Salicylic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid Together Are the Perfect Combination

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One of the skincare ingredients beauty lovers are on the lookout for in their facial care products is acids. You might think that’s strange. Acid on my face? Absolutely!

Initially, your mind might run to burns and chemicals when you think of the word “acid,” but in the right concentration and product, they can be exceptionally beneficial to the skin.

cropped view of woman applying acid serum on hand near cosmetic glass containers

Salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid are two of the most popular acids used in beauty products. What are these good for? How should you incorporate them into your routine? Can you use salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid together?

Let’s find out!

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is naturally-derived from the bark of willow trees and wintergreen leaves. It is the most popular beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and can be found in several skincare products.

As a BHA, salicylic acid is a natural exfoliant that works by “breaking down” the bond or “glue” that holds dead skin cells together so they can be shed from the surface of the skin.

It’s also oil soluble, making it the perfect product to cleanse oily skin. That’s because salicylic acid can penetrate deeply into the pores and help unclog them.

Salicylic acid is great for battling acne, but that’s not all it’s good for. There are several other benefits to using products with this acid.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Salicylic Acid?

Alongside being able to exfoliate the skin, salicylic acid can also help soothe the skin and address dark spots and wrinkles.

Here are more of the benefits that salicylic acid has to offer:

Natural Exfoliant 

The main benefit of salicylic acid is its ability to remove dead skin cells and help unclog clogged pores.

Excellent Against Acne 

Because it can penetrate deeply into the skin’s protective barrier and remove excess oil, salicylic acid also helps combat and prevent acne caused by clogged pores while helping prevent new breakouts.

Minimizes Pores 

Because salicylic acid helps unclog pores and keeps them cleaner by helping prevent excessive oil production, this ensures the pores are clean and clean pores appear smaller. 


Thanks to its acidic PH, salicylic acid can also help prevent germs and bacteria from growing.

Reduces Inflammation 

Another benefit of BHAs is that they have the same compound found in aspirin, making them anti-inflammatory. This reduces irritation and calms the skin down while cleaning it.

Fights Wrinkles

Salicylic acid helps increase collagen production, helping the skin combat fine lines and wrinkles. 

Lightens Skin 

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic. This means that it helps break down the keratin in your skin, lightening dark and uneven spots.

young woman with bare shoulders holding an acid serum container

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Another popular acid used in beauty ingredients is hyaluronic acid.

Even though it has acid in its name, it’s not actually an acid. It is a sugar molecule or glycosaminoglycan that occurs naturally in the connective tissues in our bodies. This molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water.

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that draws water into the skin and retains it. It’s the perfect product to keep skin hydrated and moisturized.

We all know hydrated skin is healthy skin. But that’s not the only benefit that hyaluronic acids can give you. There are several other essential benefits too.

What Are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid also helps increase the health of your skin barrier by ensuring your skin is deeply hydrated.

Here are some of the primary benefits of hyaluronic acid:

Skin Hydration 

The best thing about hyaluronic acid for your skin is that it keeps the skin nourished and hydrated by ensuring your skin barrier retains water and moisture.

Reduces Wrinkles

Because it helps hold lots of water, hyaluronic acid has anti-wrinkle properties and smoothens fine lines.

Helps Skin Heal and Prevents Scarring

Hyaluronic acid can promote tissue repair and skin healing when applied. It also helps reduce scars.


Alongside wound healing, hyaluronic acid can help reduce bacteria growth.

Increases Skin Elasticity

When applied to the skin, hyaluronic acid helps plump the skin through hydration and promotes collagen production, which can help improve skin texture, boost elasticity, and reduce sagging.

Promotes Skin Health

Hyaluronic acid keeps your skin’s surface smooth, hydrated and protected. It aids the skin in protecting itself against external irritants and bacteria.


Hyaluronic acid is gentle and well tolerated by all skin types.

Salicylic Acid vs Hyaluronic Acid

Because they both have “acid” in their name, many people compare hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid. But the truth is, they do two very different things.

When you break it down, hyaluronic acid hydrates and moisturizes your skin. Salicylic acid, on the other hand, fights acne and helps remove dead skin cells to reveal your smoother, healthier skin underneath.

They serve two distinct purposes and shouldn’t really be compared because they are used for different reasons.

So the question shouldn’t be “Which one should I use?” It should be “Are they better used individually or together?”

The answer is yes, they can be used together!

Can You Combine Salicylic Acid With Hyaluronic Acid?

As salicylic and hyaluronic acids are good for the skin in their unique ways, combining them in your skincare routine is absolutely okay.

In fact, studies have shown that they work even better when used together because they complement each other.

Combining these acids helps you enjoy both benefits and gives you healthier, smoother, and hydrated skin.

Why Should You Use Hyaluronic and Salicylic Acids Together?

Individually, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid do a great job of battling skin issues and promoting healthier, more youthful skin.

Together, they can do even more. Combining them is especially good because salicylic acid tends to dry the skin. Hyaluronic acid can help bring water back into your skin and retain it.

Here are some reasons why combining a BHA and HA is a good idea:

Improved skin penetration

When hydrating skin, it’s always best to ensure your skin is clean of impurities first. If you use salicylic acid first, you can unclog the pores and ensure your skin is ready to fully absorb the benefits of your hyaluronic acid product.

No matter which way you use them (more on that later!), using them together helps ensure the products penetrate your skin in the best possible way.

Stronger benefits for the skin

Because these products complement each other, using them together helps boost each other’s benefits, creating a balanced skincare routine.

Healthier skin

The biggest reason you should consider using these products together is that the result is healthier, cleaner, and more youthful-looking skin. And who doesn’t want that?

smiling young woman with towel on head applying acid

Using Hyaluronic Acid and Salicylic Acid Together

Now that you know that you can (and should!) use hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid together, the next question is how do you do it?

This part can get a little tricky because there are some conditions you must consider when using products with these ingredients.

As with all skincare products, the rule of thumb is thinnest to thickest. You want to make sure to use your thinnest products first to ensure each one does its job properly.

Simultaneously, you must also consider that salicylic acid works best on skin that’s dry, while hyaluronic acid is better on damp skin. This helps maximize product absorption.

Usually, you will find salicylic acids in products like facial washes, serums, and toners.

On the other hand, you often find hyaluronic acid in serums and facial moisturizers. It can also sometimes be in a hydrating toner as well. If it’s in a cleanser, it’s often combined with an exfoliating ingredient.

If you’re using a salicylic acid serum, you can wash your face with your normal face wash as usual. After washing, dry your face completely and apply your salicylic acid serum.

After it’s absorbed, you can use a face mist to dampen your skin a little before you apply the hyaluronic acid serum.

The products you are using may dictate the order in which you apply these acids. Follow the thinnest to thickest rule and the dry and damp skin recommendations for safe and effective product use.

And finally, when using face acids, it’s also important to remember the condition of your skin. Salicylic acid is an exfoliant and can dry the skin. It’s usually best used twice a week only.

Hyaluronic acid, by comparison, is safe to use every day, even twice a day.

three glass bottles with serum on white background

Commonly Asked Questions About Salicylic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid

Do you still have questions about these two acids? Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked queries.

Do I use my hyaluronic acid products before or after the salicylic acid product?

The answer here is… it depends. Usually, it’s recommended that you use hyaluronic acid after salicylic acid to prevent dryness.

However, if your hyaluronic acid is in your cleanser and your salicylic acid is in your serum, then you would apply your hyaluronic acid first. Just be sure to use a moisturizer after your salicylic product.

Hyaluronic acid vs salicylic acid for acne?

Salicylic acid is your bet against acne. While each product can help combat acne, salicylic targets acne more directly by thoroughly cleaning your skin and minimizing oil production.

What should I remember when layering hyaluronic and salicylic acid?

The best thing to remember when you layer them together is to consider the products you are using, your skin type, and your skincare regimen. 

There is no hard-and-fast rule about which goes first. You can adjust depending on your personal needs.

When applying, also remember that each product performs better when applied properly. Remember to apply salicylic acid on skin that’s dry and apply hyaluronic on damp skin.

Can you use salicylic acid if you have sensitive skin or acne-prone skin?

Depending on the product you use, salicylic acid can be safe for sensitive skin. However, don’t use it in high concentrations as salicylic acid may cause dryness and irritation. 

A low-concentration salicylic acid face wash and a good moisturizer will keep your skin from getting too dry.

What should I not mix with salicylic acid?

It’s often recommended not to use retinol with salicylic acid since both are potent acne-fighting agents. This means they could potentially leave your skin very dry and irritated.

However, they should be perfectly safe if you use them correctly and with a good moisturizer containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or niacinamide. If you are unsure, it’s best to consult a dermatologist to be sure.

Bottom Line: You Can and Should Use Salicylic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid Together

In conclusion, salicylic acid combined with hyaluronic acid may be perfect if you are looking for a powerful skincare combination to combat acne and oil while improving elasticity and promoting youthful, glowing skin.

This duo is even better if you have oily skin to help unclog and minimize the pores while making sure it remains smooth and supple.

Just remember our tips when using these products together, so you can layer these products with ease to reveal happy, healthy, glowing skin.

What is your go-to facial care product? Let us know in the comments!

Want to learn more about salicylic and hyaluronic acid? Check out these articles:


  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

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