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Why 2% Is the Sweet Spot for Salicylic Acid in a Daily Exfoliant

By Elsa de Berker, she/her

When Youth To The People decided to formulate an active exfoliant gentle enough for daily use, the all-star team behind it knew that salicylic acid needed to be a hero ingredient. The fat-soluble beta-hydroxy acid (more commonly referred to as simply BHA), is capable of penetrating deep into pores, relieving buildup and dissolving congestionmaking its inclusion a no-brainer as many of us continue to work against trapped sweat and bacteria from prolonged mask-wearing. 

Sure enough, when the Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant launched, salicylic acid was front and center on its ingredients list. The Unity Exfoliant is a water-light, leave-on solution that’s suitable for all skin-types to use every day, including those who have extra sensitive, blemish-prone, and melanin-rich skin. The magic of the Unity Toner’s formulation lies in YTTP’s proprietary superfood blend and its new triple-acid complex, which provides beautifully smooth and bright skin, without any of the irritation typically associated with more active ingredients.

“The Unity Exfoliant contains 3% mandelic acid, which is an AHA; 2% salicylic acid, a BHA; and 1% gluconolactone, which is a PHA,” explains Jacob Tomás del Rosario, Youth To The People’s Director of Field Sales + Education. He adds that it’s these exact percentages that provide the most desirable results—any more or less could be harmful or counterproductive.

The percentages in this formulation were chosen in this unique combination to give you all of the results you expect and want to see from your exfoliation, without compromising the overall health of the skin,” he says. “Selecting 2% salicylic acid was intentional with the combination of the AHA and PHA, because any higher could potentially strip the skin of its protective barrier over time, and any less would mean it would take far longer to see meaningful results.”

Despite the formula’s ultra-gentle tagline, the Unity Exfoliant still makes quite the skincare statement. “Mandelic acid smoothes the skin from the outside in and protects the integrity of the skin, while salicylic acid delivers deeper exfoliation and relieves congestion, which ultimately aids in minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores, ” says del Rosario. “Gluconolactone boosts the effective reduction of buildup on the skin’s surface, and works alongside mandelic acid to smooth and brighten, without causing irritation.” 

For those eager to incorporate the Unity Exfoliant into their regimen like now, del Rosario suggests starting it out in your AM routine.

“Use the Superfood Cleanser to prep the skin for exfoliation, sweep the Unity Exfoliant over your face, neck and décolleté—allowing a minute or two for it to work its magic—and then apply the 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum right after,” he says. “Together, this trio will beautifully boost immediate and long term radiance.”

Afterwards, you’ll need to slather on some moisturizer which, for del Rosario, means reaching for YTTP’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream. “It’s my favorite daytime moisturizer, because it really locks the hydration in. Layer it on before your sun protectionand then you’re good to go.”

Written for Youth To The People by Elsa de Berker