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If succumbing to the influence of shelfies (*raises hand*) left you with a bunch of skincare you never use, it might be time to pare down your routine to a few trusted and effective products.

Enter: salicylic acid cleansers, multifunctional skin saviors that cut through oil and exfoliate the skin, keeping mild acne and fine lines at bay.

“Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) in the category of active ingredients called salicylates, derived from willow bark,” says Ava Shamban, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, Calif. As opposed to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that simply exfoliate the skin’s surface layer, BHAs like salicylic acid penetrate through oil and work hard to unclog pores.“It gets to work like a little jackhammer,” Dr. Shamban adds, breaking down dead skin cells and dissolving impurities that build up and cause breakouts. Its exfoliating properties can also help manage psoriasis, even skin tone, and combat signs of aging by reducing hyper-pigmentation and photo damage.

If you’ve ever had acne, chances are you’ve used something that contains salicylic acid before. It’s found in spot treatments, serums, and even moisturizers, so why use it in a cleanser?“It’s short contact,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., a Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist and member of Prevention’s Medical Review Board. When you rinse off the active ingredient rather than leaving it on long-term, it can help mitigate irritation and dryness. Also, unlike topical treatments, when you rinse the cleanser, you’re“literally removing” the top layer of dead skin cells, which is a plus, adds Dr. Shamban.

But if you have very dry, easily inflamed skin, salicylic acid—even in cleanser form—may not be for you. Dr. Gohara warns that those with eczema and rosacea should tread lightly with the ingredient, and Orit Markowitz, M.D., F.A.A.D., CEO and Founder of OptiSkin, says that those with cystic, under-the-skin breakouts may not see clearer skin after using it. However, those with oily, breakout-prone skin should definitely give it a try.

How to choose and use the best salicylic acid cleanser

Experiment with textures: Generally, a gel cleanser absorbs oil and“foams are great when you need something to really penetrate into the skin,” says Dr. Markowitz. However, just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a hydrating, creamy wash—especially if you are easily irritated. It’s really not a one-size-fits-all journey, but a gel texture is the most middle-of-the-road option to start with.

Pay attention to potency: Most OTC salicylic acid cleansers contain 2% of the active ingredient, which is a standard amount. But it’s still something to watch out for, because the stronger the percentage, the more potential for irritation there is.

Watch for oils and hydrators: If a salicylic acid cleanser contains a hydrator like shea butter or ceramides, their occlusive properties can actually increase the acid’s strength by trapping it into the skin, says Dr. Markowitz. Dr. Shamban says calming ingredients like green tea, aloe vera, allantoin, and niacinamide can soothe potential irritation. And, of course, stay away from oil-based ingredients that might worsen breakouts.

Extra exfoliators are a plus: Salicylic acid’s efficacy can be increased when combined with AHAs like lactic or glycolic acid, says Dr. Shamban.

After choosing a cleanser, start with daily use at night. If your skin tolerates that, you can increase use to twice daily—especially if you deal with maskne. After cleansing, repair your skin’s barrier with moisturizer and be weary of topicals like spot treatments, especially if they’re prescription strength.“You have to be a little careful starting to combine these products,” Dr. Markowitz says, because you could get a reaction. When in doubt, consult your derm first.

Now that you have a better understanding of salicylic acid cleansers and how they work, here’s your shopping list of the best dermatologist-recommended and top-rated picks.

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Blast Heard in Saudi Arabia's Dhahran, Say Two Residents

DUBAI (Reuters) - A blast was heard in Saudi Arabia's eastern city of Dhahran on Sunday, two residents said, but the cause was not known and there was no immediate confirmation from Saudi authorities.

One resident told Reuters that the explosion was heard around 8:30 pm Saudi time while the other resident put the time at around 8:00 pm.

The kingdom's Eastern Province is home to most of the oil production and export facilities of oil company Saudi Aramco.

(Reporting by Gulf team; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

Tags: Iran, Yemen, Middle East, Saudi Arabia

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