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Breaking Down Beauty: The Aspirin Mask

By Sheila Arkee

There are so many affordable at-home tricks to acheiving beautiful skin. One of my all-time favorite is what’s commonly referred to as the “Aspirin Mask”. Costing mere pennies per application, it is a quick, easy, and effective way to keep your skin smooth and acne free.

aspirin mask

The ingredient that makes the magic happen is salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps clean out pores and battle acne-causing bacteria.

Step One: There are two main ingredients in the aspirin mask: water, and uncoated or lightly-coated aspirin. I rarely come across uncoated aspirin, so I use a lightly-coated generic brand, and it works great. For your face, all you need are 2-3 tablets.

Step Two: The aspirin tablets will dissolve in water, so you don’t really to put a lot of work into preparation. It’s best to use a small bowl, I happen to do all the mixing in my hand. Just a few drops of water will do.

Step Three: Massage the tablets in your hand until they’re dissolved and form a mushy paste. There isn’t a binding agent, so the paste will be fairly loose and flaky.

Step Four: Apply! Let rest for about five minutes, and then rinse away. The dried mask will be powdery, so be careful! Alternately, you can incorporate aloe vera or honey with the mushed up aspirin to act as healing binding agents.

As you’re rinsing,  use the mask as a scrub. You’ll need to use a washcloth to follow up and make sure you’ve removed the mask entirely.

Step Five: Moisturize and you’re set!

The Aspirin Mask is quick and works – I’ll do the mask a night or two before an big event- its like an at-home mini-peel that makes your skin so smooth and let your foundation glide on. You can do the mask as often as you’d like, as long as it doesn’t overly irritate your skin. Of course, if you’ve never done the mask before it’s best to do a patch test for allergies first on your neck.

Precaution: Do not use this if you are pregnant, nursing, have issues with blood thinning, or have Reye’s disease. Discontinue use if you experience irritation. Although the rate of absorption is slower through the skin, aspirin WILL absorp into your so keep advised dosage amounts in mind. I am a peer and not a medical professional, and my advice should not be taken as medical advice.

Medical disclaimer: The information on the Painted Ladies site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please refer to our complete medical disclaimer for further information.

  • Bezzy

    Just tryed it today[: hope it works! cuz i just got like an acne flair…blahh!

  • Ashlea

    I just used this, and it has helped my skin feel softer. I have super oily skin and for some reason about 3 years ago, my skin started getting this way and it breaks out all the time. I hope this works because it is a really cheap and easy fix, plus it’s fast!

    I’ve used Proactiv, Oxy and everything I could think of. I sure hope this of all things works.

  • Tawnya

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing.
    I do a similar thing but use baking soda in my hand and add a few drops of water. I don’t usually leave it on like a mask, I just use it as a wash and it works really well at leaving your skin really soft, However, I really like your idea because of the salicylic acid. I know it definitely is what works on acne, I just wasn’t aware that it was in something so simple as aspirin. I am excited to try this and save some money!

  • DianaC

    Thank you for this wonderful tip! Can’t wait to give it a try. I have been using baking soda as a home microdermabrasion since 1980 and it works great and does not dry my skin. I would do it a day or two before a special event followed by a good moisturizer. Make-up would glide on beautifully. All dead skin was gone and my face just glowed. Didn’t know about the salicylic acid until now but never had a big acne problem and have great, hearty skin.

    As a tightening mask to pull out toxins or dirt and reduce the size of pore, I use an egg white (very little goes a long way). It feels strange as it dries and you literally can’t speak or smile without feeling like your face is cracking because it gets that tight. Once completely dry, I wait a few more minutes and rinse. Do this a week or more before an event in case the drawing produces a blemish but goodbye blackheads and large pores. This is the cheapest and most effective and organic mask I have ever found. Love it.

    Thank you again for the aspirin mask, will try this today! Btw…love Monoi Body Balm from The Body Shop but buy mine on-line. Blessings that all of these tips help those with sensitive or acne prone skin! Diana

  • http://www.beautyinfozone.com MarciaF (beauty info zone)

    This is such an interesting post and one that is valuable to so many. I’ve known about this for at least a dozen years. Many people swear by it. I understand that if you use AHA you shouldn’t use this mask.

  • Sarah

    Hi, thank you for sharing this tip, but I have to say I’m a bit hesitant, because last week I tried a DIY mask with lemon juice and honey, that was supposed to make my skin softer and make blackheads disappear, but it didn’t work. Instead I got bumps all over my face and redness on my forehead.. Sooo I’m not sure I’ll try it..
    Besides, I live in France, and I don’t know where to find those uncoated pills you’re using.
    Anyway, thanks :)

  • tino

    I just tried this and it works good I got rid of a new pimple just by putting it on a zit :D

  • http://pintrest lanye

    my skin use to be clear and soft but i just stared breaking out of no where and i tried Every Thing nothing worked but now im using some mask and i hardly have any pimples and i want to try this cause its a at home and cheap thing but my question is will this help me with my scares cause all i have now is scares from the acne.. im guessing it wont hurt to try it soo im going to give it a try and hopefully it does work.. :)

  • Leah

    You can also use aspirin to make your own anti-dandruff shampoo – just dissolve and aspirin tablet (or 2 or 3, depending on how strong you want your shampoo) in your favorite shampoo. If you check your manufactured dandruff shampoos, you will see that the active ingredient is often salicylic acid (aka aspirin!)

  • http://www.picassohairfeathers.com Kate

    Awesome! I got to try this – seems so easy! :)

  • allison

    Is there an alternative for aspirin because all i can find i Neproxim sodium.

  • Aimee

    @ Allison, you can probably order mass quantities from Perrigo Co (based out of Allegan, Michigan), if you look them up online. They are the main manufacturer of the Equate brand pharmaceuticals you see in WalMart, etc. You may even be able to get a big discount ordering direct, and ordering multiple bottles. Just ask.

  • Liz

    I found uncoated aspirin (a bottle of 175) at walmart in the $0.88 section by the pharmacy. This is definitely worth a try for under $1!

  • Summer

    I am a bit skeptical using this only because I have not found a cure to my acne… If anyone has had mild acne, does this work? I am in the process of doing chemical peels but they don’t seem like they’re working either.. So if anyone has some advice, that would be lovely.


  • avril35

    can i use advil or ibprofin i don’t have any asprin on hand

  • Laura

    Can you use coated aspirin thats all I could find

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies


  • Laura

    Ok thank you!!! Trying it right now

  • Linda

    This was on the Dr Oz show over a year ago. They suggested taking a handful of baking soda moistened to scrub off aspirin mask. It becomes carbonated and fizzy and exfoliates even more. I do this while bathing leave aspirin on while I wash up and scrub off at the end. Both are very messy otherwise.

  • Linda

    Just try one aspirin to see if coating will dissolve in water.

  • http://Pinterest.com Annie Dougherty

    I wish I had known this about 45 years ago. Of course, the simplest solutions are never discovered until years after. Aspirin has been around how long….and who would know it could solve the biggest problems a teenager has encountered since forever. I’ll pass this one along to my grandchildren for sure! Thank you!!

  • Jennifer

    Avril35- I asked my pharmacist about that because they are all NSAIDs but they are completely different in chemistry. Use the Aspirin.

  • Ellen

    I just tried this on a problem spot that popped up this morning. The swelling and redness have gone down a lot! I am hoping that if I coat this spot once a day for the next few days it will go away before I leave for my cruise!!

  • Nadia

    Wow! I was soooo happy with the results of this! I tried it last night and my face looks SO much better! My little sister even said my face looked better. The less serious acne is now gone and the more serious acne has reduced in size and redness! Now I can start my senior year with more confidence and I can go to job interviews without feeling like all they are staring at us my acne! I’m sure happy it worked because I was THIS close to going to see a dermatologist.

  • Emily

    I used the same brand but ibuprofen instead. They were coated but I washed the coating off. Immediately when I put it on my skin it had like a burning sensation so I knew it was working and killing germs from the start. I have had acne all through my teenage years and I have used proactiv, neutrogena, clearskin products out there. I just hope it works!! Thanks for the tip!!:)

  • Clare

    I will try this with my daughter but will be careful after clicking on salicylic acid in the above article and reading about it.

  • Rose

    CLINDAMYCIN based cream – my two teenagers were acne free in less than 2 months. Need Dr prescription…

  • Yama

    I’ve been using this mask for years. My acne is mild and this works beautifully. I would NOT use Ibuprofen or Advil, or Tylenol or anything else but plain aspirin. It’s the salicylic acid in aspirin that makes this so effective.

  • Krystal

    So I read in the fine print that it’s not recommended to do this while nursing… That’s sucks, I am still nursing but am having some really bad issues with acne. Has anyone tried it while nursing and do you really think it is tht bad to do? I am just nervous but really want to try this. Advice?! Lol

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Krystal – I would avoid it. Better safe than sorry!

  • Jordan A.

    I am dying to try this! But would i be a ble to use a BC POWDER?

  • Brandah

    Yes you can use BC powder. That is what I used and worked amazing!

  • Brianna

    Could this work with something like Advil (ibuprofen)?

  • Nellie

    Where do you buy Coconut oil at? I’ve heard about all the home remedies it’s great for but I have no idea where to purchase it. Anyone know where to buy?

  • Lauren

    This is absolutely correct that aspirin is a derivative of salicylic acid. If you have surface acne (black heads, white heads, little red bumps…) this should work because this chemical is the basis for topical acne meds. The maximum amount of aspirin you can take in a day is 3,000 mgs, so keep that in mind.

    If you have nodular or cystic acne, this will not work for it because it is down deeper and those are produced by hormones. You would need to either be on birth control or a blood pressure medication called Spironolactone (brand name: Aldactone). They found that this blood pressure med actually causes a decrease in hormone released by your facial pores along with has your pores excreting less grease. I believe you need to be on 100mg to make it effective towards acne.

    I’m in medical school and this is what we have been taught in class. Thanks!

  • musli

    It really works.I have tried and when started cleaning it off with baking soda my skin felt like it was burning. I got panicked, but when I washed it all off and looked at mirror the result shocked me. My skin looked amazing, so so so clean even breakouts were gone. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hillary

    Dollar tree sells uncoated aspirin!

  • ang nee

    where can i buy it?
    is better for dry ppl.

  • Yami

    Nellie: cheapest place to get cocoanut oil (or butter as it is sometimes called) is at ethnic food stores that specialize in West Indies, Caribbean or such cuisine. Health food stores also carry it. If you are in the USA Trader Joe’s will have it. It’s awesome for a jillion uses.

  • Areesha

    Hello! It’s night time here and I just tried this mask after much ado. The most immediate effect is that my moisturizer glided on soo smoothly, its unbelievable! I hope I see some more amazing results by morning ^_^

  • Marina

    I am soo glad that I found this! I have been breaking out really bad the past two weeks with little pimples around my nose and chin. I’ve tried a lot of face washes, but nothing helped- it just got worse! I tried this last night, and I am soo happy with the results! My skin felt 10x softer s ion as I washed the asperin off. I also used a new moiturizer (Okay) Woke up to a soft smooth face! I love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com m

    I think you can get coconut oil at Amazon, also.

  • F P

    please look for an Indian grocery store for coconut oil. its really good quality and cheap.

  • monica

    @Summer…I have been troubled with mild to severe acne for years. I went to a dermatologist and he gave me a sulfur based wash for my face. It worked so well and my skin is now clear. I get tons of compliments on my skin now!

  • chippy

    yes,i also tried aspirin and its really workout,thankyou so much for sharing.

  • Desiree Gonzales

    Will this work for ance scars ? Curious to give this a go .

  • http://www.painted-ladies.com Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Desiree – no, it most likely will not. For acne scars, you need a professional strength peel.

  • Sherry

    I don’t see why this wouldn’t work. I have a gel now that I use with the same ingredient as the main one. For those who wonder if aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc. are all equal to one another — only if you have a headache. Otherwise, not the same whatsoever, ingredient-wise.

  • Brittany

    If you cannot withstand the aspirin (I’m nursing) you can use a paste of baking soda and dandruff shampoo. It works wonderfully! The baking soda help to exfoliate while the active ingredient in the dandruff shampoo fights acne.

    Check your active ingredients and make sure salicylic acid is listed. There are a couple different kinds. I know the Wal-Mart generic of head and shoulders does have salicylic acid as an active ingredient.

  • Beth

    I have moderate psoriasis on my face and it can become embarrassing when my skin gets to the red and itchy stage. I’ve tried so many lotions and creams (and shampoos) from the tar-based to the salicylic acid kinds and I’ve experienced the best relief from the salicylic acid ones. I cannot see why this wouldn’t work as well, and since I always have it on hand I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting my lotions on a trip! :) Thanks so much for this “beauty tip!”