If you struggle with blackheads you’ll know what a pain it is to get rid of them. Sure, you might squeeze them out or draw them out with a mask but before you know it they’re back. Worse yet, if left untreated, clogged pores can lead to actual pimples. Fortunately, there is a secret weapon you can use in the war against blackheads and spots and that’s beta hydroxy acid (BHA), also known as salicylic acid.

While most people know about alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) like glycolic and lactic acid, many are confused about BHA, so let’s break it down for you. AHAs do a great job of exfoliating on the surface of your skin. BHA, however, has smaller molecules so it’s able to exfoliate ‘below’. Essentially, it penetrates deep into your pores to dissolve the dead skin and oil that clogs them in a quest to help keep them clean and clear.

If you’ve got an oily, acne-prone skin type, you’ll definitely want to create a skincare routine that includes BHA as it can do wondrous things in regard to exfoliating the lining of your pores and, because it’s got skin calming properties, it can also help reduce inflammation.

Using BHA at home

Most face washes aimed at those with congested skin contain BHA (it’s listed in the ingredients as ‘salicylic acid’) and that’s helpful but, because the product is rinsed off, most of it goes down the drain rather than remain on your face. This is why it’s important to look out for leave-on products that contain BHA.

One of our favourite serums for troubled skin is SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Solution toner. A refreshing alcohol-free formula, it includes AHAs to exfoliate the surface of your skin as well as BHA to get deep inside your pores. Be wary of using toners that contain alcohol in them. They might feel great initially as they’re able to strip your skin of oil, but the key word here is ‘strip’. Over time this can dehydrate your skin and its response is to immediately start producing more oil in a bid to compensate. In short, you create a viscous cycle.

Another leave-on gem is Lamelle Clarity Corrective AM +. An oil-free light-textured day cream, it provides moisture without the weight. Aside from BHA, it also contains an extremely gentle exfoliating version of retinol plus healing growth factors and peptides to help minimise the look of post-inflammatory pigmentation – those dark marks that pimples often leave behind when they clear.

Lastly, if you’re dealing with an active breakout, reach for an ‘on the spot’ treatment like NeoStrata Targeted Spot Treatment Gel. It contains 2% BHA as well as a triple blend of AHAs and even a form of retinol to help reduce the pimple and gently speed up cellular turnover to rapidly improve the time it takes to clear and heal.

Peel and reveal

At Skin Renewal we have several solutions packages to help treat acne-prone skin. Most of them involve a peel called Beta Peel Lite that uses, you guessed it, BHA.

BHA peels can be used on any skin type on those as young as teens. They help to improve the look of acne and very mild pigmentation, refine pores and skin texture and calm inflammation. Depending on the strength of the peel, you can leave the office with a mere glow but, if you have a more intense treatment, you might experience mild redness and dryness that leads to a bit of scaling that stops within three days to a week after the treatment.

After care is easy. You simply have to care for your skin using gentle, acid-free products for about five days after your peel and protect it from the sun as it will be temporarily more sensitive to UV rays. There’s also nothing stopping you from wearing make-up straight after your procedure if it was mild and the very next day if it was intense.

In short, if you’ve got an oily or acne-prone skin type, BHA is your complexion’s new bestie so be sure to include it in your homecare routine and consider a visit to Skin Renewal to take advantage of our new acne treatment solutions.

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