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hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid


Salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid are esteemed ingredients in the skincare world, beloved for their respective exfoliating and hydrating properties. Improved skin clarity, increased moisture retention and an overall brighter complexion are just a few of the many advantages to using these popular ingredients. In fact, you might find that your skin type and concerns are likely to benefit even more from the combined power of salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid. Below, La Roche-Posay has created an essential guide to unpack the synergistic relationship between hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid and provide expert tips to integrating both ingredients into your skincare ritual.

hyaluronic acid


Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that naturally occurs on the skin’s surface. It is also a humectant that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, so it both attracts water to the skin’s surface and helps to retain moisture. Since it is something of a hydrating hero in skincare and makeup products, there are many benefits of hyaluronic acid. By hydrating the skin’s surface for a plumper, softer complexion, hyaluronic acid helps to helps to diminish visible signs of ageing. This water-binding ingredient also support the skin moisture barrier, making it highly efficacious for dry, mild allergy-prone and sensitive skin – read our guide to hyaluronic acid for sensitive skin to learn more. As we’ll soon discover, it’s these properties that make hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid such a harmonious duo. 

salicylic acid benefits


Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA) commonly used as a chemical exfoliant in skincare. As a BHA, salicylic acid is lipid-soluble – meaning it breaks down in oil – which allows it to deeply penetrate layers of the skin to help loosen the bonds between dead skin cells that cause comedones. This sloughing away of dead skin cells helps to unclog pores, refine texture, brighten skin, regulate sebum production and reduce the recurrence of breakouts. Salicylic acid can be found many different types of skincare products including serum concentrates, cleansers, exfoliators and even moisturisers to help manage oily and blemish-prone skin, and other skin clarity concerns. 

woman using hyaluronic acid serum


When it comes introducing these two ingredients to your skincare regimen, it doesn’t have to be a matter of salicylic acid vs hyaluronic acid. Since salicylic acid helps with refining and decongesting the skin, and hyaluronic acid is a natural hydrator, this pair can complement each other quite well. Sensitive and dry skin types will particularly benefit from the combination of hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid since the dryness, redness and flaking sometimes associated with exfoliation is mitigated by the hydrating properties of hyaluronic acid. However, even oily skin types can enjoy the combined benefits of salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid. Using a hyaluronic acid serum helps to ensure the skin’s hydration levels are well balanced and the skin doesn’t overcompensate oil removal by producing more.

dermatologist inspects woman's face


Now that we know these ingredients can have a complementary effect, how can you use salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid together in your skincare routine? To benefit from both ingredients, there are a few key points to keep in mind about frequency of use, layering products, and which other ingredients are best avoided. Continue reading for an in-depth guide to building your hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid skincare routine.

woman using hyaluronic acid skincare routine


The first port of call in how to use salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid together is to use your exfoliant first, followed by your hydrating ingredients.

1.    Ensure you start by cleansing your skin. If you experience sensitive, oily or blemish-prone skin, opt for Effaclar Foaming Gel Cleanser to gently remove impurities, reduce sebum and visible redness.

2.    Next, apply Effaclar Anti-Acne Salicylic Acid Serum to freshly cleansed skin. This serum has been formulated to visibly improve breakouts and uneven skin texture.

3.    Once absorbed, apply a few drops of Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum over your face and neck to intensely hydrate, brighten and re-plump the skin. Hyaluronic acid works best when it has other water molecules to bind itself to, so we suggest applying to dampened skin. This anti-ageing hyaluronic acid serum is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive.

4.Seal in hydration with a moisturiser. Oily, combination and blemish-prone skin types may benefit from a pore-refining moisturiser like Effaclar Duo+M Anti Imperfections Moisturiser which is formulated with salicylic acid. Other skin types might opt for a hyaluronic-based moisturiser like Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Moisturiser.

layering ingredients


When introducing salicylic acid into your skincare regimen, it’s important to avoid over-exfoliating, which can rob the skin of its natural oils, compromise the skin moisture barrier and exacerbate some skin concerns. We recommend introducing salicylic acid slowly, beginning with usage 2-3 times per week before gradually increasing the frequency of application. More tolerant skin types like oily and combination may benefit from using a chemical exfoliant every day, while more sensitive skin types may need to limit application to once or twice per week. As with introducing any new potent ingredient, monitor your skin for signs of sensitivity – this is where the pairing of hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid will help bolster your skincare routine.

retinol serum


It’s important to remember that not all ingredients play well with others. Since hyaluronic acid is a naturally produced molecule that keeps the skin nourished, it pairs well with a number of powerful ingredients like retinol or vitamin C. Conversely, layering salicylic acid with other potent ingredients may not be suitable for every skin type. 

For instance, salicylic acid and retinol  can stimulate robust skin cell turnover for ageing and blemish-prone skin, but this combination can be too harsh on very dry and sensitive skin. This can also be said for vitamin C and salicylic acid. 

It should also be noted that salicylic acid may increase photosensitivity, so always ensure you regularly apply a high-SPF broad spectrum sunscreen at the end of your salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid skincare regimen.

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