You’re never too old for pimples, unfortunately. But if you’re dealing with acne on a regular basis, you need salicylic acid treatment. Salicylic acid fights inflammation and unclogs pores. The result is clearer skin with fewer blemishes.
Products with high salicylic acid concentrations are drying to sensitive skin. But the typical over-the-counter cleanser is safe to use as often as twice a day. That’s important, because it may take up to a month to get acne under control. And salicylic acid face wash is good for blackheads because it shrinks pores, too.
- Top Salicylic Acid Face Washes & Cleansers
- Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Acne Face Wash with Salicylic Acid
- Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
- Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Cleanser
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne-Fighting Face Wash
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser
- Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid
- Clean & Clear Oil-Free Deep Action Cream Facial Cleanser
- Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid Blemish Treatment
- Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 5-2 Acne Cleanser
- Bioré Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser
- Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser for Oily Skin
- Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
- Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Daily Acne Face Wash
- Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser
- dr. brandt Pores No More Cleanser
- skyn ICELAND Glacial Face Wash
- How to fight acne and win
Top Salicylic Acid Face Washes & Cleansers
Following are reviews of the best salicylic acid face cleansers. At this time, there is no single face wash with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together. But you may find that alternating these two treatments makes your acne disappear faster.
Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Acne Face Wash with Salicylic Acid
Seventy-six women tested the Vichy Normaderm Deep Cleansing Gel for a month. Ninety percent of those women reported that their skin looked healthier. And over seventy percent said that their skin’s texture had also improved. That’s because this face wash contains three powerful but gentle exfoliants like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and beta-lipohydroxy acid.
Together, these ingredients purify pores and remove excess oil. Also important, the formula does not contain parabens or alcohols. It’s safe to use both morning and night.
Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser
If your face tends to react badly to face washes, try the CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser from Paula’s Choice. It has a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid. That’s a gentle formulation that won’t dry out sensitive skin. Plus, this silky gel is a pleasure to use.
Like other products from the same company, you also won’t have to worry about parabens or artificial fragrances.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
The Effaclar Medicated Gel from La Roche-Posay won the Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2016. It’s a good choice for persons with oily skin. That’s because the 2% salicylic acid formula is strong enough to reduce the extra oil by almost half.
This cleanser is free of oils, parabens, and artificial fragrances. It contains glycerin to fight dryness, plus menthol to make it feel cool and soothing to skin.
Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Cleanser
Phisoderm’s Anti-Blemish Cleanser is a favorite face wash among people with sensitive combination skin. Its pH-balanced formula is free from alcohol, dye, and soap. Plus, it has 2% salicylic acid for maximum cleaning power.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash
Neutrogena has an entire lineup of salicylic acid face washes. One of their most popular is the pink grapefruit version. It has an appealing citrus scent.
One of the reasons why Neutrogena’s cleansers are recommended by dermatologists is because they do more than fight breakouts. The Micro-Clear technology also fades acne scars over time.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne-Fighting Face Wash
The regular version of the Neutrogena face wash has all the features of the grapefruit version minus the fruity scent. It reduces oiliness, purifies pores, and prevents acne breakouts. If you find that your skin feels dry and tight after using it, switch to lathering up once a day instead of twice. Make sure to rinse well with lukewarm water, pat dry, and apply moisturizer afterward.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser
Neutrogena also makes a salicylic acid face cleanser with aloe and chamomile extracts. This formula is milder than the one reviewed above. It’s more soothing to skin that tends to redden after washing.
Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid
Our final pick from Neutrogena’s lineup is their Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser with salicylic acid. This is a very gentle face wash because it lacks harsh chemicals like parabens, dyes, sulfates, and phthalates. Even the salicylic acid is naturally derived from willow bark.
Clean & Clear Oil-Free Deep Action Cream Facial Cleanser
The Clean & Clear Deep Action Cleanser feels refreshingly cool as you wash your face. While the creamy lather tingles on your skin, it’s lifting up dirt from your pores.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid Blemish Treatment
Aveeno’s Clear Complexion cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid and crystalline wax micro-beads. The combination improves your skin’s texture while it fights acne. Plus, the soy complex moisturizes to prevent your skin from drying out too much.
Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 5-2 Acne Cleanser
The Gly/Sal Acne Cleanser from Replevin contains 2% salicylic acid and 10% glycolic acid. Not only does it battle acne effectively, but it also helps heal keratosis pilaris.
Bioré Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser
Bioré’s Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser lathers away dirt and oil to get rid of blackheads and pimples. Also, the formula contains natural antibacterial ingredients like eucalyptus and lavender.
Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser for Oily Skin
The Bioré Charcoal Cleanser is a smart choice for persons with oily skin. The charcoal absorbs excess oil while the salicylic acid cleanses pores and exfoliates dead skin. But the formula is so strong that Bioré recommends using it just 2 to 3 times per week.
Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
The Acne Solutions Cleanser from Burt’s Bees is 99.4% natural. It has naturally derived 1% salicylic acid from willow bark. But it also contains beetroot and evening primrose extracts that calm skin.
Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Daily Acne Face Wash
Although the Neutrogena Men Skin face wash contains 2% salicylic acid, it’s not the same as the majority of products listed above. This one has what customers describe as a “masculine scent.” It’s also good for softening up skin and hair before shaving.
Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser
Mario Badescu’s Acne Facial Cleanser is a gel with salicylic acid plus natural ingredients to soothe and clarify skin. The natural ingredients include aloe, chamomile, and thyme. And customers seem divided regarding this product. Some love it while others relay disappointment.
dr. brandt Pores No More Cleanser
The standout feature of the dr. brandt Pores No More Cleanser is that it contains tea tree oil. This component fights acne all on its own. But it’s also accompanied by salicylic acid derived from willow bark.
skyn ICELAND Glacial Face Wash
If you’re tired of the soreness, redness, and irritation of an acne breakout, you’ll like the skyn face wash. It’s made with pure glacial water from Iceland. And it cleanses your skin with willow bark, Icelandic kelp, and amino acids from oats. The cruelty-free formula is 100% vegan and free of sulfates, parabens, and silicones.
How to fight acne and win
Pimples, zits, acne…Whatever you call it, it’s annoying. Not only are those bumps unsightly, but they also hurt, too. So how can you fight acne and win?
Let’s be realistic. You’ve done your best to resist popping zits and touching your face. You remove your makeup before bed and change your pillowcase once a week. Maybe you’ve even changed your diet to drink more water and eat healthier. But you’re still breaking out. What gives?
Salicylic acid vs. scrubs with harsh exfoliators
The culprit could be your face wash. The reason why we recommend salicylic acid cleansers is because they exfoliate more gently than a scrub. It takes time, but they unclog pores and shrink them. Plus, salicylic acid reduces inflammation and prevents acne. If you’ve never tried a salicylic acid face wash, the time is now.
If you’re concerned that a 2% solution will be too harsh, try one with 0.5% and use it once a day. You can always work your way up to something stronger once your skin adjusts.
But there is a time for exfoliating with something stronger. You may find that using an exfoliating face mask or scrub once a week helps maintain healthy skin. Just don’t overdo it because damaging your skin will open it up to infection and more acne.
The method matters
Also, the way you wash your face matters. Plan on cleansing your skin just once in the morning and once at night. Use lukewarm or cool water and avoid extremes of temperature. This keeps your skin from overreacting and producing more oil.
Next, when beauty experts recommend patting your face dry, they mean it. Again, it’s all about reducing irritation.
After you’ve cleansed your face, always apply moisturizer. Get in the habit; make it a ritual. Happily, hydrated skin is less likely to develop blemishes.
It’s the hormones
There are three times in your life when you’re likely to have more acne: your teenage years, during pregnancy, and around the time of menopause. It’s even more aggravating during those periods because you’re likely to feel more sensitive about your appearance.
If hormones are giving you pimples, remind yourself that this trying time will pass. Try new skin care products and see how they work for you. Think of it as a chance to experiment with new things.
If you’re tired of acne, try one of the best salicylic acid face washes. They will cleanse your pores and get rid of inflammation and blackheads. These cleansers are one of the best ways to gently exfoliate your skin and improve its texture, too.