Salicylic soap is a type of cosmetic cleansing product that contains salicylic acid. Usually used to treat acne on the face and body, salicylic soap may contain other beneficial acne-fighting ingredients, such as sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, or charcoal. It is easy to find salicylic soap at any beauty store or drugstore where cosmetics are sold.
Salicylic soap gets its name from salicin, a derivative of willow bark and some herbs, such as meadowsweet. Like its fellow willow-bark substance aspirin, salicin has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and treat a variety of conditions. Originally, ancient medicine incorporated salicin into compounds to treat fevers, but it was later realized that high doses of the substance caused serious gastric problems. Today, it is used primarily in the treatment of skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea.
Often, salicylic soap is offered as part of a skin regime to reduce acne. Other products in the regime may include a toner, spot treatment, and moisturizer. It is not uncommon for salicylic acid to be present in all of the products in a treatment line, but the soap is usually the first and one of the most important steps. In addition to the cleansing properties of regular soap, salicylic soap provides a boost of acne fighting salicylic acid to skin at its cleanest and most open.
It is important to know that not all soap is created equal. Read ingredients lists carefully, as many types of soap is made with ingredients that may dry or irritate the skin or even be counterproductive to acne fighting. Soaps that contain alcohol, sodium laurel sulfate, parabens, and lots of artificial scents may be irritating to sensitive skin. Look for soaps that are alcohol-free and that contain the fewest amounts of ingredients, to help avoid most irritations.
The strength of the soap is also an important consideration. Salicylic acid comes in different solution strengths, usually 2.5%, 5%, or even 10%. Salicylic soap with a 10% solution may be marketed as “extra” or “maximum strength.” Generally, as the solution percentage rises, so do the drying effects of a product. Some studies have found that lower percentage solutions may actually be more effective for treating acne overall.
When using salicylic soap for face and body, wet the skin with warm water to encourage pores to open. Rub the soap on, creating a thick lather. Even if the formula is for facial skin only, the soap may also be good for treating acne breakouts on the chest or back. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry using a clean towel.