SPF and Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B5 – some skincare ingredients work even better when they’re together. And, for beauties who regularly break out or struggle with acne, there’s no sweeter pairing than salicylic acid and niacinamide. Find out how to make the most of these active ingredients’ amazing chemistry for your clearest skin ahead.
What is Salicylic Acid?
Salicylic acid is the most common beta hydroxy acid, or BHA. A gold standard anti-acne ingredient, salicylic acid is derived from willow bark.
Like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid, BHA is a keratolytic compound, meaning it dissolves the bonds that hold skin cells within the outer layer of skin. While AHAs and salicylic acids are both popular chemical exfoliants, salicylic acid is far more effective when it comes to fighting pimples and blackheads.
This difference is caused by their different solubilities – AHAs are water-soluble, salicylic acid is oil-soluble. This means that salicylic acid can cut through oil and penetrate – and exfoliate – the skin on a deeper level.
What does Salicylic Acid do?
Salicylic acid has benefits for oily, bumpy, congested and acne-prone skin come from its ability to penetrate the pores and clear out the gunk inside. Exfoliating pores from within, salicylic acid breaks down blockages of oil, dead skin cells and debris that lead to zits.
It also regulates sebum production and tightens oversized pores, while fighting bacteria and soothing angry, red skin. So, whether you want to resolve current breakouts sooner or keep future blemishes at bay, salicylic acid is your oily skin's BFF.
It’s also an excellent anti-acne ingredient to use if you’re worried about dryness. While this can be a side effect of any acid, BHA is considered effective at a relatively low concentration of 1-2% – so you can tackle blemishes without worrying about irritating your skin further.
What is Niacinamide?
Generally considered suitable for all skin types, niacinamide is a well-tolerated, water-soluble form of Vitamin B3. An essential nutrient, B3 is found in foods such as meat, dairy and green vegetables. And it’s incredibly popular in skincare.
Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory, barrier-boosting and brightening properties. So it’s little wonder this all-rounder is a firm dermatologist fave.
What does Niacinamide do?
Niacinamide strengthens the skin barrier and improves hydration by boosting ceramide production, making it a perfect remedy for dehydrated and sensitive skin. Also beneficial for ageing, dull or uneven skin, it was shown in a 12-week study to increase skin elasticity and improve the appearance of fine lines, hyperpigmentation, blotchiness and dark spots.
However, we’re here to talk about breakouts – and niacinamide really is the bee’s knees for anyone with acne-prone skin. Famous for its pore-minimising powers, niacinamide helps prevent and heal breakouts by regulating oil flow and soothing red, irritated skin. Not only is this calming action ideal for those who battle with blemishes, but it can also help with other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea.
Niacinamide also helps with acne scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Vitamin B3 prevents the transfer of melanin to skin cells, hence reducing redness and fading dark marks, aka acting as a skin-brightening agent.
What makes Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide the dream team?
While BHA and niacinamide are amazing ingredients alone, they make a particularly potent anti-acne combo – addressing all the key causes of breakouts. Firstly, they help reduce excess oil production, with niacinamide reducing surface shine and salicylic acid penetrating pores and regulating oil production.
Next, salicylic acid tackles clogged pores to clear breakout-triggering blockages. It also helps reduce bacterial overgrowth – another key cause of acne.
With anti-inflammatory properties, both actives help soothe painful breakouts and, especially in the case of niacinamide, calm redness. They’re also the ultimate pore tighteners, clearing away excess oil and blockages that stretch out pores. The duo also boosts collagen and elastin production for a tighter, smoother complexion overall.
Best ways to use these ingredients in your routine
If you're looking for a way to ease this ingredient combo into your skincare routine, try out our Oil Control Range routine, which contains both ingredients as well as natural prebiotics and Australian botanicals to reduce greasy shine and pesky blemishes.
First, remove surface dirt and excess sebum with the Clearing Cleanser. After rinsing it off, press a damp, warm towel to your face to open your pores. Apply a layer of the Clearing Face Mask with its accompanying applicator brush. Sit back and relax for 10 minutes while it breaks down and extracts pore congestion and rebalances your skin's sebum production and microbiome levels! When the mask starts to change colour, rinse it off with warm water and a clean cloth. Finally, don't forget to restore hydration with 2 pumps of the Clearing Moisturiser, our favourite moisturiser for oily and acne-prone skin. Glow, not shine!
Find these blemish-busting baddies in our Skin Balancing Kit. ⚡️
Written by: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Celeste