Salicylic acid, which is derived from plants, is one of the most effective anti-acne chemicals on the market. It works by entering follicles where it encourages the shedding of dead -- and potentially pore-clogging -- skin cells. It also helps shrink blackheads and whiteheads.
Salicylic acid is found in relatively low percentages (.5 to 2 percent) in a variety of drugstore cleansers, such as Neutrogena and Oxy Balance, as well as in higher concentrations in prescription preparations. Your skin may initially become more irritated in the first few days of application, but this should settle down after a few days. It also might take several weeks to see results from the salicylic acid treatment, so be patient.
For more information about acne treatments, read Acne Treatments: Fast Facts.