What Is It?
Widely available in over-the-counter skin care products in 0.5 – 2% strength, salicylic acid helps shed skin cells as well as reduce inflammation in the skin.
Strength of Evidence
Average 43% reduction in acne after 4 weeks
- Zheng, Y. et al. Efficacy and safety of 2% supramolecular salicylic acid compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide/0.1% adapalene in the acne treatment: a randomized, split-face, open-label, single-center study. Cutan Ocul Toxicol 38, 48–54 (2019).
- Zheng, Y. et al. Clinical evidence on the efficacy and safety of an antioxidant optimized 1.5% salicylic acid (SA) cream in the treatment of facial acne: an open, baseline-controlled clinical study. Skin Res Technol 19, 125–130 (2013).
- Eady, E., Burke, B., Pulling, K. & Cunliffe, W. The benefit of 2% salicylic acid lotion in acne a placebo-controlled study. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 7, 93–96 (1996).
Low side effects and adverse reactions
Acne.org's Real World Take
Easy to find and with low side effects, but don’t be surprised if you are left wishing for better results after using it for a while. Any acid on its own is unlikely to dramatically clear acne.