A crucial ingredient in this regime is the salicylic acid toner (and masque, but that's for another post). Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid. It encourages the shedding of dead skin cells within the follicles, keeping them clear of debris that might cause sebum to clog. Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous gland within each hair follicle. It sort of slides out of each pore onto the skin, keeping it moisturized and healthy. It can easily become trapped with the pore, though, if there's some stuff going on (dead skin accumulation, pollutants, etc.), and can become riddled with bacteria, causing breakouts. If it can't find a way out, it will become an enlarged ugly cyst. If it gets big enough, it will rupture and push bacteria ridden yuckiness into the surrounding area underneath the skin. Salicylic acid helps keep the pore free and open, minimizing the clogged sebum horror.


Ain't that nice?


Salicylic acid used to be derived from willow (salix) bark back in the day, which is where it got its name. Aspirin masks have become popular home remedies for acne, as aspirin is also derived from willow. However, it's a different chemical compound and won't work for severely clogged skin. So it's best to just buy the salicylic acid powder, which is VERY reasonably priced.

Different people can tolerate different concentrations of acid on their skin. My skin is pretty sensitive, so my daily toner is about 3-4% salicylic acid. This is slightly more acidic than the natural acid mantle that is always present on your face. Salicylic acid is, obviously, quite acidic on its own. You'll have to add a pH elevator in order to get a safe pH. I use a few drops of a naturally-derived pH balancer called Triethanolamine. It took me awhile to come to peace with the use of something with such a chemically-sounding name, but it's all natural, so I'm dealing with it.


  • hot water (hydrosol or distilled water)
  • rubbing alcohol (to dissolve the salicylic acid)
  • salicylic acid powder
  • Triethanolamine (the pH elevator)

I UNDERSTAND that you might not want to use alcohol on your face. We've been programmed to think it's bad and it can be bad. But in this case, it is necessary to dissolve the salicylic acid, and for me, it has had no adverse affects. I keep my skin moisturized with hemp oil (more about that later) and it's all good so far.

Here's the recipe!

To make 2 ounces of toner:

2 ounces equals 12 teaspoons. I have to figure it out this way to get the percentages right!

In a glass bowl, mix together

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salicylic acid powder (don't use crushed aspirin; it's not the same thing)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of alcohol

Stir until the SA powder dissolves. If the powder doesn't dissolve completely, add another 1/4 teaspoon of alcohol at a time until it does. Make sure you stir it WELL after each addition. Sometimes that's all it takes to make it dissolve.

To raise the temperature of the alcohol/SA mixture, nest the bowl in a bigger bowl with hot tap water in it. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Add about 11 teaspoons of hot water to your blend. Stir until the SA dissolves.

Add two drops of Triethanolamine at a time until the pH is between 3.5 and 4.5. Voila!

That should do it.

How to use: 

Wet a cotton ball with the toner and apply to a clean, slightly damp face. You can put moisturizer on right afterwards (without necessarily waiting for it to dry). I use this in the am and pm every day!

All right?




Hydrosol from Wild Root Botanicals on Etsy!

You can purchase a starter kit with everything you need for your regimen right here at Miri!