it is not suited to everyone. If you are dealing with something like Eczema or Rosacea, always consult your dermatologist before using a Salicylic Acid-based product.

What hormone cures acne?

Anti androgen treatments are helpful in treating hormonal acne as they address the underlying cause of the acne. They are also very effective for many people and can mean that other treatments that either cause irritation (such as creams) or are not good in the long term (such as antibiotics) can be stopped.

How I cleared my hormonal acne?

What else can I do to clear hormonal acne?
  1. Wash your face in the morning and again in the evening.
  2. Apply no more than a pea-size amount of any acne product. Applying too much can dry out your skin and increase irritation.
  3. Wear sunscreen every day.
  4. Use only noncomedogenic products to reduce your risk of clogged pores.

What hormones make acne worse?

Fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can cause zits and pimples to pop up. Typically, these fluctuations happen mostly during menstruation cycles, pregnancy and menopause. During these times of increased hormones, the body produces more sebum, an oily, waxy substance.

Does salicylic acid work for everyone?

While salicylic acid is good for any skin type, Dr. Hu says that people who have acne-prone and oily skin will benefit the most from this ingredient as it has anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe irritation, combat acne problems, and prevent new breakouts.

What is the success rate of salicylic acid?

The cryotherapy was combined with daily patient application of salicylic acid to increase destruction of the verruca. In a study of 29 patients with 65 warts, the authors found this method successful in 58 warts in 25 patients, showing a 89.2% rate of eradication of Verrucae in 86.2% of patients.

Does salicylic acid work on deep acne?

Salicylic acid works best on blackheads and whiteheads but it does have some benefits is cysts as well. Cystic acne is often driven from internal sources such as hormones and genetic makeups so topical treatments are not always enough to treat this condition.

How do you get rid of blackheads if salicylic acid doesn't work?

For more stubborn blackheads, go with a retinoid cream

"Retinoids can help treat blackheads and clogged pores by reducing the stickiness of the cells that clog pores, as well as speeding up the rate at which the skin turns over and regenerates," Dr. Marchbein says.

Will salicylic acid even my skin tone?

One of the lesser known benefits of salicylic acid is its ability to help reduce the appearance of blemishes and hyperpigmentation [2] on the skin. Salicylic acid can be useful in helping to even the skin tone and reduce discoloration due to its astringent properties [3].

Is witch hazel the same as salicylic acid?

Witch Hazel: One of the most natural alternatives to salicylic acid, witch hazel works as an astringent. With witch hazel, you can both tighten your skin and decrease inflammation.

What to put on skin after salicylic acid?

The percentage of salicylic acid in these topical treatments are the highest you can find and so expect to experience dryness and flaking. To counteract this skin-reaction it is best to follow the topical spot treatment with a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid which will help restore moisture.

Is it OK to use salicylic acid everyday?

While it is okay to use salicylic acid every day, it could cause irritation. Many dermatologists, therefore, recommend using the acid in moderation, beginning by applying it three times a week and working up from there.

Does salicylic acid make skin worse before better?

Retinoids such as Tretinoin, acids such as salicylic, and benzoyl peroxide are just a few of the products that cause purging. These products contain active ingredients that increase the skin cell turnover rate, therefore causing your skin to purge.

How many times a week should I put salicylic acid?

Adults—Use the 0.5 to 2% topical solution one to three times a day. Children 2 years of age and older—Use the 0.5 to 2% topical solution one to three times a day.
For acne:
  1. Adults—Use as needed.
  2. Children 2 years of age and older—Use as needed.
  3. Children younger than 2 years of age—Use is not recommended.
Nov 1, 2022

Is benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid better for acne?

If you have blackheads and whiteheads, salicylic acid alone should work well to clear out your pores. If your acne tends to be inflammatory, such as papules and pustules, opt for benzoyl peroxide to stop outbreaks at the source. For sensitive skin, start with salicylic acid, since it's less likely to cause irritation.

Is salicylic acid good for acne everyday?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to use salicylic acid every day. In fact, many people who use this ingredient in their skincare routine find that their skin looks and feels better when they do so. If you are new to using products containing salicylic acid, you may want to start by using them every other day.


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