Salicylic acid is a super easy ingredient to spot in skincare products.
It helps with clearing pores and preventing blackheads, which is why it’s so loved as a BHA compound.
But how many skincare products should you use containing salicylic acid?
How Many Salicylic Acid Products Should You Use?
If you’re wondering how many salicylic acid products you should use, the answer is simple: as many as it takes to clear your skin.
Salicylic acid comes in many different forms, but the most common include:
If you want to treat acne or blackheads on your face, you’ll need to apply an over-the-counter (OTC) topical treatment.
You can use one product that contains salicylic acid or two products with different concentrations of this ingredient — one that treats acne and one that treats blackheads — at the same time.
While using multiple products with salicylic acid may sound like a lot of work, it’s actually pretty easy.
All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Cleanse your skin with an oil-free cleanser before applying any other products.
- Make sure there’s no makeup on your face before cleansing because any residue will interfere with how well salicylic acid works.
- Use warm water instead of hot water so it won’t strip away too much oil from your skin; lukewarm water is ideal.
- Pat dry gently so that excess moisture doesn’t clog pores even more than they already are
Other Active Ingredients to Look for in a Spot Treatment
Here’s our list of active ingredients to look for in an acne spot treatment:
Retinol, tretinoin, and adapalene — are vitamin A derivatives that help heal acne.
They also prevent new breakouts from forming by keeping pores clear.
2. Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria, which reduces inflammation and clears pores.
It can be drying, so it’s often used in combination with other ingredients.
3. Tea tree
Tea tree oil is an antimicrobial ingredient that fights blemishes-causing bacteria while also soothing skin.
4. Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil, known for its cooling effect on the skin, can help reduce redness and swelling associated with breakouts.
5. Green tea extract
Green tea extract contains antioxidants that prevent free radicals from damaging cells — which can lead to spots — while also helping to fade existing blemishes faster than usual by encouraging cell turnover.
6. Azelaic acid
This AHA is another effective way to exfoliate skin and treat blackheads caused by clogged pores.
Like Salicylic acid, Azelaic acid also helps reduce inflammation associated with acne breakouts.
Alternative Acne Treatments to Try if You Don’t Get Results From Using Salicylic Acid
If you have acne and are using salicylic acid to treat it, then you may be wondering what other treatments you can use if you don’t get results from salicylic acid.
Here are the alternatives to try:
1. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel contains tannins that help tighten pores and reduce inflammation associated with acne breakouts on the face or back.
You can buy witch hazel extract in most drugstores, but be sure not to use too much at once because it may irritate your skin if not diluted properly with water first!
Try adding a few drops of witch hazel extract into your favorite toner or astringent solution instead of using just plain water.
2. Topical Retinoids
Topical retinoids are a type of acne treatment that has been around for decades and is still used today because it’s effective and relatively safe.
They work by accelerating the body’s ability to shed dead skin cells, which helps reduce the formation of pimples and blackheads.
Topical retinoids can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over-the-counter from your local pharmacy or grocery store.
Common brands include Tretinoin (Retin A), Adapalene (Differin) and Tazarotene (Tazorac).
Antibiotics fight infections in your body by killing bacteria that cause acne breakouts.
While antibiotics don’t treat non-infectious acne blemishes like whiteheads and blackheads.
4. Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts.
This type of chemical peel offers similar benefits as salicylic acid but doesn’t contain alcohol so it’s less drying on the skin but still works very well at clearing up acne.
5. Lactic Acid
Lactic acid is another alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works by exfoliating your skin.
It has milder effects than salicylic acid because it’s less effective at penetrating pores and dissolving oil.
This makes lactic acid a more suitable choice for sensitive skin than salicylic acid.
Just be careful not to overdo it, as too many products containing salicylic acid could irritate your skin or cause you to break out.
You can test how your skin reacts to the ingredient by trying a few forms and concentrations at once—you know your skin best!