Best Salicylic Acid Products

If you’ve got oily or acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is your best friend.

The anti-inflammatory found in aspirin, salicylic acid in liquid form breaks up dead skin cells to unclog blackheads and whiteheads. It also reduces oil production and fades discoloration and redness.

How much salicylic acid should you use?

When you first begin using salicylic acid, limit yourself to every other day or night. This will let you see how your skin reacts.

Most over-the-counter treatments are between 0.5% and 2% salicylic acid, so they’re generally safe to use on a regular basis. If you haven’t experienced any irritation after two weeks of using a salicylic acid product every other day, you can assume that it’s safe for your skin.

If you’re allergic to aspirin or have rosacea, you should steer clear of products contain salicylic acid.

The right salicylic acid care combo for acne-prone skin

You just can’t use any old cleanser and moisturizer; acne-prone skin can be tricky to care for, so you need to find the right combination. Not everyone who has acne has oily skin. Your skin can be dry or sensitive and yet still experience breakouts.

Pro care tips for acne prone skin

• Wash your face with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide

This will help to dry up pimples.

• Don’t scrub or rub your skin while washing your face

This will irritate your skin and increase oil production.

• Use an oil-free moisturizer

Oil-free moisturizers won’t clog pores.

• Choose cosmetics that are oil-free

Matte finishes in the foundation, blush, and eye shadow is best for oily skin.

• Avoid touching your skin throughout the day

Bacteria can easily go from your fingers to your face.

• Avoid tanning and tanning beds

Acne treatments cause your skin to become extra sensitive to ultraviolet rays.

• Stay away from refined grains, sugars, and processed foods

They send your blood sugar skyrocketing, which can cause pimples to form

Banish breakouts

Over-the-counter acne treatments work for the occasional pimple. But if you have more severe acne, finding the right treatment can be tricky. The best treatments slow skin oil production, limit bacterial growth and encourage skin cell renewal to unclog pores.

Nonprescription acne treatments

Certain cleaners are specifically designed for acne. They usually contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.

Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide creams help to treat acne by destroying the bacteria in pores. Give it three or four weeks for it to work, and use it consistently.

Salicylic acid helps to correct the abnormal shedding of cells and helps to unclog pores. Available in different forms — lotions, creams, pads — it requires regular use for it to work.

Prescription acne treatments

Antibiotics are effective acne treatment. They work by clearing the skin of bacteria and reducing inflammation. Antibiotics are available in oral and topical forms.

Derived from vitamin A, retinoids clear up moderate to severe acne. They normalize the way your skin grows and sheds. And they’re often used in conjunction with oral antibiotics.

Oral contraceptives can be highly effective in treating acne if it’s caused by a hormonal imbalance. The maximum benefit of oral contraceptives on acne occurs in three to four months.


The best products containing salicylic acid

A lot of dermatologists prefer products containing salicylic acid over those containing benzoyl peroxide because they’re less harsh and irritating. A wide range of skincare products exists that have added salicylic acid, such as cleansers, moisturizers, facial scrubs, and topical creams.

Here’s our list of some of the best products to look out for:

Salicylic Acid Cleansers

• Ambi Even & Clear Foaming Cleanser

This cleanser helps to keep skin even in tone and it even fades dark spots left from pimples.

• Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser

This cleanser, which contains 2% salicylic acid, also has very small scrubbing beads that help to exfoliate skin, leaving your skin nice and smooth.

• LaserAway Green Tea Cleanser

Formulated for sensitive and normal skin types, LaserAway Green Tea Cleanser gently and effectively removes dirt, makeup, and pollutants. It also reduces inflammation, improves skin texture, and tones your skin.

• Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

This affordable cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid. It foams nicely and rinses away clean.

• Olay Total Effects Daily Cleanser Plus Blemish Control

This cleanser is both anti-aging and anti-blemish. It’s formulated for women with adult acne.

• Bioré Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser

Great if you have super oily skin, this cleanser leaves your skin feeling deeply cleansed but not too dry.

Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

• Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

Formulated for acne-prone skin, this moisturizer balances and evens your tone, and it treats blemishes.

• Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Moisturizing Lotion

This lightweight lotion helps control oil and protects against blemishes without irritating your skin.

• Clean and Clear Dual Action Moisturizer

This moisturizer delivers the goodness of a moisturizer and a medicated acne control agent, providing optimum hydration to dry skin.

• LaserAway Restorative Moisturizer

Formulated for mature skin, LaserAway Restorative Moisturizer restores moisture as it nourishes and softens.

• LaserAway Ultra Moisturizer

Formulated for all skin types, LaserAway Ultra Moisturizer contains a unique, potent combination of antioxidants, moisture-rich lipids, and skin conditioners to help replenish dry, dehydrated skin, significantly improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

• Yes to Tomatoes Repairing Acne Lotion

This moisturizing lotion contains all-natural salicylic acid that penetrates pores to clear up blemishes and urge your skin to heal.

Salicylic Acid Facial Scrubs

• Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub

This oil-free scrub fights dirt, oil residue, and blackheads, leaving your skin clear and supple.

• Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub

This vitamin-enriched scrub makes your skin feel refreshed, energized, and clean.

• Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub

This gentle scrub helps to prevent blemishes, cure redness, and eliminate blackheads.

• Yes to Tomatoes Acne Daily Pore Scrub

This acne-fighting scrub is powerful enough to combat blackheads and breakouts but is gentle enough for daily use.

• Zum Face Sugar Facial Scrub

Enriched with the natural exfoliants lemongrass and natural cane sugar, this scrub helps to improve skin texture and clarity.

Salicylic Acid Topical Creams

• Alba Bontanica Acnedote Invisible Treatment Gel

This all-natural gel treats and helps to prevent breakouts.

• Clearasil Rapid Action Treatment Gel

This salicylic acid gel works instantly to visibly reduce spot size and redness in just four hours.

• Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel

This gel contains a four-in-one clearing complex with salicylic acid. It clears up blemishes instantly and helps to prevent new ones from forming.

• LaserAway Vitamin C Day Cream

A must for everyone wanting the benefits of SPF in a moisturizer, LaserAway Vitamin C Day Cream is light, versatile, and rich in antioxidants.

• Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel

This medicated gel contains salicylic acid. It reduces pimples and scars, and it reverses new breakouts before they become visible.


  1. "Here's Exactly What Salicylic Acid Does to Your Skin," Allure, July 13, 2016.
  2. "Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Find Which Acne Treatment Is Right For You," Teen Vogue, October 13, 2016.
  3. "The Effects of Salicylic Acid on the Skin," Livestrong, August 16, 2013.
  • "What the Heck Is Salicylic Acid, And Why Is It in Your Skincare?," The Huffington Post, October 3, 2014.

dermatology | skin care | acne | blackheads | pimples