If you suffer from acne, it can sometimes feel as though you’ve tried everything and nothing actually works to clear your skin. However, salicylic acid has been scientifically proven to help prevent clogged pores and get rid of acne. It is a gentle acid that works to penetrate multiple layers of the skin, unclogging pores and getting rid of excess oil.

Salicylic acid is actually part of a series of acids called BHAs- or beta hydroxy acids. A beta-hydroxy acid acts as a chemical exfoliant and can aid your skin in its exfoliation process. They also help break down any excess oil.

A natural salicylic acid source is white willow and natural salicylic acid can now be found in a few facial cleansers.

To read more about how salicylic acid works click here.

A lot of skincare brands are now getting behind this miracle cure and are offering cleansers with a gentle percentage of salicylic acid. These cleansers can be highly effective at clearing the skin of acne breakouts, acne scarring, and many even have anti-aging properties. Therefore, if you have acne-prone skin, especially acne-prone oily skin, it’s highly recommended that you try a salicylic acid face wash.

Here, there are three of the best salicylic acid cleansers on the market right now.

Top 3 Salicylic Acid Cleansers Editors Choices

ProductOur Rating

Misumi skin cleanser
#1. Misumi Clear Skin Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Key features: This cleanser uses salicylic acid for a deep pore-penetrating power that will clear any active breakouts.

  • 4 fl oz
  • Helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Produces collagen for a youthful complexation
  • Pore-penetrating exfoliant to clear active breakouts
  • Soothes and calms pimples


Murad hydration bottle

#2. Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser - Triple Action Exfoliating Facial Cleanser with Salicylic, Lactic and Glycolic Acid- Skin Smoothing Polish

Key features: Designed to handle both active breakouts and minimize acne scarring, making it a great multi-action product for those who suffer from breakouts.

  • 6.75 fl oz
  • Gentle Jojoba exfoliant beads
  • Works deep into the skin to keep it clear
  • Incredibly refreshing wash
  • Reveals bright and clear complexation

Paulas choice Salycilic acid cleanser
#3 Paulas Choice--SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant--Facial Exfoliant for Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Wrinkles & Fine Lines

Key features: This cleanser combines glycolic acid with salicylic acid for the ultimate acne treatment. These two acids work to clear breakouts, exfoliate pores and smooth skin.

  • 4 fl ounces
  • Promotes exfoliation within the skin’s pores
  • Includes green tea extracts to soothe and soften skin
  • 91% of users had noticeably healthier skin
  • Prevents future breakouts as well as treating active pimples


The Best Salicylic Acid Cleansers

With so many different skincare products available on the market, it can be hard to find the best salicylic acid face wash for your skin’s needs. We’ve narrowed down our top five salicylic acid face washes that are certain to improve the health of your skin.

#1 Misumi Clear Skin Salicylic Acid Cleanser

This cleanser uses salicylic acid for a deep pore-penetrating power that will clear any active breakouts.

It works to remove impurities, dead skin cells and excess oils from your skin’s uppermost layers. The salicylic acid content boosts collagen for a more youthful complexion.
Find out more about Misumi

Key features

  • clear any active breakouts
  • remove impurities, dead skin cells and excess oils

Pros

  • 4 fl oz
  • Helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Produces collagen for a youthful complexation
  • Pore-penetrating exfoliant to clear active breakouts
  • Soothes and calms pimples

Cons

  • Slightly Drying
  • Causes some redness
This cleanser is effective at both clearing skin from acne and handling signs of aging, such as fine lines or wrinkles to leave your complexion bright and youthful.

#2 Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser – Triple Action Exfoliating Facial Cleanser with Salicylic, Lactic and Glycolic Acid- Skin Smoothing Polish

Murad hydration bottle

This gentle wash is a two-in-one product that can be used to treat acne on either the face or body.

It is designed to handle both active breakouts and minimize acne scarring, making it a great multi-action product for those who suffer from breakouts.

The salicylic acid content works to unclog pores and keeps them clear preventing future breakouts. It is tough enough to handle both black and whiteheads while maintaining gentle on the skin.
Find out more about Murad

Key features

Pros

  • 6.75 fl oz
  • Gentle Jojoba exfoliant beads
  • Works deep into the skin to keep it clear
  • Incredibly refreshing wash
  • Reveals bright and clear complexation

Cons

  • Thick consistency

Using this cleanser on a daily basis will show a decrease in breakouts, as it actively works to treat current pimples and as well as preventing any future breakouts. It is regarded as one of the best salicylic acid cleansers.

#3 Paulas Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant–Facial Exfoliant for Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Wrinkles & Fine Lines

Paulas choice Salycilic acid cleanser

This cleanser uses salicylic acid for the ultimate acne treatment. This works to clear breakouts, exfoliate pores, and smooth skin.

The cleanser has been specially formulated to be gentle enough for even sensitive skin. Both acids work together to unclog pores, remove dead cells and regulate the skin’s natural oil production. It is a gentle wash that maintains the skin’s natural quality while aiding acne repair.

There are multiple strengths of this cleanser available to suit any skin type or acne issue.

Key features

  • Clears/ can prevent breakouts
  • exfoliate pores
  • removes dead skin

Pros

  • 4 fl ounces
  • Promotes exfoliation within the skin’s pores
  • Includes green tea extracts to soothe and soften skin
  • Prevents future breakouts as well as treating active pimples

Cons

  • Best to use on severe acne
  • If used too often can have negative effects on dark skin tones
This cleanser combines two incredible skincare ingredients to help maintain a high quality of complexation. It is tough enough to handle breakouts, but gentle enough to be used daily on the face.

#4 CeraVe SA Cleanser | Salicylic Acid Face and Body Wash with Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide & Ceramides| BHA Exfoliant for Face and Body

Cerave SA Cleanser

This stimulating face and body chemical exfoliator will remove impurities from the pores in the skin to reveal natural beauty.

As an exfoliant, this salicylic acid face and body wash will remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin to reveal a bright, youthful complexion.

With salicylic acid, this cleanser acts as a two-in-one product. There is no need for toner if you use this as it both cleanses and tightens the skin.

Key features

  • removes impurities
  • removes dead skin cells
  • acts as two-in-one – no need for toner

Pros

  • 8 ounces
  • Exclusive pearlescent cleanser
  • A uniquely pH balanced formula for anti-aging
  • Leaves skin clear, soft and smooth
  • Reveals a dewy youthful complexion

Cons

  • Can cause redness if over used

This stimulating salicylic acid face wash works to reveal a brighter, more youthful complexion. This cleanser will help boost your confidence and make you appear healthier.

#5 Vichy Normaderm Daily Acne Treatment Face Wash, Salicylic Acid Face Cleanser for Oily & Acne Prone Skin

Vichy SA Cleanser

This cleanser works by smoothing the skin while removing dirt and excess oils through exfoliation.

It uses a combination of salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidant vitamin D to remove dead skins cells and reveal a clear, bright, and clean complexation underneath.

This facial cleanser does not contain any harsh microbeads that are commonly found in exfoliants, so you can rest assured that your skin is getting a deep clean without the threat of damage.

Key features

  • smoothing the skin while removing dirt
  • does not contain harsh microbeads
  • Good for oily and acne prone skin

Pros

  • 6.76 fl ounces
  • Non-comedogenic, non-drying, and non-irritating cleanser
  • Gentle but effective formula
  • Gets rid of excess oil
  • No microbeads for a safe but effective exfoliation
  • Cleanses and smooths skin texture for a brighter complexion
  • Due to it containing three essential ceramides, it can be good for dry or sensitive skin
  • Can also be used on body acne
  • Great for mild acne

Cons

  • Doesnt remove makeup well

This salicylic acid cleanser uses a gentle but effective formula to increase the quality of your skin. It works by removing impurities from pores to prevent future breakouts. It also includes three all-important skin ceramides and is approved by dermatologists, making it one of the best salicylic acid face washes on the market.

Buyers Guide To Salicylic Acid Cleansers: FAQs

 

A cleanser that contains salicylic acid can sound a bit threatening to those who have never used this ingredient before. However, once you understand how effective it is for acne treatment, there’ll be no more doubts! A salicylic acid fash wash can truly work wonders when it comes to treating acne.

If it is a less harsh cleanser that you are after then we have you covered. Check out our top rated face cleansers.

How to Choose the Right Acne Cleanser

There is an overwhelming choice of acne treatments available over-the-counter. Each product proclaims to be the best, but that mightn’t be the case with your skin.

When choosing an acne treatment that’s best for your needs, you need to consider your own skin type and personal preferences. After all, this is a product you’re going to be using every day!

You should consider:

The Type of Cleanser You Prefer

Do you want a foaming wash? Perhaps you would prefer a bar of soap that can be used for a long time without any waste? 

Choice

Allow your preferences to guide you in choosing the best acne treatment for your needs.

Whether You Need A Medicated Option

Depending on how to serve your acne is, you may need to consider a medicated treatment. Most acne treatments contain salicylic acid, which is a natural acid that is highly effective in treating and clearing acne. If you do need a medicated skincare treatment, the percentage of salicylic acid can be higher than those you can buy from the drugstore.

To find out more about prescription medication click here.

How Does it Feel on the Skin?

The best way to make the right choice for your skin is to simply pay attention to how it feels.

Visit Bioelements to find out how to choose the best cleanser for your face.

Salicylic acid vs. Scrubs with Harsh Exfoliators

No matter how bad your acne may be, you still need to treat your skin with tender care. A lot of acne treatments are incredibly harsh, and if you have sensitive skin, such treatments can truly wreak havoc on the health of your skin.

Most facial scrubs contain microbeads or some other tough component to exfoliate. These scrubs are not as gentle as they may claim. The uneven edges on the exfoliating beads can cause great damage to your skin.

However, a salicylic acid cleanser actually encourages your skin’s natural healing process. They work by helping to remove dead cells, unclogging pores, and encouraging your skin to do the rest.

Moreover, if used properly, they should not damage your skin barrier in the way that an exfoliating scrub can. If you have sensitive skin, maintaining a healthy skin barrier is so important; so if you wish to exfoliate, try a salicylic acid wash instead of a scrub.

What’s the difference between salicylic and glycolic acid, and what is best for acne?

Salicylic acid is the only acid that can penetrate oil as it is oil-soluble. This means it can reach inside the skin’s pores to exfoliate. This process allows the content of the pore to move around freely and to be removed without damage.

Salicylic acid is best for oily, combination or acne-prone skin.

However, if you have mature, dry, or sun-damaged, or sensitive skin, then glycolic acid is the best choice for you. Glycolic acid is part of a series of acids called AHAs 0 alpha-hydroxy acids. Glycolic acid penetrates into the skin’s deeper layers and is highly effective at healing skin issues.

Some people’s skin can even tolerate both salicylic acid and glycolic acid, though it is recommended to use them on alternate days and work up to that level of usage. For sensitive skin types, try a product containing the lowest percentage of your chosen chemical exfoliant, and see how your skin reacts.

Conclusion

Have a think about what properties you prefer in a face wash, and apply that to your search for the best salicylic acid face wash for you. You may not find the best salicylic acid wash for you on your first buy, but hopefully, our review of some of the best salicylic acid face washes out there will aid your search!