Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are one of the many different types of acne. They’re a non-inflamed collection of debris including dirt, oil, sweat and dead skin that has clogged a pore. If a clogged pore isn’t trapped under the skin and so is exposed to the air, the debris will oxidise and turn grey or black, leading to a blackhead (which despite common belief are not those dark pores on your nose).
These two kinds of acne are the most common and – thankfully – curable. They fall under the ‘non-inflammatory’ acne umbrella, which describes their tendency to be un-inflamed (read: not red) and to also linger for a long time. That’s because your body isn’t recognising them as an infection, so while they aren’t as inflamed, they also fly under the radar and avoid attack from your immune system.
With just one powerhouse ingredient you can tackle both of these annoying types of acne super effectively:
Salicylic Acid for non-inflammatory acne
Salicylic acid, also known as Beta-Hydroxy Acid or BHA for short, is an oil-soluble derivative of willow bark (this is also where aspirin comes from!). It’s often found in percentages up to 2% and is considered a type of chemical exfoliation.
How does it work for acne?
Salicylic acid is highly effective by entering each clogged pore and clearing it by dissolving and dislodging trapped debris. It is also anti-inflammatory, which will help to reduce redness and fight the additional type of acne known as inflammatory acne. Salicylic acid is also excellent for treating keratosis pilaris – those tiny red bumps aka. chicken skin – on the arms.
Great salicylic acid products to try
Salicylic (like most skin care actives) requires a specific pH range to be effective. Below are some tried and tested products that have awesome acne-fighting capabilities thanks to salicylic acid. Purchase them or read about them to educate yourself and find your own to pop into your routine!
Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Treatment Lotion is a good choice for your first foray into salicylic acid as it’s lightweight, affordable and easy to find.
Similarly, if you’re on a tight budget or go through your product quickly but want a thicker cream, try out the massive CeraVe Renewing SA Cream Salicylic Acid Body Moisturizer for Rough and Bumpy Skin.
If you have sensitive skin or want a bare-bones routine, reach for the plain and simple The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.
This is my personal favourite and current salicylic acid product, straight from Korea and super gentle – Cosrx Bha Blackhead Power Liquid.
Widely regarded as one of the most effective salicylic acid products, this is a classic and reliable place to start and is jam-packed full of other great-for-skin ingredients – Paulas Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant.
Now go on, choose the right treatment product to go in your skin care routine and finally beat stubborn blackheads and whiteheads!