Beta-hydroxy acid is better known as salicylic acid, which is known to help reduce pain and fevers. Beta-hydroxy acid is on the list of the most essential medicines, as designated by the World Health Organisation.
Most people will come across beta-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid as an ingredient in modern skincare and beauty products. Salicylic acid is an effective topical treatment for acne, but it is also included in many other skin care products for its purported anti-ageing properties.
Beta-hydroxy acid is an exfoliant and can help in this way to reduce wrinkles and to decrease the signs of sun damage to the skin. It works by causing dead skin cells to slough off more easily, making way faster for healthy new skin growth.
Because beta-hydroxy acid is oil soluble (as opposed to alpha-hydroxy acid, which is only water soluble) it can penetrate the sebum of the skin, helping to clear up skin complaints. Beta-hydroxy acid is chemically related to aspirin, and therefore also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Beta-hydroxy acid can be found in the diet in blackberries, blueberries, grapes and kiwi fruit.