Salicylic acid belongs to the salicylates class of drugs. Salicylic acid being a part of the beta hydroxy acid family, means that the hydroxy part of the molecule is separate from the acid portion of the molecule by two carbon atoms. This structure is essential to salicylic acid’s effectiveness because its structure allows salicylic acid to be more oil soluble, which allows it to penetrate into the pores of the skin.
When applied to the skin, salicylic acid enables the skin to shed dead cells and reduce redness, inflammation, oil, clogged pores, and swelling. Salicylic acid also encourages healing of acne scarring, clear up inflamed and painful pimples, and prevents future breakouts.
As a type of keratolytic medication, it has the ability to improve the skin’s texture by exfoliating both the inner and outer layers of the skin, reducing unevenness and encouraging skin cell turnover.
The ability of salicylic acid to exfoliate the top layer of the skin makes it an optimal agent for peeling. The principle of peeling involves a controlled chemical injury to the skin in order to prompt it to rejuvenate, which would lead to the smoothening of the skin and the improvement of its surface texture.