Anti-Aging Skin Care

Salicylic acid cleanser rocks for adult acne & more

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: September 6, 2018
using salicylic acid

Salicylic acid cleanser for adult acne and more!

Salicylic acid is “supposedly” only for acne. Not so! Read on.

using salicylic acid

  • If you have oily to normal skin tone and are looking for the best cleanser,look nono more. You have not thought about using salicylic acid cleanser, right?
  • Here’s what it can do for you even if you don’t get breakouts of acne. It is (ours is!!) a great, constant exfoliator due to the properties of the salicylic acid itself (yes we’ll discuss!) It will even out skin tone, and if you had blemishes, it will fade those scars.
  • Now for those of you with adult acne, let’s discuss why that is and what you can do about it-the one-two punch you need.


Why do we get acne as an adult?


Research shows 35% of women in their 30s, 26% in their 40s, and 15% age 50+ battle breakouts. Here, four common triggers for adult acne. Let’s discuss why,meaning what are the “triggers.”

Your Diet:
  • Greasy foods don’t cause oily faces… despite what mom told you.
  • However,there are indeed foods which may exacerbate acne in adults.
  • Simple carbs and sugar: Any food that leads to a spike in your blood sugar (such as pasta, bread, and sweets) can trigger skin’s inflammatory response and provoke a breakout.
  • It’s no wonder to me that this is the case as these foods are the worse culprits to cause inflammation in the first place! That’s why curcumin often helps acne-by quieting down systemic inflammation.



causes acne in skin

A small study presented at the February 2011 meeting of the Academy of Dermatology found a correlation between the amount of chocolate that participants consumed (only men were studied, so as to minimize the role of hormonal influence) and the number of acne lesions they developed.




  • Several studies have shown a link between dairy products and pimples, perhaps because of the hormones that are present in these foods.
  • Traditional dairy products can come from hormone-fed animals, so they often have more hormones than their organic counterparts.
  • So-as always I recommend buying organic.



  • Researchers have found a relationship between stress = high cortisol levels and acne flare-ups. In response to stress, our bodies also produce more androgens (male hormones.)
  • These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne.
  • Stress can lead to acne by signaling the release of cortisol, a hormone that tells your body to produce more pore-clogging oil.
  • This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress. Natural stress relief supplements often help acne.


Your GI-tract health:

Cleaning up your microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics is a must. By the way probiotics have been shown to be yet another way to look young!


 Hormonal Changes:

no skin appeal


Whenever your body experiences a spike in “male” hormones such as testosterone, oil production increases—and that can cause a clogged pore where P. acnes bacteria grows, leading to inflammation and pimples.


  • This may occur more frequently during perimenopause, but it also happens just before your period.
  • Women over the age of 33 are more likely to experiecne premenstrual pimples than younger women are, according to one study.
  • I don’t know about you but I find the concept of dealing with zits and wrinkles at the same time to be quite unfair!


 High Testosterone or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):

cystic acne

Hormonally based health issues such as high testosterone levels or polycystic ovarian syndrome, are often-overlooked causes of acne. PCOS affects 5 to 10% of women, and many of them suffer for years without realizing they have it.



If your acne is accompanied by excessive hair growth or irregular periods, it’s worth talking to your Gyn,who should do blood testing and an ultrasound to determine whether or not you have PCOS. If you do, the condition—and other types of hormone imbalances—can often be treated with a medication such as  “anti-androgen”. Spironalactone is frequently helpful.


Hair and skin care products:

If you have adult acne, you should read the labels on your skin care and hair care products. Make sure that you see one of the following terms on every container:

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Oil-free
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Non-acnegenic

how to get rid of acne scarsYou want to make sure all products contain these labels. Think about what you use in your hair-and then you sleep on your pillow,right? If so-there’s an often overlooked source of zits!

Note that every single face , body, and hair care product we have on this website is not going to cause acne, or skin allergies-it’s as pure as you can be when you use a Moorspa product.

Family history:

Does a first degree relative, such as a parent, brother, or sister have acne? Findings from research suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition for acne. People who have this pre-disposition also are more likely to get adult acne.

Medication side effects:

  • Acne is a side effect of some medicines.
  • If you suspect that a medicine is triggering your acne or making it worse, continue taking the medicine — but talk with the doctor who prescribed it.
  • Ask if acne is a possible side effect. Or nowadays just “google it”.
  • If you see that acne is a possible side effect, ask if you can take a different medicine.
  • If you can’t,  you may want to see a dermatologist who can help you control the acne if what I recommend here doesn’t do the trick which it will most of the time.


Undiagnosed medical conditions:

Sometimes, acne is a sign of an underlying medical condition. Once the medical condition is diagnosed and treated, the acne often clears.

Let’s talk about the making of a pimple:
  • Acne is basically blocked pores (blackheads)  that have become infected.
  • Most pimples begin with blackheads, which are the result of oil and dead cells getting trapped in a pore where they block the duct and mix with bacteria.
  • They then turn black when exposed to air.
  • Red pimples develop when blackheads become inflamed and they spread when touched with dirty hands. When the pimple becomes infected, it develops a whitehead or pustule.


What NOT to do:

Your skin at 13 is very different from your skin at 30.

As teenagers, our skin is relatively thick. As we age, our skin thins out and becomes more sensitive to products. Those over-the-counter acne products with 10% benzoyl peroxide or 2% salicylic acid? Too harsh for even a 30-year-old… let alone a 50 year old!

•The good news is products come in varying strengths.

• Stick to benzoyl peroxide products in the 2% range and start with a gentle but effective salicylic acid cleanser such as the one we have which will NOT irritate “mature” skin. I use it and love it by the way.

•I’ll talk about both of these in a moment….and why you should never use ONLY benzoyl peroxide products….. and yes a clarisonic “soft brush” is just fine.




•Many acne sufferers think the more product the use, the better their skin will get.

•And stay away from facial scrubs. Even the most gentle ones can tear at skin.

•Exfoliators which are natural like a salicylic acid cleanser are the way to go for a gentle but effective and necessary exfoliation. If you just use a benzoyl peroxide wash and lotion (as per a very popular informercial) what will happen is that yet, the BP kills bacteria but it also thickens skin, ultimately traps more, so warning,warning on that! 

Why exactly is it best to use a salicylic acid cleanser?

Salicyic acid is a member of a class of medications known as keratolytics. Keratolytics work by softening the top layer of the skin (epidermis), making it easier to remove dead and shedding skin cells.

Acne occurs in part when there is a buildup of dead skin cells in the pores. Salicylic acid helps normalize the shedding of the skin cells inside the pores and helps prevent the clogging that, along with oil and bacteria, can produce pimples.

acne scars

Salicylic acid breaks up the cells, which stick together in the inner lining of the skin pore, thereby declogging blackheads and whiteheads. It works as a keratolytic, bacteriocide and comedolytic agent by causing the cells of the epidermis to shed more readily, opening clogged pores and neutralizing bacteria within. It can help fade some types of acne scars too.



  • Salicylic acid is also known to break down blackheads and whiteheads as well as other types of acne.
  • It then prevents pores from clogging up again by constricting pore diameter, and allowing room for new cell growth.
  • Because of its effect on skin cells, salicylic acid is used in several shampoos to treat dandruff.


In addition, like aspirin, a chemical cousin, salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help hinder breakouts. Now that makes sense doesn’t it?

  • A salicylic acid acne treatment with a cleanser will help to rid your skin of excess cells by exfoliating the skin and unclogging your  pores.
  • Since a cleanser is the mildest and most effective delivery to treat acne without irritation, it’s by far the best choice if you are over 30.  It’s fine to use it continuously – if you stop to use it, the pores will block up again and acne will come back. It has the additional benefit of minimizing the appearance of pore size.
  • Due to the similar aspirin ingredients, people that are allergic to aspirin or have rosacea should steer clear. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should avoid salicylic acid too.


It gets rid of dead skin on top, so that other medications can get to the inflamed skin underneath more easily. Since salicylic acid  does not have any effect on the production of the sebum or P. Acnes (one of the types of bacteria which cause acne), it is best to couple your salicylic cleanser with a mild benzoyl peroxide product if you don’t get rapid clearing within a couple of weeks.

Additional benes of using a salicylic acid cleanser:

get rid of acne acars

Constant mild exfoliation stimulates the skin’s building blocks-collagen and elastin.

Constant use will make your skin look younger by getting rid of dead  cell build-up.


Useage will fade dark spots and post-blemish discoloration. This is why I use it in my personal skincare regimen-it just brightens up your skin, acne or no acne.

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