The 16 Best Salicylic Acid Face Washes & Cleansers Reviews 2021


If you thought that acne, blocked pores and pimples is only a problem for teenagers, you would be mistaken.

Even mature skin can be prone to these problems.

Sufferers with acne and breakouts are familiar with the pain of trying every remedy out there to keep skin clear and smooth.

As always, we are here to help you on your journey to clear, healthy skin.

If you have oily skin you have probably heard of salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is a compound that exfoliates dead skin cells, dissolves excess sebum (oil) and removes impurities from the skin.

In this article, we will tell you why the elimination of excess oil and dead skin cells is important for the health (and appearance) of your oily skin.

Why Do We Get Blackheads, Whiteheads and Pimples?

Your skin is constantly renewing.

Once the outer layer of skin has passed through its lifecycle, it is shed.

Sebum is produced by our skins to moisturize the skin naturally.

Oily skin results from the skin producing too much sebum.

If your skin tends to be oily, the elimination of dead skin cells doesn’t happen as it should.

Instead, the dead skin cells become trapped in sebum secreted through your pores.

This leads to the pores becoming blocked as the sebum cannot do its job properly.

The blockage, however, doesn’t stop your skin from secreting the sebum.

This leads to breakouts and acne.

Blocked pores, which can become pimples if not treated, are caused by excess sebum and dead skin cells which form plugs in our pores.

The plugs trap bacteria and germs, leading to inflammation.

This is where Salicylic Acid, used in face washes, cleansers and treatments aimed at eliminating blocked pores and acne, comes in.

Salicylic acid is able to penetrate the upper layers of the skin and dissolve excess oil so that trapped, dead skin cells can be washed away.

The result is clear skin and fewer breakouts.

What Is Salicylic Acid and How Does It Work?

According to the American Chemical Society, salicylic acid is a chemical derived from many plants.

It was first derived from the bark of the willow tree but is synthesized from other plants as well.

Salicylic acid works by exfoliating the top layer of the skin (called the stratum corneum).

This top layer consists of dead skin cells which are ready to be shed.

If you have oily skin, using a cleanser containing Salicylic acid, assists the skin in doing what it is naturally supposed to do.

Another major benefit of salicylic acid is that it can also reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

You may notice mild peeling and flaking of the skin cells after using a product containing this ingredient.

Aside from helping the skin to perform its natural function, the benefit of clearing excess oil and dead skin cells are many.

  • The skin looks healthier and is less prone to breakouts,
  • Make-up, especially foundation goes on more smoothly.
  • The skin is able to absorb any treatments better,
  • Fine lines and wrinkles are reduced,
  • Facial skin feels clean and fresh

Recommended by top dermatologists, salicylic acid sounds like just what the doctor ordered for your oily, acne prone skin.

A word of warning though, following use of a product containing this wonder ingredient, your skin will be more sensitive to sunlight.

Whether you use salicylic acid or not, always use a good sunscreen.

Best Salicylic Acid Face Washes and Cleansers in 2021

So, now that you know what you have needed all along, let’s have a look at some of the face washes and cleansers available to help you choose the right one for your skin.

Skinceuticals Lha Cleanser Gel

This highly rated cleansing gel is recommended by top dermatologists. It is suitable for oily, acne prone skin. It is also recommended for mature skin.

This cleansing gel contains both salicylic acid and sorbitol.

The salicylic acid gently exfoliates the upper layer of the skin while the sorbitol helps to keep the skin from drying out by attracting moisture from the environment.

Due to the action of salicylic acid, the presence of sorbitol in this cleansing gel ensures that your skin will not dry out.

For a clean, glowing skin, use this gel to thoroughly cleanse your skin leaving it a smooth and fresh feeling.

After using this product your skin will be better able to absorb any treatments you may need to use.

Epionce Purifying Wash

Another highly recommended cleanser, with its special blend of botanical ingredients, Epionce Purifying Wash is sure to make your list of go to face washes.

Containing willow bark extract, menthol and spearmint oil, this purifying wash, suitable for face and body, leaves skin feeling clean and fresh.

The cooling and purifying effects of menthol and the moisturising properties of spearmint oil ensures that your skin is tingly clean.

Spearmint oil is a wonderful antioxidant, while menthol cools and calms inflammation.

Mild enough to use both morning and evening, Epionce Purifying Wash is also available as a foaming face wash.

Brickell Acne Controlling Face Wash

For active people, Brickell has formulated this acne controlling face wash.

This certified organic face wash with an intricate blend of botanical ingredients ensures that your skin gets much needed nourishment.

The salicylic acid in this face wash goes to work on cleansing excess oil and dead skin cells.

You get the added bacteria busting benefits of tea tree oil to help prevent inflammation too.

As if that’s not enough, complexion brightening grapefruit extract, gives your skin that healthy glow.

Great for using after your workout or run.

It is recommended that you use this product at least twice daily.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser

A gentle foaming cleanser made for people who have sensitive skin, this cleanser has a carefully selected blend of ingredients to ensure that your skin is thoroughly but gently cleansed.

This cleanser will not upset the pH balance of your skin. Purslane soothes and calms skin while aloe vera nourishes and rejuvenates it.

Use by applying a small amount of foam to your skin in circular motions and then thoroughly rinse with lukewarm water. Your skin will be conditioned and silky soft after using this highly recommended cleanser.

Use any suitable treatment products after this face wash to ensure maximum absorption.  With no fragrances, minerals or parabens to harm your skin, you can safely and comfortably use this product twice per day.

Neutrogena Oil-free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser

Developed for acne prone skin, this cleanser with aloe vera and chamomile soothes skin.

It ensures that blocked pores are well cleansed without drying out your skin.

A special delivery system ensures that the salicylic acid gets to where it is needed.

The exfoliating effect of salicylic acid can truly be seen when this cleanser gets to work as the source of redness and irritation is addressed.

Future outbreaks are prevented as the formulation of this cleanser gets to the root of the problem by ensuring that blocked pores are eliminated.

Neutrogena is known for developing skin friendly products that work. It’s no surprise that this well priced product is very popular for treating acne.

Iope Derma Trouble Cleanser Facial Cleanser for Acne Prone Skin

Gentle cellulose micro crystals help this foaming wash to penetrate deep into the pores.

You get a guaranteed deep cleanse with this soft, rich foaming cleanser.

To fight problem skin you need a cleanser that can really get into the pores where problems start.

This deep cleaning cleanser promises to do just that.

It will leave your skin, clear, healthy and glowing.

For skin that is soft to the touch, you definitely need to try this one.

Facial Cleanser by Differin

For a gentler cleanse, especially if you have sensitive skin, try Differin’s facial cleanser.

It promises to condition your skin while the salicylic acid gets rid of oil and dead skin cells.

This low lather cleanser will not leave you with that dry tight feeling because it has glycerine and panthenol in it.

These ingredients actively moisturise your skin but won’t clog pores.

If you have sensitive acne prone skin that is easily irritated this is definitely a product you should try.

A range of complimentary products is available to ensure that that your skin gets everything it needs to be acne free.

Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

With both charcoal, known for its purifying properties and ability to absorb oil and salicylic acid known to be an effective acne treatment, you cannot go wrong with this cleanser.

To remove makeup, dirt, excess oil and dead skin cells, this cleanser can be a wonderful tool for fighting future breakouts. With double the cleansing action from two different ingredients, you can stop acne in its tracks.

Known for its ability to detoxify, charcoal gets to work detoxing your skin while salicylic acid unblocks your pores. The appearance of acne is reduced and future breakouts are prevented due to the dual action of this cleanser.

Lavo Glycolic Acid Face Wash for Acne-Prone Skin

Suitable for all ages, this combination of salicylic acid and lactic acid in a water soluble oil cleanser won’t dry your skin.

Made for oily, break out prone skin, this product deeply cleanses while maintaining essential moisture.

It leaves skin silky soft and smooth but super clean.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this product is only for oily skin. However, it is suitable for use on all skin types, even sensitive skin.

The manufacturers are so confident that you and your entire family will love this product that they offer a money back guarantee. How is that for confidence?

Botanic Tree Glycolic Acid Face Wash-facial Exfoliating Cleanser

Both glycolic acid and salicylic acid feature in this exfoliating face wash.

Why both, you may ask? Both act as exfoliants but glycolic acid adds an extra boost of spot fighting power.

Besides fighting spots this face wash can also minimise the appearance of acne scars through the action of daily exfoliating.

If you are looking for a product that addresses multiple skin issues, this one also has ingredients that lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Suitable for the whole family, why not give this American made product a try?

Glytone Acne Self Foaming Cleanser

This self-foaming product ensures that your skin gets the maximum benefit of exposure to salicylic acid.

It helps to eliminate blemishes by neutralising bacteria and keeping your pores clear and blockage free.

Made especially for sensitive skins, you can leave the foam on your skin for up to 30 seconds for a really deep cleanse without fear of dryness or irritation.

Apply by mixing a small amount of the cleanser with some water, and then apply to the skin in a thin layer.

The unique self-foaming formula must then be allowed to sit on the skin for 15 to 30 seconds for the foaming action to activate. Rinse thoroughly.

After using this product your skin will feel fresh and soft.

Instanatural Acne Face Wash

With a blend of natural and sustainably sourced ingredients, this company makes sure that it delivers a product that is both effective and safe.

Able to dissolve the skin plugs that can lead to the growth of bacteria which then causes breakouts, the blend of salicylic acid gently exfoliates while aloe vera, willow bark extract, oat extract, and ginger extract nourish the skin.

Aloe Vera is known for its nourishing and moisturising effect. This ingredient especially, will ensure that your skin will not feel dry and tight.

The peace of mind that comes from knowing that the ingredients used in this product have been tested to be safe is an added bonus to an already super product.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash

2% salicylic acid ensures that this cleanser gets to work removing excess oil and dead skin cells which so often lead to breakouts.

Gentle enough to be used twice daily, this face wash is sure to get your skin squeaky clean.

The blend of salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid leave your skin feeling smooth.

The cleanser targets oil and dirt build up leaving cleansed pores that look smaller.

Breakouts are minimised due to the action of this medicated face cleanser.

Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash 2% Salicylic Acid

This face wash works by removing excess dirt and oil from the skin. Soothing Allantoin and pro vitamin B5 ensures that your skin feels clean and soft.

The combination of 2% salicylic acid and provitamin B5 cleanses thoroughly while adding much needed moisture.

Vitamin B5 is known for its moisturizing properties and is used often in skin and hair products.

Lather a small amount onto the face, concentrating on areas that need it. Rinse thoroughly using lukewarm water for clean, soft feeling skin.

Soothing and healing allantoin provides the added benefit of calming irritation.

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

The active ingredient, Salicylic Acid, washes away excess oil and dead skin cells.

Meanwhile, add tea tree oil, eucalyptus and mint, neutralise bacteria and cool irritation. Your skin will feel amazing.

The double action of this face wash prevents future breakouts by clearing clogged pores. It is suitable for use on face, neck and chest areas.

This cleanser lathers to a pleasant clean feeling foam.

Daily use can help to prevent future breakouts.

Skinmedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

For mature skin that tends to breakout, try this exfoliating cleanser. Salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid combine to produce a power house cleanser that also helps to erase fine lines and wrinkles.

The added benefit of the dual exfoliating ingredients ensures that the skin tone is evened out and skin appears smoother.

The beautiful scents of citrus and lavender are known to impact positively on your mood. This amazing product, like many of the others mentioned here, truly provide great value, in whatever price bracket they fall with the added benefits they provide.


Tried and tested salicylic acid has shown itself to be a powerful tool for combating acne. Used correctly and as advised by dermatologists it can be your number one weapon for combatting the effects of excess oil, keeping skin clean and clear and functioning as it should. No that you know what salicylic acid can do for your skin; you have no reason not to try one of these products today.

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