The Best Salicylic Face Washes and Cleansers of 2021

The Best Salicylic Face Washes and Cleansers

The secret to glowing skin is clean skin. And what better way to clean your skin than using a facial wash and cleanser made purposely for your face?

That said, it matters what cleansing agent is in your bottle of face wash. Most cleansers are now using salicylic acid because of its cleansing power and medicinal benefit. 

But, first, what is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), which helps to gently eliminate excess oil, impurities, and dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. It should not be confused with ordinary exfoliators because salicylic acid is a chemical. It goes deep into the skin to dissolve blackheads, balance excess oil, and remove buildup that ordinary exfoliators can’t.

Exfoliation by salicylic acid reveals a clean, bright, softer, smoother, and glowing skin. Unlike a face scrub, chemical exfoliation is gentle and delivers effective results. It treats skin conditions, too, since salicylic acid is medicinal.

Consistent exfoliation is beneficial for all skin types, especially oily skin, acne-prone, aging skin, dry skin, and even those with skin conditions. 

Normal skin can handle daily cleansing with salicylic acid but in safe quantities of 2% or less, while sensitive skin might burn or irritate with everyday use; once to twice a week is best for sensitive skin.

However, cleansing with salicylic acid makes your skin more sensitive to sunshine. Add sunscreen to your skincare routine to prevent damage from UV- use it every morning.

The 5 Best Salicylic Face Washes and Cleansers:

1. Paula’s Salicylic Acid Facial Cleanser

Best for oily and acne-prone skin

Paula's Salicylic Acid Facial Cleanser

With 2% salicylic acid, this facial cleanser is effective against blackheads, enlarged pores, wrinkles, and fine lines. What more would you want in a facial cleanser?

This unscented facial cleanser is infused with green tea to calm redness and soothe sensitivity quickly. The salicylic acid penetrates deep into pores to eliminate dirt and oil. It also targets aging signs, uneven tone, and it restores your skin’s texture to a smooth one. The result is bright, moisturized, and glowing skin.

The cleanser can fit acne-prone, oily, dry, combination, and other skin types. It’s free from parabens and synthetic additives that irritate your skin.

2. CeraVe Renewing SA Facial Cleanser

Best for clear and bright skin

CeraVe Renewing SA Facial Cleanser

This skincare grade cleanser is a dermatologist recommended to care for your skin no matter the type. It contains no harsh microbeads that irritate your skin. 

The formula of this cleanser combines salicylic acid with hyaluronic acid to exfoliate and detoxify your skin. It cleans your skin, removing dirt and excess oil while leaving it moisturized and smooth. 

It’s infused with vitamins to protect since it’s an antioxidant. The ceramide in the cleanser helps restore and maintain healthy skin, while niacinamide treats damaged skin and forms a barrier against germs and harsh weather.

The cleanser is fragrance-free to avoid irritation and is non-comedogenic.

3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Wash

Best salicylic facial cleanser for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Wash

La Roche Posay Facial Cleanser is a medicated cleanser in gel consistency to help clear acne. It’s infused with 2% salicylic acid, which helps eliminate breakouts and balances the oil on your skin. It’s a perfect cleanser for acne-prone oily skin.

This dermatologist-tested and recommended cleanser is also infused with micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid to remove all impurities and gently exfoliate the layer of dead skin cells, revealing glowing skin. 

It’s safe for people with allergies and sensitive skin since it’s been tested for allergy. The cleanser is also oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores).

4. Neutrogena OilFree Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena OilFree Facial Cleanser

If your skin is oily and acne-prone, this cleanser might do you good. Its oil-free formula coupled with aloe and chamomile clears acne, break out, and blackheads. At the same time, it soothes your skin, reducing itching and calms irritation. Aloe vera helps treat and restore your damaged skin.

The cleanser has a micro-clear technology that blends with salicylic acid to fight acne and absorb excess oil on your skin without leaving it dry. It penetrates deep into the skin to clear congested pores and impurities, resulting in break-out-free and healthy skin.

5. Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Face Wash

Best anti-aging salicylic facial cleanser

5. Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Face Wash

The combination of salicylic and glycolic acid in Peter Thomas Roth Cleanser makes it a perfect anti-aging cleanser. 

The salicylic acid cleans your face, removes chemical buildup, and breaks down grease that blocks your pores. What follows is smooth and clean facial skin.

The cleanser also contains botanical extracts which brighten your skin. It’s ideal for all skin types, but it can irritate your sensitive skin. So, try on a small patch of your skin before using it on your face.

On the flip side, this face wash makes you more sensitive to the sun; hence, use it together with sunscreen. 

Benefits of Salicylic Acid Facial Cleanser

Eliminating Blackheads

Blackheads are hard to remove using exfoliating scrubbers or tools because they are inside pores. Manual methods can make them sink further, causing enlarged pores. Due to its soluble nature, the acid penetrates deep to clear the blackheads from within.

Helps reduce inflammation 

The cleanser has anti-inflammatory properties that help clear breakouts and maintain flawless skin.

Decongest pores

Dirt, excess oil, and makeup residue clog your pores. Salicylic acid is non-comedogenic ( it doesn’t block pores). Unclogged pores absorb nutrients and vitamins from skincare products resulting in smooth, clear skin.

Exfoliation

Salicylic acid eliminates layers of dead skin cells, grease, and dirt from your skin. It unclogs your pores and makes your skin appear bright.

Clean skin

Clean skin can breathe and heal itself naturally. It makes you feel good about yourself and takes on makeup well.

Choosing the Best Salicylic Acid Facial Cleanser

Skin type

Oily skin takes to salicylic acid like dry skin does moisture. The acid penetrates the skin pores to dissolve excess sebum, which makes your face oily. It hence absorbs oil from your skin, creating a balance leaving your skin looking less oily. 

The acid is also great for acne-prone skin. It clears the impurities that cause acne, leaving your skin flawless.

If your skin is dry, you’ll benefit from a cleanser with hydrating ingredients besides the acid. Since the acid can dry your skin, you need a cleaner that adds moisture.

Eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions can be managed using acid. However, you should take caution if your skin is damaged. 

Amount of Salicylic Acid in the Cleanser

Salicylic acid has medicinal properties. Most salicylic acid cleansers contain 2% or less concentration of the acid as an active ingredient. 

Like all medicines, salicylic acid should be used in moderation because it can burn the skin. In addition, it’s an acid, and in higher concentration, it can irritate or, worse, burn your skin.

If your skin is normal or dry, the lesser the concentration, the better. A cleanser with 0.5%-1% may be ideal. Oily and acne-prone skin needs a concentration of 2% of the acid.

Other ingredients in the Salicylic Acid Facial Wash and Cleanser

The acid has the potential to cause irritation or damage your skin, depending on your skin type. Soothing ingredients like aloe vera, tea tree, niacinamide, and chamomile will come in handy to calm the irritation, especially on dry or acne-prone skin.

Some cleansers blend salicylic acid with another acid like glycolic acid or hyaluronic acid to benefit your skin more. Hyaluronic acid brightens your skin and makes it tight while fighting premature aging. Combining the acids can increase your skin’s uptake of salicylic acid and also increase its efficacy. 

Vitamins, herbal extracts, and antioxidants help restore your skin to its healthy state. Essential oils and ceramides will help you keep your skin hydrated, preventing drying, which causes wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin. Moisture makes your skin supple and elastic. But, it’s best to avoid oil-based cleansers if your skin is oily. 

Some ingredients have anti-aging properties that you could take advantage of. On the other hand, avoid ingredients like paraben, sulfates, artificial fragrances, and synthetic additives because they are responsible for irritation.

Side effects of Salicylic Acid

Since it’s an acid, it can dry your skin, irritate, and cause your skin to be vulnerable to sunshine. Even if you don’t work outdoors, your skin will still be sensitive.

FAQs

Is it okay to wash my face with a salicylic cleanser daily?

It depends on your skin type and the concentration of the acid in the cleanser.

If your skin is normal, you can use it daily, but you can limit it to twice a week if your skin is sensitive or dry. Use sparingly or avoid the acid if your skin is prone to inflammation. 

The higher the amount of salicylic acid in your cleanser, the more caution you should take. Unless it’s a prescription by a dermatologist, 2% of the acid is safe for use. Most facial washes contain 2% of the ingredients. A mild concentration like below 1% can be used daily for your normal skin.

Is a salicylic acid face wash effective?

Very effective. The acid cleans both the skin surface and exfoliates deep inside the pores. It dissolves quickly, so it’s able to penetrate your skin to absorb excess oil, remove impurities and clear even under the skin breakouts. Plus, it removes residues from your makeup. However, check first to see if it’s suited for your skin type.

Is salicylic acid face wash and cleanser good for acne?

Salicylic acid is the best for clearing acne. It’s dermatologist tested, and most doctors recommend it for clearing acne. The acid eliminates the cause of breakouts. Most cleansers targeted for fighting acne use acid as the first or second ingredient. An amount of 2% or lower is good for eliminating your acne.

Is it okay to wash my face with a salicylic cleanser daily?

It depends on your skin type and the concentration of the acid in the cleanser.

If your skin is normal, you can use it daily, but you can limit it to twice a week if your skin is sensitive or dry. Use sparingly or avoid the acid if your skin is prone to inflammation. 

The higher the amount of salicylic acid in your cleanser, the more caution you should take. Unless it’s a prescription by a dermatologist, 2% of the acid is safe for use. Most facial washes contain 2% of the ingredients. A mild concentration like below 1% can be used daily for your normal skin.

Is a salicylic acid face wash effective?

Very effective. The acid cleans both the skin surface and exfoliates deep inside the pores. It dissolves quickly, so it’s able to penetrate your skin to absorb excess oil, remove impurities and clear even under the skin breakouts. Plus, it removes residues from your makeup. However, check first to see if it’s suited for your skin type.

Is salicylic acid face wash and cleanser good for acne?

Salicylic acid is the best for clearing acne. It’s dermatologist tested, and most doctors recommend it for clearing acne. The acid eliminates the cause of breakouts. Most cleansers targeted for fighting acne use acid as the first or second ingredient. An amount of 2% or lower is good for eliminating your acne.

Bottom line

Like with any other skincare product, it’s hard to see results overnight. It takes time and consistency before you can see impressive changes.

We believe you can now find the best salicylic acid face wash and cleanser. The above are excellent choices to suit your skin type. You can get rid of dull skin, fine lines, wrinkles, blackheads, and breakouts using one of the above cleansers.

This article was last updated on September 14, 2021 .

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Categorized as Skincare