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Is salicylic acid safe for teenagers?

Salicylic acid is generally considered safe for teenagers to use, as it is a commonly used skincare ingredient that is effective for treating oily and acne-prone skin. However, it's important to use salicylic acid in moderation and follow the instructions on the product label, as it can be drying and irritating to the skin if used in excess. 


Even though salicylic acid is safe for teenagers, It's also a good idea to patch test any new skincare product/ingredient before using it on your entire face, to ensure that you do not have an adverse reaction.


If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, it's a good idea to consult with a dermatologist before using salicylic acid.

Image: Salicylic acid in liquid form. Text: Salicylic Acid

The Role of Salicylic Acid in Skincare

Before delving into its safety, let's explore what makes salicylic acid a staple in acne treatment regimens. Its keratolytic properties allow it to exfoliate the skin gently, sloughing off dead skin cells and preventing pore clogging. Moreover, its ability to penetrate the oil that clogs pores makes it exceptionally effective in reducing blackheads and whiteheads.


Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), is renowned for its ability to exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation and acne. Given its prevalence in a wide range of skincare products, it's crucial to understand its effects, particularly for teenagers whose skin is often more sensitive and prone to acne.


Here are some benefits of using Salicylic acid safely:

  • Helps to unclog pores: Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that can help to dissolve the build-up of oil and dead skin cells in the pores, which can help to prevent breakouts.
  • Reduces excess oil production: Salicylic acid can safely help to regulate the production of oil in the skin, which can help to reduce the shiny, greasy appearance of oily skin.
  • Reduces inflammation: Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce redness and swelling associated with acne.
  • Exfoliates the skin: Salicylic acid can help to safely and gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and leaving the skin looking smoother and more radiant.


In general, it's a good idea for teenagers with oily skin to look for safe and gentle skincare products that are formulated for oily or acne-prone skin and contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). These ingredients can help to unclog pores, reduce excess oil production, and improve the appearance of acne. It's also important to use a gentle, oil-free cleanser and moisturiser and to avoid heavy, creamy products that can clog pores.


Bare addiction products that include Salicylic acid or similar ingredients which are safe and gentle for teenagers/teen skin are:

Is Salicylic Acid Safe For Teenagers?

The consensus among dermatologists, including guidance from the British Association of Dermatologists, suggests that salicylic acid, when used correctly, is safe for teenagers. The key lies in its concentration and the frequency of application. Most over-the-counter products containing salicylic acid have a concentration of 0.5% to 2%, which is generally considered safe for teenage skin.


However, it's essential for teenagers to start with lower concentrations and monitor their skin's reaction, gradually increasing frequency as their skin adjusts. Overuse or too high a concentration can lead to skin irritation, dryness, or peeling, counteracting the benefits by potentially worsening acne or causing new skin issues.

Supporting Research and Guidelines

Research and guidelines from UK health organizations, such as the NHS, provide further reassurance on the safety of salicylic acid for teenagers. They recommend it as part of an acne treatment plan, highlighting its effectiveness when part of a broader skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing and moisturising.


Moreover, a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology indicates that salicylic acid is not only effective but also well-tolerated by individuals with mild to moderate acne, including teenagers. This aligns with the advice provided by skincare experts and dermatologists across the UK, emphasising the importance of following product instructions and not exceeding the recommended usage.

Incorporating Salicylic Acid into Teenage Skincare Routines

For teenagers looking to incorporate salicylic acid into their skincare routine, here are a few tips to ensure its safe use:

  • Start with products that have a lower concentration of salicylic acid - 0.5% to 2% - with best results usually achieved at 2%.
  • Apply salicylic acid to clean, dry skin, but limit its use to once a day initially to observe how your skin responds.
  • Always follow up with a non-comedogenic (lightweight so it doesn't clog the pores) moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated.
  • Use sunscreen during the day, as salicylic acid can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation.

If you are using salicylic acid and experiencing dryness, irritation, or other adverse reactions, it's important to stop using the product and consult with a dermatologist. It's also a good idea to follow up with a moisturiser after using salicylic acid to help hydrate the skin and reduce the risk of irritation.

As we have established Salicylic acid is safe for teenagers, our range uses effective and safe amounts across our range. In particular, our spot cream, cleanser, and serum are enriched with salicylic acid, and are meticulously designed to target the primary concerns of teenage skin – mainly acne and blemishes. Each product within the range not only harnesses the clarifying power of salicylic acid but also incorporates a symphony of complementary ingredients, ensuring a balanced routine that nurtures skin health.


  • Spot Cream: Tailored for precision treatment, the Bare Addiction Spot Cream zeroes in on breakouts, applying the direct action of salicylic acid to dissolve blockages in pores and reduce the appearance of blemishes. This focused approach allows for swift intervention on specific problem areas without overwhelming the entire face with potent actives.
  • Cleanser: The cornerstone of any skincare regimen, the cleanser by Bare Addiction, uses salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin, removing the day’s buildup of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Its formula is balanced with hydrating ingredients to ensure the skin remains moisturized and not stripped of its natural oils, maintaining the skin's delicate moisture barrier.
  • Serum: Acting as a powerhouse of targeted action, the serum delivers a concentrated dose of salicylic acid deep into the skin, amplifying its blemish-fighting capabilities. This product is especially adept at not only treating existing acne but also preventing new breakouts, all while soothing the skin with anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Importance of a Balanced Routine:

While salicylic acid is safe for teenagers and pivotal in combating acne, a truly effective skincare routine for teenagers incorporates additional ingredients to complement its action. Hydrating other safe ingredients like hyaluronic acid ensure that the skin retains moisture, combating the potential drying effects of acne treatments. Niacinamide works alongside salicylic acid to reduce inflammation and support the skin barrier, enhancing overall skin texture and tone. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, provide environmental protection and promote skin healing.


Bare Addiction’s formulation philosophy acknowledges that while tackling acne is a priority, maintaining the overall health and resilience of the skin is paramount. By integrating salicylic acid with a cocktail of supporting ingredients, Bare Addiction products offer a holistic approach to skincare. This balanced routine ensures that teenage skin is not only cleared of blemishes but is also nourished, supported, and protected against future issues, embodying a comprehensive care system that goes beyond mere acne treatment.

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