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It’s rare for a skincare product to go viral on Twitter, so when one does, you pay attention.
This month @kaseyonnuh tweeted a photo of The Perfector Salicylic Acid Body Wash from Naturium with the caption, “Everyone should own this body wash you’re going to have the prettiest skin. I been using it since October and them childhood scars and stuff gone.”
The Tweet has almost 16 million views and over 150,000 bookmarks. I ordered it, of course. But first, I asked dermatologists if it could really have the power to get rid of scars. And if not, what would it be good for?
What does salicylic acid do?
“Salicylic acid has several properties,” said Dr. Adeline Kikam, a dermatologist based in South Florida. “It’s what we call a keratolytic agent, so it breaks down dead skin, and it is comedolytic, meaning it’s going to unclog your pores.”
Dr. Julia Tzu, founder and director of Wall Street Dermatology, explained that it targets the sebum or oil in the pores and also breaks down the keratin that can clog them up, which makes it an effective treatment for acne. Since it’s an acid, it can also exfoliate the skin, and it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Many products aimed at treating psoriasis, dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis will also include salicylic acid since it can penetrate deep in the pores, but it’s particularly beneficial for acne.
Though it’s not generally used as a scar remedy, Kikam said that it can help improve the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or post-acne dark spots, and she’s noticed that the internet tends to equate those conditions with true scarring. If you’re looking to treat deep scarring, however, she recommends looking for ingredients like topical retinoids that are able to stimulate collagen and elastin.
Is this Naturium body wash different from any other salicylic acid skin care products?
The fact that Naturium uses encapsulated salicylic acid in this body wash does set it apart from other products, and it has the potential to be more powerful, according to Kikam.
The encapsulated salicylic acid is a bit like an onion, she said, in that layers peel off over time to continuously release the ingredient into the skin. It’s known as a controlled release or time release delivery system.
“Studies performed with 2% encapsulated salicylic acid actually show that it has deeper penetration into the skin, and two-fold delivery of the salicylic acid compared to non-encapsulated or free form salicylic acid,” she said.
Kikam also loves the other ingredients in this body wash, like glycerin and linoleic acid, which can help replenish moisture and boost ceramide levels to promote a healthy skin barrier. Because salicylic acid works to control oil buildup, it can be drying, just like most acne treatments. Naturium aims to balance that out with these linoleic-rich oils and glycerin.
Still, salicylic acid can irritate sensitive skin. Tzu suggests using this body wash once every three days or so to see if your skin can tolerate it before advancing to everyday use. Another way to mitigate irritation and calm the skin is to incorporate a non-comedogenic moisturizer after you wash, like this CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.
Otherwise, products like The Perfector body wash with salicylic acid are generally safe to use topically with minimal risk. Just make sure to moisturize, don’t forget sunscreen so that you can avoid additional irritation or burning, and enjoy the potentially skin-beautifying results. Stay tuned for an update on my own personal journey.
You can buy Naturium The Perfector Salicylic Acid Skin Smoothing Body Wash from Target for around $14.