There may be thousands of products swearing to zap your zits, but there's one ingredient at the heart of many that's actually doing the work: salicylic acid. Your first encounter with the ingredient was probably around age 13; now it's a mainstay in your medicine cabinet. But what does it actually do? Do you need 0.5% or 2%? How often can you use it? We checked with an expert, dermatologist Dr. Murad, to get the answers and picked out a few of our favourite salicylic acid-based formulas, below.
1 / 4
Dab this product on the affected area to knock out a pimple fast--it kills bacteria and packs a maximum strength amount: 2% salicylic acid.
2 / 4
A portable solution to use at the first sign of a zit, this pen packs 0.5% salicylic acid, so it's good for multiple applications.
3 / 4
In an ideal world a zit would only appear at night, and thus, be treated in private. But when a blemish appears during the day, try layering a medicated concealer over affected areas. This one has 2% salicylic acid and doesn't get dry or cake-y.
4 / 4
Thanks to its low amount of salicylic acid (0.5%), this can be used on ultra-sensitive skin. It reduces redness and swelling around the pimple and can actually help it heal, too.