Exfoliation is key when it comes to getting smooth, supple, youthful-looking skin. And there’s no better way to slough off dead skin cells than with a chemical exfoliant. While many of us are familiar with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). The lesser-known beta-hydroxy acid (BHAs) are equally as adept at giving glowing skin.
What are BHAs?
Hydroxy acids in general are a group of molecules that are known their ability to firm, smooth and tighten skin. They’re excellent exfoliators and their ability to refresh skin’s surface leaves it looking younger and more radiant. Beta-hydroxy acid is also known as salicylic acid. It is a naturally occurring oil-soluble acid that’s derived from the bark of willow trees.
How do BHAs work?
Being oil soluble, BHA is able to penetrate the lipid layers between skin more deeply and rapidly than water-soluble ingredients. It also highly keratolytic and comedolytic. Keratolytic compounds are great exfoliants, helping to soften and slough off dead skin cells. Salicylic acid does this by breaking down the attachments between cells in the outer layers of the skin (desmosomes). As a comedolytic ingredient, it also penetrates pores to unclog them and prevent the formation of blemishes that occur as a result of trapped oil and dead skin cells.
What do BHAs do for the skin?
The deep exfoliating power of salicylic acid gives it the ability to improve skin’s texture, reduce the appearance of large pores and fine lines, and even out skin tone. Although it’s one of the best exfoliators you can get your hands on, that’s not the only reason you should include it in your skincare routine. If you’re one of the 73% of people who have had acne during their lifetime, you might be familiar with salicylic acid. As this beta-hydroxy acid has the ability to penetrate pores, it is especially good at unclogging them to prevent breakouts, including blackheads and whiteheads. It’s also great for decreasing the inflammation that is a characteristic of acne and other skin concerns.
Who will benefit from incorporating BHAs into their skincare routine?
Anyone with acne-prone skin will benefit from using products that contain salicylic acid. It’s pore-penetrating properties ensure that it’s not only able to clear existing blemishes, but also prevents future breakouts. It’s also a great solution for correcting uneven skin tone and reducing inflammation caused by other skin disorders.
However, for those who have sensitive or dry skin, it can cause irritation, redness and even peeling. You should also avoid applying it to large areas, as this can lead to salicylate poisoning. If you’re looking to exfoliate your entire body, rather go for a gentle salt-based scrub, followed by a nourishing moisturiser filled with natural ingredients.
Whether you’re looking for an ingredient that will control acne, prevent breakouts and exfoliate your skin, salicylic acid is the way to go. With the ability to slough off dead skin cells and penetrate the skin to clear out pores, it’s also great for evening out skin tone and reducing the appearance of fine lines.