Glycolic Acid vs Salicylic Acid: What's The Difference?

Glycolic Acid vs Salicylic Acid: What's The Difference?

Glycolic acid vs salicylic acid

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are two of the most popular skincare ingredients, and they are to be found in a wide range of skincare products, including some that you probably already use right now. Even if you were not already aware of their existence, they are definitely two of the most important ingredients in the world of skincare that you need to know about.

In fact, understanding what they are and most importantly, the main differences between them, can help you to boost your own skincare regiment significantly, leading to much healthier and more beautiful skin in no time.

So let’s take a look at glycolic acid and salicylic acid in turn and see what they are all about, including their main differences and the benefits of using both.

Glycolic Acid

So what is glycolic acid, first of all? This is an alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, which is naturally found in sugarcane. However, these days it is also very often made in a lab too. Either way, one of the main facts of importance about this acid is that it is incredibly small as a molecule. This allows it to pass easily and seamlessly through the skin barrier, which is a big part of what makes it such a useful product in the world of skincare.

The Benefits & Uses

When it is applied to the skin, glycolic acid acts as a very effective exfoliator, and it also works towards retaining moisture very effectively too. It effectively removes dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin, and it does so a lot better than many other products you might have tried in the past. This means that new skin is going to grow back much more quickly.

It has also been known to decrease inflammation, and to be effective against many kinds of acne and related issues. It is especially recommended for those with hyperpigmentation or skin that is showing signs of aging, along with skin which has a lot of acne.

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glycolic acid face wash

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). it’s found naturally in wintergreen leaves, but again is also made in the lab. Additionally, you can find it in the bark of the willow tree. Like glycolic acid, salicylic acid is a good for acne prone skin, which again is one of the main reasons that people use it on their skin. Unlike glycolic acid, however, it can also remove excess sebum, which makes it useful for clogged pores and helps to prevent acne breakouts.

The Benefits & Uses

So that is one of the main benefits and uses of salicylic acid. Beyond that, it is also used for its mild antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, as above. It can reduce the appearance of blackheads quite considerably and effectively, and calm down hyperpigmentation just like glycolic acid can. And it is most commonly used in order to effectively control oily skin, which is where it really shines as a product ingredient.

The Main Differences

The main difference is that glycolic acid is best for oily skin that has signs of aging, whereas salicylic acid is usually best for oily skin that is prone to hyperpigmentation. The bottom line is that glycolic acid is an effective exfoliant (removes dead skin cells), that is also capable of reducing uneven skin tone and fine lines, whereas, salicylic acid is the most effective against acne prone skin, as it removes excess sebum. These might sound similar however, if you know your skin texture, you can know which of these you should mainly be using in your own regiment.

Products With Glycolic Acid & Salicylic Acid

If you are keen to try glycolic acid first hand, then you might want to take a look at Botanic Tree glycolic acid face wash, a beautifully exfoliating cleanser which can help to open up your pores and leave you feeling completely fresh and new. It’s an amazing way to really improve your skincare.

For those with oily skin, we would recommend look into trying the KP exfoliating lotion with salicylic acid. This is again a very effective cleanser for uneven skin tone, and one that is going to work for you in terms of allowing your skin to really come to its former glory. It is also highly beneficial for acne prone skin and helps to prevent acne breakouts. You’ll be amazed at the results you can get here.

As you can see, you can make use of both glycolic and salicylic acids in their own ways, and it’s best to be aware of the benefits of both and how they best can be incorporated to suit your specific skin type.


Glycolic acid face wash


Is glycolic acid safe during pregnancy?

While glycolic acid is generally considered safe for topical use, there is limited research on its safety during pregnancy, and it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using any skincare products while pregnant.

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help exfoliate the skin, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, it is more potent than other AHAs and can potentially cause irritation or dryness if used in high concentrations or if used too frequently.

The safety of glycolic acid during pregnancy is unclear, as there have not been enough studies conducted to determine its safety. Some studies suggest that topical use of glycolic acid in low concentrations may be safe during pregnancy, while others recommend avoiding it altogether. We recommend consulting your healthcare provider for more information regarding pregnancy and the use of AHA's such as glycolic acid.

Can you use glycolic acid with niacinimide?

Yes, you can use glycolic acid with niacinamide, but it's important to introduce them into your skincare routine gradually and in the right order to avoid potential irritation or adverse effects.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can help improve skin texture and tone, reduce inflammation, and regulate sebum production. It is a gentle and non-irritating ingredient that can be used by most skin types, including sensitive skin. 

If you want to use both glycolic acid and niacinamide in your skincare routine, it's best to start by using them on alternate days or at different times of the day. For example, you could use a glycolic acid toner in the morning and a niacinamide serum at night, or vice versa. We of course recommend using the best glycolic acid face wash: Botanic Tree's Glycolic Acid exfoliating face wash

Can I use glycolic acid and salicylic acid if I have dry skin?

While glycolic acid and salicylic acid can be beneficial for some individuals with dry skin, it's essential to use them carefully to prevent excessive dryness and irritation. To avoid over-drying, follow up with a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type after using these acids. Look for products that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides to replenish moisture.

If you find that your skin becomes too dry or sensitive, discontinue the use of these acids and consult a dermatologist for personalized recommendations that address your dry skin concerns effectively. Check out our glycolic acid with ceramides and peptides!

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