What Happens When You Use Salicylic Acid Every Day

Salicylic acid is an ingredient found in many skincare products, particularly acne creams and cleansers. It has the same anti-inflammatory ingredients as aspirin, can help de-clog pores, and is also an exfoliator that helps get rid of dry skin to prevent future break outs (via HuffPost). It sounds like magic in a bottle, but what is it really?

"Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid," cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller told Allure. "[This] means the hydroxy part of the molecule is separated from the acid part by two carbon atoms, as opposed to an alpha hydroxy acid where they're separated by one carbon atom." It is derived from willow bark, putting it in an ingredient class known as salicylates, and that's what makes it work wonders on our skin. "This structure is important because it makes salicylic acid more oil-soluble so it can penetrate into the pores of the skin," Schueller says.

But what happens if you use salicylic acid as part of your everyday skincare routine?

Salicylic acid can be a miracle product (in moderation)

Michaella Bolder, a skincare expert, told Harper's Bazaar, "Salicylic acid 0.5 percent or 2 percent is always best for acne sufferers and oily skin types as this mild ingredient effectively regulates your sebum production while the antibacterial properties work to eliminate bacteria on the surface of the skin. In my opinion, it is always best when built into a cleanser and is safe to use daily at this stage."

Like most things, however, salicylic acid shouldn't be used in excess, particularly when pairing it with other skincare products. Using salicylic acid in conjunction with other strong exfoliation routines, for instance, should be avoided because it can cause extreme dryness.

Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian cautions that you can overdo salicylic acid. People with sensitive skin (like rosacea), those who take medication (like blood thinners), are pregnant, or have an aspirin allergy should probably avoid salicylic acid as well. "The primary negative side effect of salicylic acid is its ability to irritate and dry skin in those that are very sensitive or those who overuse it," she explained.

Experts recommend that when you first start using salicylic acid in your skincare regimen, you should use it every other day to see how your skin responds. After about two weeks, if you skin is happy, you can increase to daily use.

While there are plenty of skincare products that aren't worth the money, salicylic acid can be an incredibly useful part of your daily routine.