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how to use Use Salicylic Acid

This Skincare Ingredient Can Work Wonders

But only if you use it right.

If you suffer from oily or breakout-prone skin, you probably will have heard of salicylic acid, the magical ingredient that can fight acne, clear skin, and dissolve oil. Salicylic acid is also known as a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and is derived from willow bark. In skincare, there are two groups of acids: AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acid) – and both exfoliate the skin. 

Many people make mistakes in skincare – skincare experts and aestheticians included. When I first learned of salicylic acid, I overused it and damaged my skin barrier. Now I know better, so here’s what you need to know to not make the same mistake as me!

What’s the Difference Between AHA and BHA?

BHA is oil-soluble and can penetrate through pores and decongested dead skin and oil that may be stuck there, whereas AHA cannot as it is water-soluble. AHA works on the surface of the skin by removing dead skin and revealing new skin, while BHA works on a deeper level by decongesting clogged pores.

What Does Salicylic Acid Do?

Salicylic acid breaks down the bonds between skin cells that act like glue holding the skin together. It can also dissolve skin debris that clogs pores. Some of its pros and cons include:

Pros

  • It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • It effectively treats blackheads and whiteheads. 
  • It exfoliates surfaces and inside pores.
  • It reduces excessive oiliness.

Cons

  • Overuse can cause sensitivity and skin dryness.
  • It could cause a burning or stinging sensation.
  • It could lead to dry or flaky skin.

How Should You Use Salicylic Acid?

I recommend ignoring what the label says and using salicylic acid as needed because when it comes to skin, one size does not fit all. Some products recommend using it daily in the morning and at night, which can work great for certain skin types, but it can be too irritating for others and may sensitise the skin. 

I would recommend incorporating the acid into your routine two to three evenings a week, and then building it up gradually. If it is a cleanser-based salicylic acid, start by using it in the morning. And if it is a cream or oil-based cleanser, start by using it in the evening. You could even begin with a salicylic cleanser and slowly introduce salicylic serum as and when you need it. In the case of salicylic acid serums, you can use it as a spot treatment in areas where it’s necessary, such as for blackheads or whiteheads.

However, if you have acne or cystic acne, benzoyl peroxide may be a better alternative for you as it is more anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, though ongoing use can cause ageing and damage to the skin, so make sure you consult a professional aesthetician or dermatologist. As always, make sure to use sunscreen, and avoid using it on the same day as when you’re applying retinol. Salicylic acid is also a salicylate, which is part of the aspirin family, so you should avoid it if you have any allergies to aspirin.

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Cleansers

SA Smoothing Cleanser, Cerave

SA Smoothing Cleanser, Cerave

This cleanser by Cerave effectively exfoliates and and promotes radiance. Its key ingredients include salicylic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D. It can improve skin texture, reduce oiliness and blackheads, and smoothen and hydrate your skin. I love that it doesn’t make your skin feel tight or stripped of its natural oils

Tip: If you don’t usually use a foam cleanser, alternate with a cream-, oil-, or, balm-based cleanser until you get used to it. 

Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel

Blemish + Age Cleanser, Skinceuticals 

This cleanser by Skinceuticals can help prime your skin prior to professional in-clinic skin rejuvenating treatments. It can remove excess oil, accelerate skin surface exfoliation, smooth irregularities, and brighten the skin. Its key ingredients include glycolic and salicylic acid.

Tip: If you lather this up and leave it on for five minutes whilst in the bath or shower, it also acts as a mini exfoliating mask.

Serums

Skinceuticals Blemish and Age Defence

Blemish + Age Defense, Skinceuticals

This oil-free face serum reduces the formation of acne and clogged pores, while improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Its key ingredients include 2% dioic acid with an alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid formulation. It does tingle when applied on your skin, which is to be expected. You can spot-treat areas with it, whether it’s breakouts or blackheads, but it will cause drying and flaking if used in excess.

Tip: Follow this serum with a moisturiser with ceramides to lock in the moisture and avoid crusting when applied to breakouts.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, Paula’s Choice

This is a great product if you’re unsure at first as it comes in two different sizes. It can improve redness, breakouts, blackheads, and enlarged pores while exfoliating dead skin cells, smoothing wrinkles, and evening out the skin tone – all while being gentle enough for sensitive skin with the perfect 2% of salicylic acid (the maximum for at-home use). It also contains green tea, which can do wonders for your skin. 

Tip: Don’t use this on cotton pads as it wastes the product, while also making it more abrasive. It’s best to gently tap it in with your fingers. 

Liquid Exfoliant Pads

Zo Skin Health Complexion Renewal Pads

Complexion Renewal Pads, Zo Skin Health 

These pads act as dual-action exfoliators that remove dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores and reduce oiliness. Additionally, it can also calm and soothe irritated or inflamed skin, and provide a clearer complexion. Its key ingredients include glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid. I love that this product is made for us lazy girls as it’s so easy to use. Initially, I wouldn’t use these twice a day (as stated) as it could be too much for your skin, so start by using it two to three times a week, and take it from there.

Tip: These come in a pack of 60 and are pricey, but you can cut them in half and double your use. If you’re using them every few days, they will last about three months. Another hack: tip the tub upside down occasionally so that the serum is fully absorbed into the pad. The pads do actually come with a lot of serum, but you can sometimes squeeze them a little so that when you’re done, you have some extra serum to use at the bottom of the container.

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Back To Basics: The Skincare Routine For Oily & Acne Prone Skin

A simple and effective way to care for oily and acne prone skin types.

In our last Back to Basic Skincare Series we looked at how to implement a minimalistic skincare routine for dry and dehydrated skin with the right products. In this blog, we are reviewing a skin care routine for oily skin and sharing with you the best skincare routine for oily skin, and best products and formulations to keep your skin healthy and looking its best!

We know how difficult it can be to care for and balance out an oily skin type. The challenge is even greater for those suffering from regular acne breakouts with the wrong oily skin care routine. Although we can’t make them disappear overnight, there are ways to diminish their appearance and get your skin to be less reactive with a concise and effective regime. In order to achieve those results, we need to clear up some popular myths surrounding the skin care routine for oily skin, excess oil production and breakouts.

Oily or combination skin types are genetically predisposed. This is the type of skin that you were born with and not a condition you can treat and cure. Oily skin types exist when there is an overproduction of sebum from the sebaceous glands of the dermis which gives a shine and greasy look to the skin. This hyperactivity produces excess oils that overfill the pores and enlarge them. The sebum in the pores mixes with dirt and bacteria. Dead skin cells get trapped and form blackheads and whiteheads under the surface of the skin.  Blackheads and whiteheads are a different type of skin condition collectively known as acne. 

How Do I Know if I Have Oily Skin?

You can look out for the following signs and characteristics such as excessive shine. Oily skin tends to have a persistent shine, particularly in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin). This shine can be noticeable throughout the day, even after washing your face. One might even notice enlarged pores. Oily skin often has visibly larger pores, especially in the aforementioned T-zone area. These pores can be more noticeable and may even be clogged with oil, debris, or blackheads.

If you suffer from frequent breakouts, that’s because oily skin is prone to acne breakouts, including whiteheads, blackheads, and other forms of pimple-like blemishes. See if your breakouts appear more frequently and may be concentrated in the T-zone. This is a sign of oily skin.

Have you noticed your makeup melting? If your makeup tends to slide off or lose its matte finish quickly, it could be an indication of oily skin. The excess oil can interfere with the adherence and longevity of makeup products.

Let’s talk about greasy texture. Oily skin often feels greasy or slick to the touch, especially on the surface of your face. When you blot your skin with a tissue or blotting paper, you may notice oil residue on the paper.

If you experience a combination of these signs, it is likely that you have oily skin.

Step-by-Step Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

The best way to address oily skin care routine, oily skin types and reduce acne is to follow a good skin care routine for oily skin that helps balance out the oil production on the skin while keeping it well hydrated and avoid any disruption on the dermis barrier. Avoid the use of any harsh or drying products such as alcohol and other astringents, or irritating ingredients like menthol, lemon, eucalyptus as well as, aromatic oils and solid rich formulations such as bar soaps that clog the pores, making matters worse by exacerbating the oil secretion on the skin.

For a simple and effective skin care routine for oily skin we recommend the following steps:

Skincare For Oily & Acne Prone Skin

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleanse your skin twice daily, in the morning and night, using a mild water-soluble facial cleanser to remove excess oils and avoid buildup in the pores. As mentioned above, avoid any aggravating ingredients and/or harsh scrubs and cleansing tools. Remember, the tingling sensation does not equal cleaner skin, it’s a sign of irritation that is not good for any skin type.

Our picks:

  • Clean & Clear daily pore cleanser oil free
  • Garnier skinactive micellar foaming gel cleanser combination to oily skin, even sensitive
  • Cerave renewing SA cleanser
  • Kiehls ultra facial cleanser for all skin types

Oil-Free Daily Pore Cleanser, PRP AED 21.95, available at head2toes.ae

Micellar Gel Face Wash Sensitive Skin, PRP AED 25, available at asos.com

Foaming Cleanser Normal To Oily Skin, PRP AED 50.31, available at caretobeauty.com

Ultra Facial Cleanser, PRP AED 98, available at kiehls.ae

Step 2: Toner

This is one of the most important steps of a skin care routine for oily skin. A well formulated, alcohol-free exfoliating toner will replenish your skin with antioxidants and calming ingredients, minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and remove any residues of makeup or dirt that could possibly clog the pores. An exfoliating toner that contains BHA’s such as salicylic acid is a fantastic fit for oily skin types as it is oil soluble and can get deep down in the pores unclogging them from the roots and keeping those black and white heads at bay.

Our picks:

  • COSRX BHA blackhead power liquid
  • Bioderma sebium pore refiner
  • The Inkey List PHa toner
  • Derma e soothing toner with anti-aging

Bha Blackhead Power Liquid, PRP AED 120.15, available at carethy.net

Sebium Pore Refiner, PRP AED 77, available at carrefouruae.com

Pha Toner, PRP AED 64.95, available at cultbeauty.co.uk

Anti-Wrinkle Toner, PRP AED 49, available at asteronline.com

Step 3: Moisturiser

Contrary to common belief, oily skin types need to stay well hydrated to keep the dermis acting and looking healthy. Proper levels of hydration on the skin are fundamental to keep it functioning and regenerating at is best. To learn more about the differences between dehydrated and dry skin check our first Back to Basics skincare instalment. When choosing a moisturiser focus on an oil-free, lightweight water-based formulation, that will effectively hydrate your skin without clogging your pores or leaving a heavy and greasy feeling to it.

Our picks:

  • Clinique moisture surge hydrating lotion
  • Glow Recipe watermelon glow pink juice moisturizer
  • Elf oil control liquid lotion
  • Drunk Elephant f-balm electrolyte waterfacial

Moisture Surge Eye™ 96-Hour Hydro-Filler Concentrate, PRP AED 220, available at sephora.ae

Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer, PRP AED 97.50, available at cultbeauty.co.uk

Oil Control Liquid Lotion, PRP AED 70.99, available at amazon.ae

F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial, PRP AED 195, available at cultbeauty.co.uk

Step 4: SPF

Nowadays they are so many elegant and sophisticated sun block formulations that are oil free and non-comedogenic. The Gaggler prefers products in a lotion form that contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide which have been proven to prevent acne breakouts. In addition, proper sun protection as part of a skin care routine for oily skin helps you prevent any pigmentation scaring.

Our picks:

  • Shiseido ultimate sun protection SPF 50 sunscreen + wetforce for sensitive skin + children
  • Peter Thomas Roth Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45
  • Neutrogena ultra sheer face sunscreen SPF45
  • La Roche Posay anthelious 50 mineral ultra light sunscreen fluid SPF50 face

Expert Sun Protection Lotion Wetforce SPF50+ Face And Body, PRP AED 147.70, available at sweetcare.com

Max Mineral Tinted Broad Spectrum SPF 45, PRP AED 153.86, available at revolve.com

Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF45, PRP AED 114, available at noon.com

Anthelios Spf50+ Shaka Fluid, PRP AED 110, available at uae.sharafdg.com

Step 5: Specific treatments and serums

If you suffer from acne prone skin and regular breakouts you would want to introduce a treatment serum on your regime that contains benzyl peroxide to help regulate oil production during the day while reducing redness and inflammation; and a retinol serum to keep skin clear and rejuvenated at night time. Another great ingredient you can include in your regiment is the powerful antioxidant niacinamide that helps out with the appearance of enlarged pores, while also soothing and calming the skin and providing anti-aging benefits.

Our picks:

  • Drunk Elephant framboise glycolic night serum
  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 2%
  • Proactiv emergency blemish relief
  • La Roche Posay effaclar duo corrective unclogging care

Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, PRP AED 450, available at noon.com

Niacinamide Plus Zinc Serum, PRP AED 41, available at lookfantastic.ae

Emergency Blemish Relief, PRP AED 173, available at noon.com

Effaclar Duo[+] Corrective Unclogging Care, PRP AED 81.27, available at caretobeauty.com

Things to Avoid

When it comes to caring for oily skin, there are a few key things to avoid. Firstly, steer clear of heavy, oil-based moisturizers and skincare products that can exacerbate the oiliness. Instead, opt for lightweight, oil-free or water-based alternatives that won’t clog pores. Secondly, avoid harsh cleansers or soaps that strip away too much oil, as this can lead to increased oil production. Opt for gentle, non-comedogenic cleansers that won’t disrupt the skin’s natural balance. Next, refrain from over-washing your face, as this can strip away essential oils and trigger more oil production. Stick to washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Lastly, try to avoid heavy makeup and opt for oil-free or non-comedogenic formulas to prevent clogged pores and breakouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best night skincare routine for oily skin?

A night skincare routine for oily skin should focus on controlling excess oil production and preventing breakouts. Start by thoroughly cleansing your face with a gentle, oil-free cleanser to remove dirt and sebum. Afterward, use an exfoliating toner containing salicylic acid to unclog pores and reduce oiliness. Next, apply a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to hydrate your skin without adding extra grease. Consider using a spot treatment on any active acne or blemishes. Lastly, before bed, apply a thin layer of oil-free or gel-based night cream to help balance oil production while you sleep.

How do you take care of oily skin everyday?

To take care of oily skin everyday, start by cleansing your face twice a day with a gentle, oil-free cleanser. Use oil-free or gel-based products that won’t clog pores. Apply a good sunscreen to protect your skin. We do strongly recommend the use oil-absorbing sheets throughout the day to control excess oil. It’s best to not use heavy, pore-clogging makeup and hydrate your skin with a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer.

How can I maintain my oily skin naturally?

The mantra is simple:
Cleanse, Hydrate, Exfoliate!

Opt for natural exfoliants like sugar or oatmeal. Our team at The Gaggler recommends natural exfoliating recipes:

  1. Use a Sugar Scrub: Mix equal parts of brown sugar and coconut oil. Gently massage onto damp skin in circular motions, then rinse off with warm water.
  2. We love a good Oatmeal Scrub: Combine ground oatmeal, honey, and a few drops of lemon juice. Apply to your face, let it sit for a few minutes, then gently scrub and rinse off.
  3. Weekend Coffee Grounds Scrub: Mix used coffee grounds with a bit of olive oil or honey. Massage onto the skin in circular motions, then rinse off.
  4. The Famous Baking Soda Scrub: Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water. Apply to damp skin and gently rub in small circular motions before rinsing off.

A controlled diet is always recommended. It’s best to consume a balanced diet with less greasy or fried foods, as they can contribute to oiliness.

Staying hydrated is the secret sauce to great skin regardless of the skin type Drink enough water to keep your skin hydrated from within, which can help balance oil production.
Try our latest water bottles to help you reach that 2 litre goal!

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The Gaggler team is passionate about finding and sharing great products with our readers. We take pride in researching and testing products to find the best of the best, and we only recommend things that we love and think you will, too.

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