Can salicylic acid reduce the appearance of acne scars?

Can salicylic acid reduce the appearance of acne scars?

We already know what a superstar ingredient salicylic acid is in decongesting blocked pores and preventing new blockages – but could it also be working to reduce the appearance of acne scars? We spoke to skincare expert, Fiona Tuck to find out.

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“It does depend on the type of scar,” explains Tuck. While salicylic acid may not be able to help raised or pitted scars, “if it is superficial inflammatory hyperpigmentation, salicylic can help loosen the dead skin cells, brighten the skin and aid penetration of actives to target the pigment.” Due to the way salicylic acid (and general BHAs) work to loosen the bonds between dead skin cells, it can be beneficial for scarring as it assists in speeding up the surface healing process.

In regards to timeline however, Tuck advises, “it depends on the healing of the individual skin and the type of scars, however, it would take between six to 12 weeks to see an improvement, “as it takes [this long] for the skin cells to regenerate…That being said, not all scars are treatable, so professional advice would be recommended,” she says.

As a result, while salicylic acid can be of benefit for superficial acne scarring, there are more effective ingredients that could be used. Look to products that feature ingredients such as vitamin A (otherwise known as retinol) or vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid), commonly used for its brightening properties. If you are planning on trying salicylic acid however, “it may be beneficial to combine treatments such as collagen induction therapy [for pitted scars],” she says, “depending on the severity of the condition.”  

Have you used salicylic acid on acne scars before? What are your go-to products for healing scars?

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