The Best Salicylic Acid Products

Salicylic acid is a hydroxy acid that can improve the appearance of your skin. It can help minimize acne, reduce the production of sebum (which can cause acne), smooth out rough skin, and even help reduce the signs of aging. Many people of various ages like to use salicylic acid products. These products come in many different formulations, including facial and body washes, creams, and peels.

We evaluated dozens of salicylic acid products in an effort to bring you the best of the best. We reviewed several different types, so you have a lot of options to choose from. Some of the factors we kept in mind were overall value, how well the products work, and what Amazon buyers had to say about their experiences using the products.

If you are looking for a different type of acne treatment, you might want to check out our list of the best tea tree oils for acne.

Best Salicylic Acid Product Overall
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Smooth out rough and bumpy facial skin with this facial wash.

Our favorite salicylic acid product overall is CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser. This facial cleanser can help to smooth out rough, bumpy skin. It’s an exfoliant that also contains vitamin D to help hydrate the skin underneath the flakes and bumps.

The 5 Top-Rated Salicylic Acid Products

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallCeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser4.5
Best PeelSalicylic Acid 5% Solution by Pure Organic Ingredients4.1
Best Budget BuyAveeno Clear Complexion Daily Facial Cleansing Pads4.5
Best CreamCeraVe SA Cream4.7
Best Body WashNeutrogena Body Clear Body Wash with Salicylic Acid4.5

*Ratings are from Amazon and might change over time.

Best Salicylic Acid Product Overall: CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser made the very top of our list of the best products made with salicylic acid. If you have rough facial skin, this cleanser can help smooth it out while removing dirt, oil, and other substances that can clog pores and cause or exacerbate acne. It works by removing dead cells on the surface of your skin while also hydrating the new skin underneath. The end result is softer, smoother skin that looks great and feels amazing.

This product has no fragrance, so it’s good for those who don’t want to add extra ingredients to their skincare regimens. It contains three essential ceramides, which help your skin maintain its protective barrier, resulting in fewer acne lesions and less irritation. It has a non-drying and non-irritating formula. The exfoliant does not contain microbeads, which can inflame and irritate your skin.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser Key Features:

  • 8-ounce bottle
  • Pump top
  • Gently exfoliates skin
  • Hydrates new skin underneath
  • Fragrance-free
  • No microbeads
  • Contains three essential ceramies
  • Non-drying, non-irritating

Best Salicylic Acid Peel: Salicylic Acid 5% Solution by Pure Organic Ingredients

Best Salicylic Acid Peel
Salicylic Acid 5% Solution by Pure Organic Ingredients
Rejuvenate your skin with this gentle and effective skin peel.

If you are looking for a peel, we recommend Salicylic Acid 5% Solution by Pure Organic Ingredients. This is a 30mL bottle of 5 percent salicylic acid. You simply apply to your skin with a cotton ball, let it sit on your skin for up to five minutes, then rinse off with warm water. It will work to get rid of acne, clogged pores, blackheads, fine wrinkles, and other skin imperfections. You can also layer this product; the instructions are provided.

The salicylic acid and other ingredients are professional grade. They’re paraben-free and cruelty-free, so you can feel good about purchasing it. It is safe enough to use every day as long as it is not irritating your skin. It will help lighten dark marks and it can also help prevent future acne breakouts when used regularly.

Salicylic Acid 5% Solution by Pure Organic Ingredients Key Features:

  • 30mL bottle
  • Easy to apply, rinses off
  • Removes acne, clogged pores, fine wrinkles and more
  • Professional grade
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Safe enough to use every day

Best Budget Salicylic Acid Product: Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Facial Cleansing Pads

Best Budget Salicylic Acid Product
Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Facial Cleansing Pads
Treat your acne with these wallet-friendly cleansing pads.

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Facial Cleansing Pads are at the top of the pack among budget salicylic acid products. This is a package of 28 pads that will help control acne breakouts and make skin look more radiant and feel smoother. They are already premoistened with the salicylic acid solution; all you need to do is use the smooth side to cleanse your skin, then flip it over and use the textured side to exfoliate, leaving your skin clean and soft.

These won’t clog your pores and are designed to be used daily. They don’t contain any soaps or oils. They foam up as you use them, cleaning out your pores and removing dirt, oil, sebum, and dead skin cells. They contain soy extract, which moisturizes and softens skin while reducing blotches and discoloration.

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Facial Cleansing Pads Key Features:

  • 28 premoistened pads
  • Dual-sided for cleaning and exfoliating
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Contain no soaps or oils
  • Contain soy extract
  • Can be used daily

Best Salicylic Acid Cream: CeraVe SA Cream

Best Salicylic Acid Cream
CeraVe SA Cream
Use this cream for smooth and supple skin all over your body.

If you are looking for a body cream with salicylic acid, we recommend CeraVe SA Cream. This is a product made with dermatologists to reduce bumpiness and roughness all over the body. You will want to use this after cleaning your skin; it will help remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and otherwise contribute to softer, smoother skin on your arms, legs, and back. This cream is an exfoliant and also a moisturizer.

This cream contains essential ceramides to help your skin maintain its optimal level of moisture. It also uses controlled-release technology to keep your skin well-moisturized all day long. It is good for sensitive skin, as it contains no fragrances or dyes. It won’t clog pores and it’s non-comedogenic. Its rich, creamy texture is perfect for dry skin–you’ll start feeling its effects as soon as it soaks in.

CeraVe SA Cream Key Features:

  • 12 ounce tub
  • Exfoliates and moisturizes
  • Contains essential ceramides
  • Uses controlled-release technology
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Rich, creamy texture

Best Salicylic Acid Body Wash: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash with Salicylic Acid

Best Salicylic Acid Body Wash
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash with Salicylic Acid
Enjoy soft, smooth skin as well as a refreshing grapefruit scent with this body wash.

Are you looking for a body wash with salicylic acid that can help prevent breakouts? You’ll want to try our top pick in this category, which is Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash with Salicylic Acid. This is a pack of three 8.5-ounce bottles of body wash. It smells like fresh grapefruit and can treat and prevent acne breakouts on your back, chest, shoulders, and other areas of your body. The active ingredients include salicylic acid as well as vitamin C and grapefruit extract.

It lathers up nicely and unclogs your pores as it removes dead skin cells, sebum, and other pore-clogging impurities. It is non-drying and will leave your skin soft and smooth. You will want to rub it onto wet skin with a body puff or a washcloth, let it lather up well, then rinse it off with clear water. After your shower or bath, you can use acne pads or other topical medication to spot treat acne for the best results.

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash With Salicylic Acid Key Features:

  • Pack of three 8.5 ounce bottles
  • Smells like grapefruit
  • Contains vitamin C and grapefruit extract
  • Rich, creamy lather
  • Can be used with other acne spot-treatments
  • Non-drying

Who Should Buy Salicylic Acid Products

Many people struggle with acne, clogged pores, blackheads, fine wrinkles, and other skin imperfections. If you are in this situation, buying a salicylic acid product can help your skin look and feel its best. Salicylic acid smooths out rough skin, helps clear up acne, and can even prevent future acne from forming. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, look for a product that is hypoallergenic. Also, you might want to talk to your dermatologist or family physician about which product might be best for you and your specific skin condition.

Best Salicylic Acid Product Overall
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Smooth out rough and bumpy facial skin with this facial wash.

Important Features to Consider

When looking at salicylic acid products, there are some things you might want to keep in mind. Here are some of the features to consider when deciding which product to buy.

  • Ingredients. Salicylic acid products contain additional active and inactive ingredients, and you will want to be sure that you are not allergic or otherwise unable to use them.
  • Non-comedogenic. If you are using the product to control acne, look for one that does not clog pores.
  • Made for sensitive skin. Some salicylic acid products can cause some redness and irritation, so if you are prone to that type of reaction, consider looking for one that is made for sensitive skin.
  • Fragrance. Those with sensitive skin would probably do best with a fragrance-free product. If you don’t have sensitive skin, look for one with a fragrance you like.
  • Type. Do you prefer a cream or a peel? A facial wash or acne pads? Think about the type of product you want and then narrow down your options from there.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is salicylic acid and how does it work?

Salicylic acid is a type of hydroxy acid that can clear up acne, improve discoloration, relieve bumpy or rough skin, and reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles. It works by breaking up the attachment between the cells in the top layers of skin; in turn, it washes or wipes away dead skin cells, oils, and sebum that are clogging your pores. Products with salicylic acid often contain other ingredients that restore the skin’s natural barrier, add moisture, or perform other functions.

Is it okay to use salicylic acid every day?

In general, yes. If you have inflamed, irritated, or sensitive skin, however, using certain strong products every day can add more irritation and inflammation to your skin. Look for a product that is non-drying or made for sensitive skin if you are dealing with these issues. You can also ask your dermatologist to recommend a product that will be effective but also gentle. If a particular product seems to irritate your skin, you can cut back to every other day to see if that helps.

What are the benefits of salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid can clear out your pores, fight acne, improve the appearance of fine lines, reduce redness, and remove blackheads. Your skin will probably feel softer and smoother because it removes dead skin cells that have the tendency to build up and cause rough areas.

How long does salicylic acid take to work on acne?

You might notice that your skin feels smoother after just a couple of weeks of use, but you might not see a great improvement in acne or discoloration for four to six weeks of consistent use. If you have been using a product for six weeks and there’s little to no improvement, that is a sign that you might need a different type of product and you should contact a dermatologist for guidance. If you have blackheads, you might choose to try a blackhead remover vacuum; you can look at our list of the best ones here.

Other Salicylic Acid Products We Reviewed

Best Salicylic Acid Product Overall
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Smooth out rough and bumpy facial skin with this facial wash.

In addition to the ones listed above, we also reviewed an additional 20 baby bath tubs. They’re separated by category below so you can more easily make your decision.

Salicylic Acid Facial Washes

Bioré Witch Hazel Pore Clarifying Cleanser

Bioré Witch Hazel Pore Clarifying Cleanser

This cooling cleanser tones your skin while preventing acne with 2 percent salicylic acid. It also contains witch hazel, which can tighten up pores.

Key Features:

  • 6.77-ounce bottle
  • Helps reduce future acne
  • Breaks down dirt and oil

Cost: $6

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

This medicated gel cleanser can be used up to twice per day to remove impurities from skin and to treat and prevent acne, blackheads, and clogged pores.

Key Features:

  • 6.76-ounce tube
  • Fragrance-free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Cost: $15

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne and Redness Facial Cleanser

This is a great cleanser for sensitive skin, because it contains both aloe and chamomile, both of which calm redness, inflammation, and irritation.

Key Features:

  • 6-ounce bottle
  • Contains anti-inflammatory ingredients
  • Good for sensitive skin

Cost: $7

Neutrogena Acne Proofing Daily Facial Scrub with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena Acne Proofing Daily Facial Scrub with Salicylic Acid

This is a 4-ounce tube of facial scrub that exfoliates as it heals. It clears out your pores and will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Key Features:

  • 4-ounce tube
  • Leaves skin feeling smooth
  • Maximum strength

Cost: $8

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant

This is a travel-sized BHA and salicylic acid product that exfoliates, tones, and smooths skin. It will also improve and reduce small wrinkles.

Key Features:

  • 1-ounce bottle
  • Hydrates skin
  • Smooths fine lines

Cost: $10

St. Ives Acne Control Face Scrub

St. Ives Acne Control Face Scrub

Containing natural exfoliants, this facial scrub will heal and treat existing blemishes while also preventing new ones. Made with sweet-smelling apricots.

Key Features:

  • Two 6-ounce tubes
  • Natural apricot exfoliant
  • Does not clog pores

Cost: $8

Salicylic Acid Acne Pads

Glycolic/Salicylic Acid 10/2 Acne Control Pads

Glycolic/Salicylic Acid 10/2 Acne Control Pads

These pads contain both glycolic and salicylic acid. These work together to combat clogged pores, reduce the production of oil, and prevent acne.

Key Features:

  • 50 textured pads
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Soothes and protects the skin

Cost: $20

Neutralyze Exfoliating Pads

Neutralyze Exfoliating Pads

These maximum-strength cleansing and toning pads help rejuvenate your skin as they clear up acne blemishes and prevent further eruptions.

Key Features:

  • 100 exfoliating pads
  • For cystic acne, whiteheads, blackheads, and more
  • Soothes red, irritated skin

Cost: $20

OXY Acne Medication Cleansing Pads

OXY Acne Medication Cleansing Pads

These pads contain a salicylic acid formula that unclogs pores, clears up acne, and penetrates into the skin to stop problems where they start.

Key Features:

  • Three-pack of 90 pads
  • Maximum strength
  • Prevents further acne

Cost: $15

Replenix Acne Solutions Exfoliating Acne Pads

Replenix Acne Solutions Exfoliating Acne Pads

These glycolic and salicylic acid pads smooth out skin, unclog pores, and even out your skin’s texture. Use them on clean skin once per day.

Key Features:

  • 60 pads
  • Contains witch hazel
  • Cleans without overdrying

Cost: $20

Salicylic Acid Lotions and Creams

Aveeno Clear Complexion

Aveeno Clear Complexion

This is a daily moisturizer that is formulated for acne-prone skin. It will fight acne while keeping your skin soft and supple.

Key Features:

  • 4-ounce bottle
  • Includes a soy complex
  • For sensitive skin

Cost: $11

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

Your skin will feel and look great after using this exfoliating moisturizer. It is formulated to smooth out rough and bumpy skin.

Key Features:

  • 8-ounce bottle
  • Leaves skin soft and smooth
  • Includes essential ceramides

Cost: $15

Clean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Facial Moisturizer

Clean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Facial Moisturizer

This dual-action formula fights acne while leaving skin moisturized. Because it has no oil and is non-comedogenic, it is good for all skin types.

Key Features:

  • 4-ounce bottle
  • Good for all skin types
  • Recommended as part of a three-part routine

Cost: $15

Lilah James KP Exfoliating Lotion

Lilah James KP Exfoliating Lotion

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid combine to reduce skin redness and smooth out bumps. This lotion is perfect for someone with keratosis pilaris.

Key Features:

  • 8-ounce bottle
  • Fragrance-free
  • For keratosis pilaris

Cost: $20

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Facial Moisturizer

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Facial Moisturizer

This is a light moisturizer with a refreshing grapefruit scent. The salicylic acid helps to fight acne without leaving skin dry or tight.

Key Features:

  • 4-ounce bottle
  • Lightweight texture
  • Fights acne

Cost: $7

Perfect Image Exfoliating Body Lotion

Perfect Image Exfoliating Body Lotion

This body lotion contains ingredients like green tea, bearberry, papaya, and licorice to minimize the appearance of wrinkles and large pores.

Key Features:

  • 8-ounce bottle
  • Lightweight formula
  • Improves cell rejuvenation

Cost: $23

Urea Cream 40% Plus Salicylic Acid

Urea Cream 40% Plus Salicylic Acid

This is a heavy cream for thickened skin on parts of the body such as the elbows, hands, feet, and around the nails. It will soften and relieve cracked, dry, or itchy skin.

Key Features:

  • Two 4.6-ounce tubs
  • Relieves dry, itchy skin
  • Reduces callus buildup

Cost: $30

Salicylic Acid Peels

Perfect Image Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

Perfect Image Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

This peel is enhanced with tea tree oil and green tea extract to fight bacteria and free radicals, brightening your skin and fighting acne.

Key Features:

  • 1-ounce bottle
  • Contains tea tree oil and green tea extract
  • Controls acne-causing bacteria

Cost: $23

QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

This salicylic acid peel contains no alcohol, so if you have dry or sensitive skin, this might be the right product for you. This is a gel, not a liquid.

Key Features:

  • 1-ounce bottle
  • Reduced risk of irritation
  • Gel, not liquid

Cost: $20

Skin Beauty Solutions Salicylic Acid Peel 30%

Skin Beauty Solutions Salicylic Acid Peel 30%

This is a strong peel designed for people with acne, rosacea, seborrheic keratosis, and other skin conditions. Good for oily, sensitive skin.

Key Features:

  • 1-ounce bottle
  • Good for various skin conditions
  • Leaves skin soft and healthy

Cost: $18

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