Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Beauty Q & A: Do Aspirin Masks Work?

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Ivy Asks About Aspirin:
I've been preparing to write about Aspirin Masks. The mask is prepared by crushing four aspirins and mixing it with a bit of water to create a paste. Then it's smeared over one's face.

Do you know anything about this do-it-yourself cosmetic?

The Right Brain Responds: Aspirin Masks seem to be all the rage these days, but we can't find any evidence that they're worth the effort. Here's why:

The active ingredient in aspirin is the drug called Acetylsalicylic Acid. After you swallow an aspirin tablet it travels to your small intestine where this ingredient is broken down to create to Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid, or Sal Acid as it's referred to, is the form of the drug that actually reduces pain, fever, etc.


Now, Sal Acid also belongs to the class of chemicals known as Beta Hydroxy Acids, or BHAs. BHAs are similar to AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids). Both BHAs and AHAs are known for their ability to help slough off dead skin cells when applied topically.


Are you beginning to see the connection between aspirin and facial masks?

In theory, crushing aspirin tablets and rubbing them on your face COULD be beneficial because you're delivering a skin smoothing BHA, right? Well, not exactly.

You're really delivering Acetylsalicylic Acid to the skin - NOT Salicylic Acid, which is the active BHA. And just rubbing the Acetyl verision on your skin won't make it convert to the Sal Acid version. Ok, maybe SOME of the acid is present in the Sal version, but it certainly isn't an optimized dose.


The Beauty Brain's Bottom Line:

Putting crushed aspirin on your face might have SOME benefit, but if you really want a skin smoothing BHA treatment, just buy one of the many Sal Acid products on the market (e.g., Neutrogena's 1% Sal Acid cleansing mask.) In this case the home-made remedy doesn't appear as effective as the chemist-made one.
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