skincare tips
BY: LBL Team

10 Best Salicylic Acid Substitutes for Acne

What to use instead of salicylic acid

Acne can be stubborn. And sometimes it doesn’t respond to common conventional over-the-counter acne treatments that use salicylic acid. If you’ve tried different forms of salicylic acid but you’re still plagued by breakouts, check out these ten acne busting alternatives:

1. Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a great alternative to salicylic acid. It combats more stubborn and severe forms of acne by unclogging pores and reducing bacterial growth on the surface of the skin. Because benzoyl peroxide can be overdrying, you should start with a lower concentration and slowly work your way up.

2. Sulfur

If you find that your acne doesn’t respond to salicylic acid alone, you might want to combine it with sulfur, which works best on mild to moderate acne. Sulfur decreases pimples by drying out the skin, cutting down on oil production. It also helps slough away dead skin cells, preventing pores from becoming clogged.

3. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a fruit acid that can reduce the frequency of breakouts. It inhibits bacterial growth on the surface of the skin, and it also exfoliates the skin, helping to get rid of dead skin cells and unclogging pores. For glycolic acid to be effective on acne, you should use a pH of 3 or 4.

4. Zinc oxide

Zinc oxide is a natural mineral that has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It helps to calm inflammation associated with acne lesions, and it also reduces acne-causing bacteria. You should look for skin care products, such as spot treatments, toners, and sunscreens, that contain zinc oxide.

5. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that fights acne by killing acne-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin and reducing inflammation caused by acne lesions. It also dries out blackheads and whiteheads. You can apply tea tree oil directly to blemishes after first cleansing skin.

6. Allantoin

Allantoin is a natural chemical compound that plants produce. It battles acne by soothing irritated skin and loosening dead skin cells, preventing pores from becoming clogged. You can find allantoin in a wide variety of skin care products including toners, cleansers, face masks, and facial lotions.

7. Willow bark extract

Willow bark extract is a natural source of salicylic acid. But it also contains phenolic acids that reduce acne. Willow bark extract works as a natural skin exfoliant that unclogs pores. What’s more, it reduces acne-causing bacteria. You should look for all natural skin care products that contain willow bark extract, such as cleansers and facial lotions.

8. Marine algae

Marine algae has skincare properties similar to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid — it reduces oil production and unclogs pores. The powerful antioxidants also found in marine algae reduce redness and inflammation, helping blemishes to heal faster.

9. Gotu kola

Gotu kola is a powerful and versatile herb found in India that reduces outbreaks and heals unsightly acne scars. It decreases acne-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin while toning skin, resulting in a clearer complexion.

10. Licorice root

Licorice root comes from the licorice plant. It helps fight acne by reducing oil production and unclogging pores. Licorice root also balances and detoxifies skin. You should look for specialty all natural skin care products specifically containing licorice root.

Wake up to clearer skin

While salicylic acid is one of the most popular over-the-counter skin care ingredients used to fight acne, not all people respond well to it. If you find that salicylic acid isn’t working for you, try out one of the above acne-busting alternatives.

And as always, look for noncomedogenic skincare for a healthy daily routine. LaserAway Beauty products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, drying alcohol, harsh sulfates, mineral oil and petrolatum. Using ingredients scientifically proven to improve skin health, our formulations use the most advanced ingredient technologies at clinically effective levels to assure maximum performance and optimal results.

  1. “9 Salicylic Acid Alternatives to Treat Acne if Your Skin Doesn’t Respond to BHAs,” Bustle, March 9, 2017.
  2. “Alternatives to Salicylic Acid For Acne-Prone Skin,” Orogold, April 14, 2017.
  3. “These Natural Alternatives to Popular Acne Treatments Will Change Your Life,” Spoon University, October 30, 2017.
  4. “Treating Acne with Sulfur,” Very Well, October 16, 2017.
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