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Association d'actifs avec l'acide salicylique.

What Active Ingredients Can Salicylic Acid Be Combined With?

Renowned in medicine since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory and anti-fever properties, salicylic acid is widely used today. A true ally of oily (+) skin, it gently exfoliates the epidermis, stimulates cell renewal and inhibits pore clogging. However, a bad mixture with another active ingredient can hinder its effectiveness. Read our advice on how to best combine salicylic acid for the best possible results.

Published October 20, 2021, updated on February 27, 2024, by Maylis, Chemical Engineer — 6 min read

Salicylic Acid, the Right Combinations

To boost its effectiveness and regenerative effect on the epidermis, salicylic acid can be combined with certain cosmetic ingredients:

  • Zinc:

    Derived from beet, this trace element naturally present in the body is optimal in the treatment of imperfections of all kinds. It acts on 3 levels: inflammation, excess sebum and bacterial proliferation. It accelerates the healing process and reduces redness. The combination of zinc and salicylic acid accelerates the treatment of blemishes and blackheads. Our local imperfections serum contains 2% salicylic acid and 1% zinc. It is used as a cure for a few weeks and is applied locally. One drop is enough for an isolated pimple. In general, the first results can be observed after only 2 – 3 days of use.

  • Rose Centifolia hydrolate:

    The soothing properties of this floral water are complementary to the purifying action of salicylic acid. Rich in tannins, Rose Centifolia hydrosol is said to have a slightly astringent action, tightening dilated pores and thus helping to refine the skin texture. The purifying tonic contains these two ingredients; this synergy makes it possible to calm the skin, to reduce rednesses, to illuminate the dye and to unify the skin.

  • Benzoyl peroxide:

    This active ingredient is particularly effective in treating rashes and blemishes, while salicylic acid is recommended for its exfoliating and comedolytic properties. Together, the two ingredients work synergistically to fight blemishes of all kinds.

  • Niacinamide:

    This vitamin helps restore the skin's barrier function and participates in the healing process. It reduces marks and redness left by blemishes, such as acne scars. A study showed that when niacinamide was combined with salicylic acid in a skin care product, the hydrolopic film was reinforced, thus reducing insensible water loss, i.e. skin dehydration. To take advantage of these benefits, during your evening routine, after cleansing your skin, you can apply the purifying toner with a cotton pad all over your face before using the Niacinamide 12% unifying serum.

  • Retinol:

    This vitamin A derivative is the key active ingredient in the fight against skin aging. It stimulates the synthesis of elastin and collagen, the fibrous proteins present in the dermis that are essential for the skin's firmness and elasticity. A study has shown that applying a retinol treatment directly after a salicylic acid-based peel can be effective in improving skin marks related to photoaging (pigment spots, wrinkles and fine lines). Potentially irritating, the combination of these two active ingredients is not recommended for sensitive skin. To take advantage of these virtues, during your evening routine, after cleansing your skin, you can apply the purifying tonic with a cotton pad over the entire face before using the Retinol 0.3% wrinkles and fine lines serum.

Salicylic Acid: Associations To Avoid

Generally well tolerated by all skin types, salicylic acid is a powerful organic element. It can be irritating if combined with certain ingredients, such as :

  • Azelaic acid:

This acid is an antioxidant and antibacterial acid that deeply cleanses clogged pores. Its action is very similar to that of salicylic acid. Used in synergy, these two acids can generate an exfoliation too aggressive at the origin of redness and irritations. Thus, it is not recommended to combine them in your beauty routine.

  • Vitamin C:

To bring radiance and luminosity, dull and tired complexions can combine vitamin C and salicylic acid in their daily beauty routine, but be careful not to use them at the same time. In the morning, choose the radiance serum formulated with 11% vitamin C to wake up your complexion and effectively fight against oxidative stress. In the evening, before going to bed, choose to apply the purifying toner containing 1% salicylic acid to refine makeup removal and purify the skin.

  • Glycolic acid and lactic acid:

These active ingredients have the same mode of action as salicylic acid: all three eliminate the dead cells. Used together, they cause excessive exfoliation of the epidermis, which can lead to irritation and compromise the skin barrier.


  • SARKAR R. & al. Glycolic acid peels versus salicylic-mandelic acid peels in active acne vulgaris and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation : a comparative study. Dermatologic Surgery (2009).

  • KERI J.E. & al.The role of zinc in the treatment of acne : a review of the literature. Dermatologic Therapy (2017).

  • Cristina Padula, Chiara Ferretti, Sara Nicoli, Patrizia Santi, Combined Patch Containing Salicylic Acid and Nicotinamide: Role of Drug Interaction, Current Drug Delivery, (2010).

  • Douglas E Kligman, Zoe D Draelos, Combination Superficial Peels With Salicylic Acid and Post-Peel Retinoids, Randomized Controlled Trial, J Drugs Dermatol, (2016).


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