Review of 5 Best Salicylic Acid Face Washes & Cleansers

Pimples, acne, wrinkles … are not the reality of one’s skin.

These are micro accidents that happen to one’s skin and if one takes due care of them, once can reverse the impact.

Salicylic acid has been praised by so many people I met – because of its ability to detox the clogged pores, remove dirt and bacteria from top of the skin and cure pimples, acne, and wrinkles.

I’ve been using salicylic acid facewash from time to time and there are 5 best salicylic acid facewashes that I’d like to suggest to anyone.

Top Salicylic Acid Facewashes – Best Picks


CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Would you like to buy a salicylic acid face wash that has got 600+ positive ratings? I know that I would because other people like me trusted this non-drying, non-irritating and blackheads-proof facewash.

Best Budget

Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Cleaner

In case you’re on the lookout for a best salicylic acid face wash and cleaner that can do the job and that too without costing more than one digit, Phisoderm gel cleaner is all that you need. It is the most affordable cleaner on this list.

Best Medicated

La Roche-Posay Effaclar

In case you want to trust only a trusted medicated gel cleanser and facewash, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar is the cream for you. So far it has got 430+ positive ratings and it is considered best for acne.

Which one is the best salicylic acid face wash? (Full Review)

And now without any further delay, let us review each of the 5 products that I picked from Amazon.

1. CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe’s Renewing SA Cleanser, like all other facewashes and cleaners on this list, is just not all about salicylic acid, but it is one of its key ingredients. Its main job is to cleanse and smooth the skin – while at the same time agents like salicylic acid and other antioxidants take care of whatever ails your skin e.g. acne.


  • Cleansing and Smoothing the Skin – The best part about CeraVe is the way how it approaches your skin and how it resolves the problem of pimples and acne, etc. It cleanses and smooths your skin – removes dirt, oil and any other outer stimuli, while its acids take care of the acne and pimples problems.
  • Antioxidation – Once your skin is smooth and clean, the process of antioxidation takes place. The little amount of salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin D shed the old and dead skin cells and penetrate deep into your skin to fight skin problems.
  • Essential Creamides – Creamides are lipid molecules that can be found in the upper layer of the skin. Now let’s not start off with Chemistry 101 and make it simple; these creamides bring the skin cells together, prevent the skin from deterioration and retain moisture. Essential creamides 1, 3 and 6-11 in this cleanser make up for a skin that lacks these creamides and thus suffering from deterioration and lack of moisture, etc.
  • Microbeads Free – Synthetic ingredients in such lotions, creams and cleansers can be either good or bad, but almost all of them have microbeads. These very small, but solid plastic particles create friction and eventually damage your skin. Rest assured that you’d not end up with irritation, and you will enjoy an organic and environment-friendly solution.
  • Blackheads-Proof – This part, the ‘non-comedogenic’ claim that you read on the container of this cleanser, is about a particular fear. To understand it well, we need to understand what is comedogenic. Comedogenic is a process in which a substance penetrates the skin, blocks the pores and causes blackheads; ironically, most of the times this happens when you apply a skin-care product. Well, this is one is a non-comedogenic one. These features make it the best salicylic acid face wash.


  • Smart Approach to Acne Removal
  • Completely Safe
  • Non-Drying
  • Gentle with All the Acids


  • Too Oily for Some People
  • Scent Can be Improved
best salicylic acid face wash
Best salicylic acid face wash I Pic: Amazon


Bottomline – CeraVe does not claim that this cleanser is 100% organic, but they tried to make something that is mostly organic and friendly to human skin. In doing so, they made something that is oily and one with no artificial scent. However, the best part is it is non-comedogenic and the way this cleanser approaches the skin.

2. La Roche-Posay Effaclar

What if you don’t want just any face wash or cleanser with salicylic acid, but only a medicated one?

What is a medicated facewash or cleanser? It is the one made with the intention to medicate the victim of acne or pimples – with it being a cure made exactly for such conditions.

Such a cleanser or lotion does not only have salicylic acid but acne medication agents as well. This is why end-users prefer this kind of cleanser and face washes.


  • Tested & Approved by 90,000 Dermatologists – So the La Roche-Posay guys do not only claim, but they show how dermatologists approve this product. 90,000 dermatologists worldwide checked the product, tested it and then approved it. Even if this is an exaggeration, their #beclearbootcamp and 2017 and 2018 surveys among dermatologists prove the product worthy of testing.
  • 0% Salicylic Acid Totally Harmless – The amount of salicylic acid in the cleanser is only 2.0%. While some might question this low quantity of salicylic acid, the reason behind keeping it this low is to maximize its positive impact and avoid the negative impact on sensitive skins.
  • Lipo Hydroxy Acid – Apart from the salicylic acid, another important component of Effaclar’s formula is Lipo Hydroxy acid. There are many skin-related benefits of this acid and all of them matter to people with skin problems. For example, it exfoliates the skin – removes the dead skin and brings forth the fresh and lively one. It helps in the treatment of acne and renews the skin if it is curable.
  • Oil-Free – We are interesting people – some of us hat oily contents and dry and dead skin altogether. For such people, this is one of the best oil-free facewashes. While it rejuvenates your skin and cures dryness, it does not make it oily as many other products do.
  • Fragrance-Free – It is not a 100% organic product, but this is mainly and mostly made of organic ingredients. This is the reason why it does not have an artificial fragrance. Those people who are allergic to artificial fragrances wouldn’t have any such issues with this facewash.
  • Paraben-Free – Adding to the point, it is important to mention here that it is a paraben-free product. This is why I said that it is mostly and mainly an organic product. Parabens are the chemical agents used to a cosmetic or pharmaceutical product. They are known for a wide range of side-effects such as skin irritation, allergies and serious types of skin inflammations. Not having them in your skincare product is a big relief.
  • Menthol – A smart thing that they did to this cleanser is adding a small amount of menthol to the formula. Menthol is used for its cooling effect – and in case your skin is already subject to inflammation or irritation, this substance will cool it down.


  • Mostly Organic
  • No Preservatives
  • Menthol for Cooling Effect
  • Salicylic and Lipo Hydroxy Acids


  • Oil-Free, But Dry
  • Takes Long Time and Big Quantity
best salicylic acid face wash
the best salicylic acid face wash I Pic: Amazon


Bottomline – Considering the cons, the only real one is that the cleanser is a tad bit dry. Well, you cannot have an oil-proof cleanser that is not dry. Overall, I like this cleanser because of the attention to details. Lipo Hydroxy acid is a good addition to the formula.

3. AcneFree Fruit Enzyme Toner

AcneFree is a big brand when it comes to face washes and cleansers made for acne, pimples and other skin problems. It is also based on many natural extracts including salicylic acid. In this formula the amount of salicylic acid is even lower when compared with Effaclar; this is because they wanted to keep sensitive skin types in mind while suggesting a cure to skin problems.


  • Specially Made for Sensitive Skins – So, the best thing about this acne cure is that it is made for sensitive skin. It is a common observation that the skin types that mostly suffer from acne and pimples are the sensitive skins and applying a chemical-heavy solution to such skin can be a complete disaster. To keep this solution safe for sensitive skins, they reduced the quantity of salicylic acid to 1.5%. So this perfect ration SA in this formulation makes it the best salicylic acid face wash.
  • Clears Breakouts in 1–3 Days – The process of exfoliation or clearing the dead and dry acne breakouts, is the most crucial process for any cleanser or face wash made for this purpose. Gentle exfoliants in this formula expedite the whole process and you get rid of those acne marks within 1 to 3 days.
  • Revitalizing and Balancing Formula – The formula of each cleanser made to fight acne and pimples is different. This one is focused on two important acts – a) it revitalizes your skin with moderate use of salicylic acid and b) it presents a perfect balance of natural and synthetic extracts. It is alcohol-free and it is based on fruit enzymes.
  • Gentle Moisturizer – In terms of the recipe, it is quite similar to CeraVe cleanser. While fruit enzymes smooth your skin, clean the pores, lighten up the complexion and moisturize the skin – so as to prepare it for exfoliation and cure, the small amount of salicylic acid and other contents do the job in a gentle way.
  • Natural Extracts – This cleanser is made of many natural extracts. They give this formula its balance and a gentle touch. The extracts include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, fruit enzymes, ginger, and tea tree. Their job is to moisturize and vitalize the skin. Overall this is the best salicylic acid face wash in this range.


  • Natural Extracts
  • Balanced Approach
  • Quick Acne Removal
  • Good for Sensitive Skins


  • Bigger Quantity of Salicylic Could be Better
  • Slow Process
best salicylic acid face wash
The best salicylic acid face wash I Pic: Amazon


Bottomline – The problem is that when you reduce the amount of salicylic acid, not only the acne removal takes more time but you have to apply a bigger quantity of the solution to get the required results. However, gentle healing is better than ending up with a flared and irritated skin.

4. Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Gel Cleanser

This cleaner gel has just a perfect quantity of salicylic acid to make the process of exfoliation smoother and faster when compared with other salicylic acid facewashes and cleansers.

It is almost organic formula – in as much, it does not rely on soap or alcohol or other such chemical elements.

However, you would also love to buy this one because it is the cheapest/most affordable and best salicylic acid face wash on this list.


  • 2% Salicylic Acid for Gentle Exfoliation – They use the same amount of salicylic acid as in the case of CeraVe and one or two other high-quality salicylic acid facewashes. It has been noted that any quantity of salicylic acid less than 2% proves to be insufficient. With 2% salicylic acid, while the exfoliation is perfect and speedy, there is still no damage to sensitive skin.
  • Clears Acne Breakouts Smoothly – When it comes to clearing acne breakouts, the biggest problem is that before you remove them, you need to prepare the skin for the relatively harsh process. The moisturizing solution of this cleanser helps you get rid of acne in a smooth way.
  • Soap, Alcohol and Dye Free – Soap, alcohol, and dye are used for many different purposes in cosmetics and relevant businesses. However, these artificial substances always have a toll on one’s skin. The side effects can be an allergy, rash skin, irritation, inflammation, and blisters, etc. Thankfully, this cleanser is free of all these agents.
  • Oil-Free – For oily skin types, it is a big problem if a cleanser or cosmetics item contains oil. Dermatologists specifically ask people with oily skin to avoid oil-based solutions. This one is oil-free and thus a person with oily skin can use this cleanser gel without any fear,
  • Anti-Blemish – Last, but not the least, this cleansing gel is anti-blemish as well. It is not like substandard anti-acne solutions that create skin problems. Not only it tackles your acne and pimples with a gentle touch, but it also does not leave any mark on your skin.


  • 2% Salicylic Acid
  • Anti-Blemish Gel
  • Smooth and Gentle Treatment
  • Best Budget Salicylic acid Facewash
  • Best face wash with salicylic acid


  • Not for Minute Breakouts
  • Not 100% Oil-Proof
best salicylic acid face wash
Best salicylic acid face wash I Pic credit: Amazon


Bottomline – The problem is that skin breakouts and acne are two relevant conditions, but not the same. While this gel works like a magic on severe acne, it does not have the same effect on minute breakouts. Apart from this minor limitation, this is an ideal salicylic acid gel with a very affordable price tag.

5. VICHY Laboratories Normaderm

Normaderm from VICHY Laboratories is a deep cleansing gel cleanser based on salicylic acid and other important contents. It received a very warm welcome on Amazon – with an Amazon’s Choice tag. The secret behind this big success is its balanced formula. This is also one of the best face wash with salicylic acid.


  • Paraben, Soap & Alcohol-Free – This is yet another semi-organic formula. I said semi-organic because we now live in a highly synthetic world and nothing is 100% organic. Suffice it to say that this gel does not have preservatives, soap or alcohol – in other words, that substances that actually cause skin issues instead of curing them.
  • Suitable for Sensitive Skin – This gel cleanser is based on a formula that relies less on salicylic acid and more on a mix of many other ingredients. You would be amazed to know that the percentage of salicylic acid in this cleanser is lowest than any other cleanser on this list; it is only 0.5%.
  • Tested and Proven – VICHY Laboratories has tested this product for 4 weeks and on 76 women volunteers. The results of the tests proved the efficiency of the formula; 90% of women noticed visibly healthier skin and 71% of them noticed refined skin texture.
  • Balanced Formula – When I say that apparently this gel cleanser is based on a balanced formula, I have reasons to say so. Part of it is water and a long list of chemical compounds and natural extracts the list of which you can see on the Amazon listing of this product. All those contents make it a smooth exfoliation formula.


  • Tested & Proven
  • Balanced Formula
  • Best salicylic acid face wash
  • Free of Harmful Contents
  • Minimum Quantity of Salicylic Acid


  • Very Slow Process
  • Dries the Skin
Best Salicylic acid Facewashes
best salicylic acid face wash I Pic: Amazon


Bottomline – The problem with salicylic acid is that if you increase its percentage in a face cleanser formula, you expedite the speed of exfoliation, but in doing so you may also cause harm to the skin. And if you try to save the skin, by reducing the quantity of salicylic, you keep the things gentle, but due to a small quantity of the acid, exfoliation is very long. 0.5% is not a good quantity as per my opinion.


So, which one is the best salicylic acid face wash to my knowledge and which I recommend?

Here is the verdict:

  • AcneFree Fruit Enzyme Toner because it has the perfect ratio of salicylic acid, many natural extracts like fruit enzymes and it rejuvenates your skin. For me, this is one of the best cleansers with salicylic acid.

You can buy this product if you agree and totally fine if you do not agree – in which case you can consider one of the remaining 4 best salicylic acid facewashes.


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