10 Best Salicylic Acid Cleansers of 2021


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When it comes to a fair complexion, you should use salicylic acid. It is a type of fat-soluble beta-hydroxy acid that effectively penetrates the skin , removing excess oil and sebum that cause pimples , blackheads and other forms of acne. It also exfoliates your skin by removing dead cells from your skin. a surface that can contribute to clogged pores and dull skin. It can even help reduce inflammation associated with breakouts .

There are many salicylic acid-based facial cleansers on the market, but most brands have a unique way of integrating the ingredient into their formulas. However, not all salicylic cleansing gels are the same. They come in different formulas, uses, and strengths that affect how your skin will ultimately react to this chemical.

Here are the best salicylic acid cleaners on the market.

Final verdict

The best salicylic acid cleanser is ultimately designed to cleanse your specific skin type and does so effectively without causing excessive dryness, arousal, or other side effects. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser ( see Dermstore ) is a great affordable option for oily, acne-prone, and combination skin. For more sensitive skin, skyn ICELAND Glacial Face Wash (see Amazon ) is suitable. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right cleaner, but if you start with these products, you probably won't have to try much more.

What to look for in a salicylic acid cleanser

Salicylic acid percentage:

'Salicylic acid reduces oil and sebum on the skin. It also helps exfoliate dead skin cells from the skin's surface, which also contributes to clogged pores and dull skin, ‚ÄĚsays Jordan Carville, MD , a leading board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist. 'One of the key characteristics of a cleanser is the strength of the active ingredient, in this case salicylic acid. The most common percentage of strength in facial cleansers is 2%. "

Two percent is a safe and effective concentration for normal, oily, and acne-prone skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, choose a less intense cleanser with 0.5-1% salicylic acid.


Salicylic acid can easily upset the skin's moisture balance, causing dryness, redness, irritation, and other unpleasant side effects. That's why some face wash formulas include ingredients like soothing botanicals, hyaluronic acid, and ceramide moisturizers. Look for products that contain one of these elements whenever possible.

"Sensitive or dry skin often cannot tolerate salicylic acid ingredients due to increased irritation or dehydration of the skin," says Dr. Carville. "Be sure to apply moisturizer to your skin after using these products so it doesn't get too dry or irritated."

Pure Ingredients:

It is always a good idea to keep chemicals like parabens and sulfates away from the skin, especially the face. Look at the labels and choose natural, organic and pure products whenever possible.

Frequently asked questions

  • If your skin tolerates it, salicylic acid cleansers can be safely used once or twice a day .

    "Salicylic acid on acne skin should show a reduction in the severity of lesions and a reduction in the number of lesions within five days," says James Beckman, MD , board certified plastic surgeon and associate professor of dermatology. clinic at UAMS. (Arkansas School of Medicine). 'The skin will also be smoother with exfoliation. When these changes are visible, it is a sign that the medicine is of good quality and working properly. "But be patient because it may take several weeks for it to appear on your skin.

  • Salicylic acid is not considered technically safe to use during pregnancy. "However, it is important to note that the studies showing that salicylic acid is unsafe during pregnancy were done with a topical cream with 40% salicylic acid applied all over the body and on the left," says Orit Markowitz., Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder. of OptiSkin in New York. This is in stark contrast to the low salicylic acid concentration of 2% or less commonly found in over-the-counter cleaners. And immediately washed. It is best to consult a dermatologist and gynecologist to determine a safe acne treatment during pregnancy.

  • Salicylic acid is an acid so it can cause redness, peeling, and dryness, and people with dry or sensitive skin are especially prone to these side effects.

    Using salicylic acid can make your skin more sensitive to light , so daily use of an SPF is a must. "Due to sensitivity to the sun, sunscreen is recommended when using salicylic acid on sun-exposed skin," says Dr. Beckman.

Safety note

Do not overuse salicylic acid cleaners as they can dry out and irritate the skin. Most dermatologists recommend applying a quality moisturizer after every wash. Be sure to keep these products out of sight and rinse immediately if they come in contact. Wear sunscreen when using salicylic cleansers because they can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should not use salicylic acid products. Lastly, if you are still concerned about choosing the right product, discuss your needs and options with a board certified dermatologist.

Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid that is soluble in oil, so it penetrates deep into the pores to remove excess oil and unclog pores. It also acts as an exfoliator and helps remove dead skin cells, improving skin tone and texture. In addition, it can also help reduce inflammation, so it can be useful for all types of rashes. While cleansers are a great way to incorporate salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acids into your daily skincare routine, other helpful options include toners, peels, and serums. In many acne and exfoliating products, the use of salicylic acid can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so it is important to consider sunscreen. Marisa K. Garshik, MD , board certified dermatologist.

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As a seasoned health writer, Alena Hall understands how important it is to know exactly what you are getting from a wellness product. Over the years, he has reviewed dozens of products, from sports recovery products to homeopathic essential oils to the ever-trendy CBD products, to help readers like you discover products that will help you live your best life.

Additional information to this story by Jennifer Nayde

As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nay understands how important food quality recommendations are to safely and effectively treating symptoms at home. For more than 10 years, you've researched products, interviewed experts, researched ingredients thoroughly, and researched research and claims to help readers like you understand what works in your particular environment. Each product in this edition has been selected based on medical advice, published research, and real-life customer reviews.

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