Best Salicylic Acid Products To Clear Your Skin

Like niacinamide or benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid is a hero ingredient in many anti-acne skincare products. This explains why you’ve been using it for years if you suffer from chronic breakouts. You may not know that it is not exclusive to acne-fighting skincare. It is also present in hair and body care products, so it is not even exclusive to skincare.  

All this stems from its exfoliating properties. Essentially, salicylic acid removes dead skin cells and pore-clogging impurities from the skin’s surface. This means it helps other skincare products penetrate deeper, provides significant anti-inflammatory benefits, and smooths and softens the skin’s texture.The science behind salicylic acid, a compound derived from willow and meadowsweet plants, is quite intriguing. 

If these skincare benefits appeal to you (and why wouldn’t they?), you may want to investigate other products containing salicylic acids, such as those for the scalp, hair, and body. Numerous items on this list combine salicylic acid with other active ingredients for intense exfoliation and additional benefits. 

Examine the most effective salicylic acid products for softer, smoother skin. 

Benefits of Salicylic acid 

Here are a few benefits of using salicylic acid infused products in your day-to-day skincare regimen.  

  1. Salicylic acid controls sebum production.
  2. It keeps a check on the excess oil production of your skin.
  3. It clears pore clogging impurities, dirt, debris, residue and grime dwelling deep into your skin.
  4. It exfoliates the outer layer of the skin and serves you with long lasting and healthy results. 
  5. It makes your skin acne-free with the help of its active ingredients and evens skin tone and bumpy texture. 
  6. It brightens your skin by eliminating acne marks, redness, itchiness, irritation and blemishes. 
  7. It amps up your radiance and restricts recurring acne. 
  8. It keeps your skin healthy and provides you with dewy and hydrated skin. 
  9. It wears out acne related issues without causing dryness or irritation. 
  10. It uplifts the overall health of your skin by sinking into 10 layers of your skin. 

These benefits of salicylic acid will make you irresistible to add one salicylic acid product to your skincare regime. With its power packed abilities to accentuate the natural beauty of your face, it has won the hearts of all the skin obsessed female audiences. 

What to Look for in a Salicylic Acid Product 

Moisturizing ingredients 

Salicylic, like other acids found in skincare (glycolic, lactic), is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that can cause sensitivity2. If you’ve never used products containing the ingredient or your skin tends to react negatively to new products, it’s always a good idea to start slowly; many of the products on this list are intended to be used once or twice weekly. Additionally, you can search for moisturizing ingredients combined with salicylic acid to prevent irritation and dryness. 

Product Type 

Consider your beauty routine when adding a step, regardless of whether you prefer an intensive peel for an occasional or weekly treatment or a light treatment for daily use. Pads containing salicylic acid can be used on the go, while a toner can be incorporated into your evening skincare routine. Various products contain salicylic acid, including body wash, shampoo, lotion, and peels. 

Fragrance-free formulas 

Again, salicylic acid is one of those substances that can cause sensitivity in some individuals, especially after the initial application. If you have sensitive skin, search for the purest formulas possible to avoid potential irritants. Individuals with sensitive or reactive skin prefer fragrance-free products. 

How We Test and evaluate 

To compile this list, our editors and contributors spent countless hours researching the best products in this category, evaluating their key characteristics, such as ingredients, shade range, design, customer feedback, and other reliable sources.  

Our team also incorporated their own testing experiences with products. Using these findings from our research and testing, we assigned a one-to-five-star rating (with five being the best and one being the worst) to the products on the list. 

1. Best Overall: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Face Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Face Wash, Daily Cleanser with Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment, 9.1 Fl Oz (Pack of 3)

The product is packaged in a transparent pump bottle. I always favor pump dispensers in the bathroom over flip-top bottles due to their convenience. Additionally, it dispenses just enough product for single use with each push. Therefore, I enjoy it. On the back, they list all product information, including an exhaustive list of ingredients. 

It is a product of an amber hue—medium consistency, neither too thin nor too thick. The texture is comparable to that of a creamy gel. It smells spotless. The face wash produces a dense foam when combined with water. Most products on the market contain minimal salicylic acid. However, this one has 2% salicylic acid, which is fantastic for acne-prone skin. However, it implies that it will be drying to the skin. After cleansing my face with this, I always apply a high-quality, non-comedogenic moisturizer. 

About this item
  • Item Form: Oil 
  • Use for: Face 
  • Brand: Neutrogena 
  • Recommended Uses for Product : Acne 
  • Scent: Unscented 
 What We Like 
  • Reduces excess oil 
  • Lathers well 
  • Maximum-strength formula 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Can be a tad drying 

2. Best Cleanser: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, Daily Exfoliating Treatment, 100% Natural, Made Fresh in Vermont, 125 ml

Tata Harper is one of our favorite natural skincare brands (the Tata Harper Purifying Mask, which retails for $72, is exceptional). The exfoliants in this cleanser are both physical and chemical. First, there is apricot seed powder, which is intended to be massaged into the skin to remove pore-clogging impurities, followed by white willow bark. This natural salicylic acid exfoliates, smoothest, and brightens the complexion. Even pink clay and pomegranate enzymes are designed to exfoliate further. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the hero ingredient, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel recommends starting with a small amount. “Usage will vary from product to product, but it is essential to begin using salicylic acid once every few days to ensure there is no allergic reaction,” he explains. “The product can be used up to twice daily, depending on your skin’s tolerance.” 

About this item
  • Item Form: Liquid 
  • Use for: Face 
  • Brand: Tata Harper 
  • Recommended Uses for Product: Face 
  • Special Ingredients: 100% Natural
 What We Like 
  • A little goes a long way 
  • Makes skin glow 
  • Helps serums soak in 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Could irritate some skin types 

3. Best Toner: Glossier Solution exfoliating skin perfector

Glossier Solution exfoliating skin perfector 4.4 fl oz / 130 ml

The solution, an exfoliating treatment from Glossier, can be used as a toner after cleansing. Press a cotton pad onto the dispenser and apply it to the skin. According to the manufacturer, combining three distinct acid groups will result in softer and clearer skin (which includes 0.5 percent salicylic acid). We believe it is based on before-and-after images and positive customer reviews. 

About this item 
  • Product Benefits: Exfoliating 
  • Item Weight: 0.49 Pounds 
  • Skin Type: Acne-prone 
  • Use for : Whole Body 
What We Like 
  • Improves skin texture 
  • Boosts radiance and glow 
  • Reduces appearance of blemishes 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Increases sun sensitivity 

4. Best Seller: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Face Toner

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Face Toner for Oily Skin, with Exfoliating LHAs to Minimize Appearance of Pores and Smooth Skin Texture

La Roche-Posay is a famous French pharmacy brand widely available at places like Walgreens. This brand’s toner contains glycolic and salicylic acid to clear and smooth problematic skin. 

Effaclar Astringent Toner for acne prone & oily skin acts like a pore minimizer and helps visibly reduce the look of pores. This clear, refreshing micro-exfolianttoner refines skin texture, and unblocks and tightens pores. Tested on acne-prone skin (non-comedogenicity test). 

About this item 
  • Brand: La Roche-Posay 
  • Scent: Fragrance Free 
  • Skin Type: Oily 
  • Item Weight: 0.5 Pounds 
  • Product Benefits: Toner visibly reduces the look of pores and smooths skin texture. Clear and refreshing no-rinse formula. Toner visibly reduces the look of pores and smooths skin texture. Clear and refreshing no-rinse formula. 
What We Like 
  • Helps clear pores 
  • Won’t irritate sensitive skin 
  • Reduces excess oil 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Contains fragrance 

5. Best Exfoliating Mask: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. AHA/BHA Face Mask for Great Skin Clarity, Texture and Tone for a Youthful Radiance. (1.69 Fl Oz).

Babyfacial by Drunk Elephant is a cult-favorite product. It contains glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids for a powerful exfoliating effect. Because of this, it is intended for occasional use, not daily use. The manufacturer suggests applying it once per week as a face mask. After a few minutes, it helps to reveal smoother, brighter skin. We, along with the other 120,000 people who gave it a “love” rating on Sephora’s website, can attest to its skin-transforming capabilities. 

About this item 
  • Brand: Drunk Elephant 
  • Item Weight: 102 Grams 
  • Skin Tone: All 
  • Product Benefits: “Resurfaces skin to improve skin’s clarity, texture and tone” 
  • Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Dry, Normal 
 What We Like 
  • Helps reduce whiteheads 
  • Creamy texture 
  • Leaves skin feeling soft 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Expensive 

6. Best Body Wash: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash for Clean, Clear Skin, 8.5 Ounce

This Neutrogena body wash contains a high concentration of salicylic acid to prevent blemishes. Another body wash that made the list of the best anti-acne products. After rinsing, it leaves no oily residues, is inexpensive, and is simple to use. You cannot go wrong with this drugstore staple if you suffer from body acne. 

About this item 
  • Item Form: Gel 
  • Use for: Whole Body 
  • Brand: Neutrogena 
  • Recommended Uses for Product: Body 
What We Like 
  • Helps clear blemishes 
  • Calms redness 
  • Inexpensive 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Contains triclosan 

7. Best Lotion: CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin | Vitamin D, Hyaluronic Acid, Lactic Acid & Salicylic Acid Lotion | Fragrance Free & Allergy Tested | 19 Ounce

Salicylic acid is even present in body lotion. “Salicylic acid lotion is useful for removing dead skin or bumpy skin (keratosis pilaris) from the body and softening elbows and knees,” says Dr. Rabach. 

This product is designed to soften and smooth rough and bumpy skin on the legs, arms, and elbows. The daily application allows salicylic acid, lactic acid, and ceramides to begin smoothing, exfoliating, and moisturizing the skin. For those with sensitive skin, it is even fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. 

Salicylic acid in high concentrations may irritate the skin, so it is always best to perform a patch test before committing to a new skincare product. In addition, because salicylic acid is so effective at exfoliating, using multiple salicylic acid products concurrently will be too harsh for your skin. Therefore, we do not recommend incorporating all of these into your beauty regimen simultaneously. Always keep your skin’s health in mind when deciding which products to use and choose accordingly. 

About this item 
  • Item Form: Lotion 
  • Brand: CeraVe 
  • Use for: Legs 
  • Product Benefits: Hydrating 
  • Specific Uses for Product: Dry, Rough and Bumpy Skin 
What We Like 
  • Gently exfoliates 
  • Hydrates 
  • Restores and protects the skin barrier 
  • Fragrance-free 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Contains mineral oil 

8. Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner

Benton Benton aloe bha skin toner facial moisturizer, 200 gr, 200 Gram

We used Benton’s Aloe BHA Skin Toner to achieve less congested and more evenly toned skin. The nourishing treatment combines salicylic acid, aloe, snail mucin, hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, and beta-glucans to hydrate and exfoliates your complexion simultaneously. Consequently, there should be fewer opportunities for irritation. No wonder it received the 2019 Soko Glam Best of K-Beauty Award. 

About this item 
  • Brand: BENTON 
  • Scent: Unscented 
  • Skin Type: Sensitive, All Skin Types 
  • Item Weight: 200 Grams 
  • Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 
What We Like 
  • Incredibly hydrating, plumping, repairs moisture barrier over time 
  • Reduces redness, sensitivity, irritations-helps pimples to heal faster 
  • Improves rosacea 
  • Affordable 
  • Alcohol, fragrance, & paraben free 
What We Don’t Like 
  • No cons, besides that the name is misleading as it’s not really a BHA product 

9. Best Pleasant Fragrance: Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads

Peter Thomas Roth | Max Complexion Correction Pads

We recommend Peter Thomas Roth’s Max Complexion Correction Pads, which she says contain 2 percent salicylic acid (the maximum concentration for over-the-counter products). And 10 percent glycolic acid for “a strong boost in exfoliation” and a reduction in comedones (aka, the scientific term for an acne lesion). 

These dual-sided pads are designed with a softer side for gentle cleansing (such as removing makeup and dirt) and a textured side for additional exfoliation. In addition, they contain allantoin, aloe, and green tea leaf extract to soothe skin. While these ingredients are ideal for hydrating the skin and reducing irritation, Chang advises “those with sensitive skin to test a small area before applying to the entire face.” 

About this item 
  • Brand: Peter Thomas Roth 
  • Scent: Peach Bellini 
  • Product Benefits: Double-sided pads gently cleanse and exfoliate, helping to clear up acne and prevent future breakouts. Double-sided pads gently cleanse and exfoliate, helping to clear up acne and prevent future breakouts. See more 
  • Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid 
  • Item Weight: 181.4 Grams 
What We Like 
  • Pleasant fragrance 
  • Travel-friendly container 
  • Easy to use 
  • Hydrates the skin 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Sensitive skin may experience dryness and irritation 

10. The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

The INKEY List 2% Salicylic Acid Cleanser to Reduce Blackheads and Breakouts for Oily Blemish Prone Skin 150ml

The Inkey List’s Salicylic Acid Cleanser is a no-frills, lightly foaming cleanser that will leave your complexion feeling refreshed but not stripped. Two percent salicylic acid is combined with anti-inflammatory zinc, irritation-soothing allantoin, and conditioning vitamin E to keep your pores happy, healthy, and — most importantly — unclogged and clear. 

About this item 
  • Item Form: Liquid 
  • Use for: Face 
  • Brand: The INKEY List 
  • Recommended Uses for Product : Face, Oily, Oily Skin, Neck 
  • Scent: Unscented 
What We Like 
  • Improves skin tone and texture 
  • Prevents acne caused by bacteria and clogged pores 
  • Cleanses thoroughly without drying the skin 
What We Don’t Like 
  • It sold out fast and restocks takes too long especially from Asian retailers. 

Best Salicylic Acid Products To Clear Your Skin - FAQ

Yes. Numerous products on this list combine salicylic acid with glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids. Salicylic acid is frequently combined with other exfoliating acids for a peeling effect. The combination of acids may be an effective hyperpigmentation treatment. 

According to Rabach, salicylic acid is keratolytic, which means it dissolves the outermost layer of skin. This acne treatment is renowned for dissolving dead skin cells deep within pores. Typically, flaking results from the exfoliation of dead skin cells. 

Yes. After using a salicylic acid exfoliating treatment, it is beneficial to apply a moisturizer to help hydrate and repair the skin. A moisturizer can follow numerous salicylic acid-containing cleansers, toners, spot treatments, and serums. Please wait a few minutes after applying a salicylic acid treatment to allow it to absorb before applying your daytime or evening moisturizer. 

What’s the difference between AHAs and BHAs?

Both BHAs (salicylic acid) and AHAs (such as glycolic and lactic acid) are chemical exfoliants that promote cell turnover and regeneration, but the way in which they exfoliate the skin differs. 

“BHAs are oil-soluble and comedolytic (it can get underneath and around the oil that sits in your pores). Since it works on both the surface and deep inside the pore, dissolving trapped debris and excess sebum, it’s a great ingredient to treat acne as both a prevention and a cure,” says Dr Sonia. BHAs can also help manage other conditions that involve blocked pores, such as keratosis pilaris, often found on the upper arms. 

“AHAs, on the other hand, are water-soluble, and since oil and water don’t mix, AHAs cannot get under the oil in your pores and will only exfoliate the surface of your skin. They’re widely celebrated for their anti-ageing properties – for example, treating fine lines and wrinkles as well as hyperpigmentation – and every skin type can benefit from AHAs.” 

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