Salicylic Acid For Blackheads, Whiteheads, Acne Scars

Salicylic Acid For Blackheads, Whiteheads, Acne Scars

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Salicylic acid is a very sought-after skincare ingredient, especially among people who struggle with skin concerns such as blackheads, whiteheads, clogged pores, dull skin, etc.
Salicylic acid is an effective exfoliator that can be used to remove dead skin cells and clean out pores, while treating a wide range of skin concerns, leaving the skin visibly clearer and softer.
In this article, we are going to discuss salicylic acid for blackheads, whiteheads, and acne scars, how it works, its benefits, how to incorporate it into your skincare routine, and the potential side effects.
Salicylic acid is a carbon-based organic compound extracted from the willow plant, although scientists can also produce it in a laboratory. It is used to treat skin disorders, mainly acne and acne scars, clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and bacterial growth.
It is typically found in a wide variety of beauty products, including moisturizers, spot treatments, serums, cleansers, toners, body washes, and more.

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in most skin-care products. It’s soluble in oil and applying it on your skin helps shed off the dead skin on the surface, and finds its way into your skin pores.
It works by dissolving the excess oil and hindering further solid oil formation. This prevents acne and even helps to treat or lessen existing cases of the condition. Basically, it should take you a few weeks of use to see its full effect.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid for Your Skin (Blackheads, Whiteheads, Acne Scars)

Salicylic acid can prevent or treat a variety of skin conditions based on its unique properties. Here are some of the skin disorders that salicylic acid can treat:


Sometimes, small black bumps appear at the surface of your skin on the face, arms, neck, shoulders, or chest. They form after dead skin cells and oil clog the hair follicles beneath your skin.
The skin opens and exposes the bump to the air, causing it to darken because of the oxidation process; thus the name blackhead.
Salicylic acid will clear or significantly reduce the blackheads on your skin by:
  • Eliminating the dead skin cells – The abrasive effect of the acid will help get rid of the unwanted cells to expose the skin pores.
  • Breaking down the excess oil – This helps prevent clogging and formation of painful oil lumps that may end up giving you discomfort. It is that pain and discomfort that prompts you to pop up the rigid oil with your fingers.
  • Preventing further oil accumulation by helping excrete the excess. Salicylic acid softens the skin passages to allow a smooth excretion process where oil wastes do not solidify.


Like the blackheads, whiteheads are the result of a combination of dead cells, oils, and impurities on your skin. However, in a whitehead, the pores are not exposed to the air. Thus, they end up as yellow or white pus, which is the color of the oil.
We are almost certain that you often get the temptation to pop up the pus using your fingers. Well, you should avoid doing so, as it could further damage your skin. Salicylic acid will do the trick by:
  • Opening up and softening the clogged skin pores. This helps get rid of the excess oil lumps and pus.
  • Maintaining your skin in a state that prevents further oil saturation. It is another way of saying that the substance provides service to your skin.

Acne Scars

With these marks, it might feel like you are undergoing double punishment, first, you fight the acne, and now you are struggling to get rid of the scars!
These normally form when the tissues beneath your skin are damaged because of the presence of acne, or as a result of constantly picking at existing pimples, blackheads or whiteheads. They are a painful reminder of a previous encounter with acne.
The good news is that it is possible to treat the condition using salicylic acid. The substance exfoliates the skin, helping it regenerate faster and evenly. It may be irritating when applying it on your skin, but the result is worth the effort.

Note: Salicylic acid is also known as a great treatment for keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), hyperpigmentation, and can also be used to soothe redness and inflammation on the face and body.

How To Incorporate Salicylic Acid Into Your Skincare Routine?

Salicylic acid can be used as a home-based treatment, which you can purchase as an over-the-counter product or after the prescription of a dermatologist. Thus, you can use your own discretion when applying it.
You can add salicylic acid to your skincare routine in any product form you prefer. Whether it’s a serum, a moisturizer, a spot treatment, or even a cleanser, you can find the right salicylic product for your needs.
The ingredient is mainly found in skincare products in concentrations between 0.5% and 2%, these concentrations are generally well tolerated by the skin.
However, you must consider the sensitivity of your skin when incorporating salicylic acid into your daily routine. Some people will prefer applying it once or twice a day. Apply it moderately at first until you understand how much of it your skin can handle.

For more sensitive skin, you should apply a product with a low concentration or a wash-off product to minimize the potential side effects. DO NOT use it with another exfoliate, unless you want to complicate the situation on your skin.

While you use your discretion to determine where and how much of the substance to apply, don’t ignore any directions on the package after purchasing the product. Otherwise, salicylic acid will not fail to surprise you with some side effects.

Side effects of Salicylic Acid

The majority of over-the-counter salicylic acid-containing products are well-tolerated by the skin and can be used on a daily basis.
However, the reaction of your skin to salicylic acid is mainly dependent on your skin type. We recommend that you first understand your skin type and the likely impact of the salicylic acid on it.
You might experience the following after applying the product:
  • Dryness– Salicylic acid is more suitable for those with oily skin. Dry or eczema-vulnerable skin will be itchy after applying the ingredient. However, there is good news. You can still apply it with a suitable moisturizer to lubricate your skin.
  • Irritation – You might experience a burning sensation or irritation during the initial stages of applying salicylic acid. As you get accustomed to using it, the reaction should get mild. If they get worse over time, consult your dermatologist immediately. You should avoid having the product coming into contact with your eyes.
  • Sun sensitivity– Applying salicylic acid leaves your skin prone to the harshness of the sun’s rays. Be sure to protect yourself from the sun by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen while using it to avoid cases of sunburns. If you must work outside during the day, apply the chemical to your skin at night.

Bottom Line

Despite the possible side effects of salicylic acid, it is one of the ideal solutions to acne-related problems. If you experience blackheads, whiteheads, or acne scars, grab a salicylic acid product to apply on your skin.
Please ensure that you follow the directions on the package to avoid adverse reactions after using the product. If need be, consult qualified physicians to assist in your effort to restore your damaged skin.
Judy Rose

Hi, it’s Judy!

I’m a passionate skincare specialist and writer. I have more than 7 years of experience as a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer and editor, and I’m extremely passionate about what I do.