I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they have no idea what the strongest salicylic acid is, or how to get a prescription for it.
If you’re like me and you’ve struggled with acne or other skin issues, then you might have wondered what is the strongest salicylic acid you can buy?
What Is the Strongest Salicylic Acid You Can Buy?
The strongest salicylic acid available over-the-counter is 10% and comes in a variety of products. It can be found in cleansers, toners, exfoliants, and masks.
If you’re looking for something stronger, you can order it from your doctor or dermatologist.
However, make sure it’s actually salicylic acid and not another ingredient that has similar properties.
How Do You Get a Prescription for Salicylic Acid?
1. Go to a doctor
This is what you’ll have to do if you want a prescription from your doctor, as you cannot usually get one over the counter.
2. Ask for a prescription
You can request that your doctor write down the brand, strength and amount of salicylic acid in milligrams that they prescribe for you—this is important if you want to buy stronger products later on.
3. Get a prescription for specific brands or strengths
If your dermatologist has access to different brands and strengths of salicylic acid, ask him or her which ones have been found to be most effective for treating acne without causing irritation that could lead to redness or dryness at higher doses (2% or more).
4. Use it as directed by your doctor
Make sure to read the label on the medication your doctor prescribes for you, and take it exactly as directed by your doctor, even if you feel better or your symptoms improve before the full course of treatment is over.
5. Make sure you need salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a great treatment for oily skin and mild acne, but it’s not a cure-all.
If you have signs of more serious acne, like cysts or pustules, see a dermatologist before trying salicylic acid.
Can You Use Strong Salicylic Acid on Your Face?
Yes, if you do it correctly. The stronger the concentration of salicylic acid in a product, the more effective it will be at exfoliating the skin.
However, higher concentrations are also more likely to irritate your skin or cause allergic reactions.
That’s why it’s important to choose a product with the right amount of salicylic acid for your needs.
What Is the Best Strength of Salicylic Acid for Acne?
The best strength of salicylic acid for acne depends on how severe your acne is, so it’s hard to give a blanket answer.
However, here are some general guidelines you can use to determine what strength you need:
If you have mild acne, start with a lower percentage (2-5%) of salicylic acid products until you see how your skin reacts to them.
If you find that they’re too irritating or drying, try switching to a higher percentage one or two weeks later once your skin has had time to adjust.
For moderate acne, try using a 5-8% salicylic acid product twice daily (morning and evening) until your skin calms down again.
You may need to continue using it consistently for several months before seeing results.
Where Can You Buy Prescription Strength Salicylic Acid?
Prescription strength salicylic acid is only available through your dermatologist or a licensed medical professional.
If you are interested in using a cosmetic product with salicylic acid, check the label to see if it contains a concentration of 2% or more and make sure that there are no oils or other additives present.
Can You Buy Salicylic Acid Over the Counter?
The good news is that salicylic acid can be purchased over-the-counter in strengths of 2%, 5%, and 10%.
It’s available in a variety of brand names and also comes in pads and gels.
You can use salicylic acid on your face, body, scalp, or any other part of your body that needs it.
The right strength of salicylic acid will be based on the type and severity of your skincare issue.
Mild, superficial breakouts might respond to a mild cleanser with Salicylic Acid of 1% or 2%, but deep, cystic acne might be best treated with a combination of prescription treatments with a higher percentage, like those discussed above.