Most people’s shaving regimen includes a pretty standard set of products: pre-shave oil, shaving soaps, aftershave, and maybe even alum. But salicylic acid and night cream may be two products worth adding – especially for those who get occasional pimples or other complexion problems.
Salicylic acid has been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat fevers, inflammation and other ailments. It was originally extracted from willow bark, but many of us are more familiar with salicylic acid in its modern form – Aspirin (which is salicylic acid reacted with acetic acid).
Salicylic acid has cosmetic properties that make it a helpful addition to your shaving regimen – especially if you have trouble with occasional pimples.
Salicylic acid is incredibly effective at unclogging pores – cleaning out the dead skin and oils that can lead to pimples. It works by dissolving the substances that cause skin cells to clump together. It is oil soluble, allowing it to penetrate your skin’s natural oil barrier. It’s also anti-inflammatory. The same substance that helps reduce inflamed muscles and joints can help reduce inflammation caused by skin blemishes and shaving.
Using Salicylic Acid
There are many products that contain salicylic acid, but I find the easiest and most practical is a daily face wash containing a low concentration (2%).
The face wash I use serves a few purposes: it cleanses excess oil and dirt from the surface, it has scrubbing beads to physically exfoliate, and the salicylic acid unclogs pores chemically. I use it in the shower before my shave, and at night to remove all the dirt my skin has picked up throughout the day. [Note: I don’t promote any products or brands]
Shaving exposes the skin to the risk of bacterial invasion – it’s a fact of life we have to deal with if we choose to shave. We open our pores, remove some of the natural skin’s defenses, and risk nicks and cuts that can lead to infection. Proper shaving hygiene can minimize a lot of this risk, but adding a salicylic acid cleanser can help clean out pores and reduce/eliminate some complexion problems altogether.
Does it Dry Skin? Yes, so use Night Cream
Yes, salicylic acid can dry your skin out a little. But there is a very easy fix for this – one that I stole from my wife. In fact, the premise of this post should probably be about night cream rather than salicylic acid, because it is something that anyone can/should be using.
I’ll admit that I still don’t really know what night cream is, or how it is different than any other moisturizer or lotion. But it is. It works some sort of magic while you sleep to make your skin healthier and more moisturized.
I use it daily for two reasons. First, it helps counter any of the dryness that is associated with using salicylic acid. But second, it makes a huge difference in the overall health and moisture of my skin.
Healthy skin is easier to shave. When skin is overly dry it can lead to irritation – especially after shaving. And when skin is dry it tends to overproduce oil, which leads to clogged pores and skin problems. See the vicious cycle?
Side note: aren’t these products for women?
Let’s be practical…I could buy a “Men’s” version of these products, but then we would have twice as much stuff sitting on the bathroom sink. It’s not like they are packed with estrogen boosters, so I don’t mind using whatever my wife does.
If you have trouble with pimples on your chin, or you just want cleaner, healthier skin that is easier to shave, consider adding a salicylic acid cleanser and night cream to your shaving regimen. You might be surprised at the impact in can make in your shaving routine.
The purpose of this blog is to share how traditional wet shaving can help men get better shaves and clearer skin. Here are some additional posts you may find interesting:
Intro to Wet Shaving – A primer on how DE shaving helps give better shaves and clearer skin
Shaving Technique – A “how-to” guide for shaving with a safety razor
DE Shaving Cost Comparison – Analysis comparing the cost of DE shaving vs cartridge shaving (spoiler: DE razors are cheaper than dirt!)
Gear for Beginners – The low-cost tools that introduced me to DE shaving
Razor Aggressiveness Basics – An explanation of what makes a razor “mild” with recommendations for beginning DE shavers