Aspirin for Acne: Does it Really Work?
It seems like a new skincare hack appears every day on TikTok. The latest to emerge: using aspirin for acne.
Dermatologists regularly warn people to be wary of social media-derived skincare hacks, and ensure you carry out plenty of research before trying them at home. But what about using aspiring as an acne treatment — just how safe is it, and is it effective for clearing away breakouts?
Ahead, all the deets on the aspirin acne treatment and whether it’s worth the hype.
Can Aspirin Treat Acne?
One of the reasons people have begun using aspirin to treat pimples is because the primary active ingredient in the pain reliever is acetylsalicylic acid, an acid with some similar qualities to salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), or chemical exfoliant, that’s commonly found in a range of over the counter acne treatments. It works to break down sebum, remove dead skin cells, and unclog pores — helping to clear and prevent blackheads and whiteheads.
Aspirin (or acetylsalicylic acid) works a little differently, however. It is an NSAID (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), which means it may provide some relief from inflammation when applied topically. According to board certified dermatologists, there’s little chance topical aspirin will work for blackheads or whiteheads.
That said, the derms do point out that some people may find aspirin helpful in reducing inflammation associated with cysts or nodules. There are also remains to be no concrete evidence on whether aspirin works on acne scars, either.
How to Use Aspirin for Acne
When using aspirin as a home remedy acne spot treatment, start by crushing a few aspirin tablets until you get a powder, then mix it with a few drops of water to create a paste. You can then apply this paste as an aspirin mask to soothe the redness in blemishes, and rinse off with warm water after several minutes.
If you try this DIY acne treatment at home, especially if you have sensitive skin, do a patch test first to ensure you don’t end up with skin inflammation.
Please note, this aspirin acne treatment can be rather drying. If you have dry skin, considering combining the crushed aspirin with hydrating, soothing ingredients like aloe, jojoba oil, or coconut oil to prevent dryness and keep your moisture barrier intact.
Before applying, make sure you wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and impurities. To avoid irritating your skin, do not combine the aspirin formula with any other spot treatments. Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids are a no-no. Remember to apply plenty of sunscreen afterwards!
What Types of Acne Can Aspirin Treat?
Although aspirin is not scientifically validated to treat any specific type of acne, it may have the potential to alleviate cystic or hormonal acne due to the anti-inflammatory properties of acetylsalicylic acid. According to Dr. Herrmann, aspirin could potentially reduce skin inflammation associated with acne. However, there are more effective treatment options available that can target the underlying causes of acne, such as clogging and hormonal imbalances.
Side Effects of Using Aspirin for Acne
Like the majority of home remedies and TikTok skincare trends, skin irritation is always a worry. If you have sensitive skin, you may develop irritation when applying aspirin topically. Before using aspirin, be sure to carry out a patch test by applying a very small amount of the paste to a small area of your face like your jawline. Wait 24 hours to see if you experience any kind of irritation. If you don’t, then you’re good to go. If you do, steer clear!
The dermatologists also advise against using aspirin for acne if you’re pregnant or have a skin condition such as eczema, as it may worsen symptoms.
Better Alternative Treatments
If you’re looking to get rid of acne, aspirin probably isn’t the most effective way — despite its social popularity. Here are some of the best alternatives for the treatment of acne.
Benzoyl peroxide is a potent antibacterial agent that can effectively combat acne, especially inflamed breakouts. It works by penetrating the skin and releasing oxygen, which kills the bacteria that causes acne. It also helps to unclog pores and reduce inflammation, making it an effective treatment for moderate to severe acne.
When using benzoyl peroxide, it is important to start with a low concentration and gradually increase the strength to avoid skin irritation.
You’ll find benzoyl peroxide in Rainbow’s Clear Acne Patches
Salicylic acid is a highly effective ingredient for treating acne at home, often considered a gold standard in the world of skincare. As Dr. This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) has the ability to exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells and penetrate deep into pores to clear out impurities and congestion.
Salicylic acid works by breaking down the bonds between skin cells, allowing it to penetrate the pores and unclog them, which in turn helps to reduce the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads.
For those seeking a potent acne treatment that also provides additional benefits, incorporating a retinoid cream or serum into their skincare routine may be the answer. Retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives, have been clinically proven to effectively treat acne while also addressing signs of aging by promoting collagen growth, accelerating cell turnover, and reducing inflammation.
Retinoids work by speeding up the skin's natural exfoliation process, which helps to unclog pores and prevent new breakouts from forming. In addition to their acne-fighting abilities, retinoids also stimulate collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can improve the overall texture and tone of the skin.
You’ll find retinol in Rainbow’s Illuminate Body Polish
Over the past few years, there have been a slew of acne hacks ranging from toothpaste to tea tree oil and now aspirin. As much as aspirin might be effective for reducing redness and inflammation related to acne, as far as the derms are concerned, it isn’t going to treat breakouts like the conventional treatments (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, etc.). If you’re looking for the most effective to treat acne, use these formulas instead of aspirin for acne.