“In general, oil-soluble ingredients penetrate more easily through the lipid layers between skin cells,” explains Dr. Shah. In other words, oil-soluble ingredients can penetrate the skin at a deeper level than their water-soluble counterparts.
Robinson summarizes their differences succinctly. “AHAs work well on the surface of the skin to remove old dead skin and reveal new, younger looking skin,” he says. “Salicylic acid works deeper [and is] can penetrate the pores to unclog them. “
What does salicylic acid do for the skin?
All of this means that salicylic acid can go deep into your skin to do its job. This quality is exactly what makes salicylic acid a potent ingredient for treating acne — especially for blackheads and whiteheads.
As it penetrates the skin, salicylic acid “dissolves skin debris that clogs pores, [acts] as an anti-inflammatory and also helps acne redness and pustules disappear faster,” Naissan O. Wesley, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
According to Schueller and Dr. Wesley, this ingredient can penetrate deep into the skin and actually disrupt the connections between skin cells. “Once it has penetrated the skin, the acidic part of the molecule can dissolve some of the intracellular ‘glue’ that holds the skin cells together,” says Schueller.
Salicylic acid is also an exfoliant
This breakdown of skin cells also promotes exfoliation. Salicylic acid is considered a keratolytic, which means it’s perfect for optimal exfoliation. “Kinolytics soften and slough off the top layer of skin cells,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Salicylic acid also loosens and breaks down desmosomes (the attachments between cells in the outer layer of the skin). “This ‘cleansing’ action encourages exfoliation of the skin and unclogs pores,” says Sue Ann Wee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
“One cause of acne is that skin cells don’t work properly, and instead of cyclically shedding healthy skin cells, they stick together and clog,” says Dr. Nazarian. pores, creating cystic acne and blackheads. “Salicylic acid aids in the removal and loosening of these skin cells and helps to dissolve blackhead. “
Salicylic acid works best on blackheads and whiteheads
Schueller says there are three factors that contribute to acne: the abnormal shedding of skin cells, too much oil, and skin activity. P. acnes bacteria. “Salicylic acid helps address the first cause by dissolving the skin impurities that clog pores and cause breakouts,” he says.
https://www.allure.com/story/what-does-salicylic-acid-do | What exactly does salicylic acid do for your skin? – Expert advice