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The Best Salicylic Acid Toners To Manage Oiliness and Breakouts

Best Salicylic Acid Toners

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Oily skin is usually more tolerant than dry skin. So we’re able to try out exfoliant after exfoliant without thinking twice. We’re basically the guinea pigs of the beauty industry at this point. However, some of the stuff they’ve been coming up with are incredible! And salicylic acid is one of them. It comes in lotions, creams, serums, and pads. Now, salicylic acid toners offer the same benefits to deal with oily and acne-prone skin, only in a more practical way.

As the most popular member of the beta-hydroxy acids family, salicylic acid (SA) deserves your attention. This oil-soluble compound is one of the very few ingredients that are able to penetrate your skin. It’s an effective solution that’s able to get a reaction from your indifferent and resistant skin.

Salicylic acid is gold when dealing with problem skin. It cuts the dead skin cells loose and regulates the natural shedding cycle of the skin (1). It helps with all that is related to oily skin, if not more.

By exfoliating the skin, salicylic acid keeps your pores clean and keeps blemishes and blackheads at bay. Additionally, salicylic acid is anti-inflammatory (2). So it’s effective in calming down acne and inflammation fast!

And the good news is you can take advantage of this superhero at the convenience of a toner. Read on!

The Best Salicylic Acid Toners

If you haven’t been using this magic ingredient, below are the best salicylic acid toners on the market right now.

1. Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner - Best Salicylic Acid Toners

This toner has both salicylic acid and glycolic acid, which you might find more beneficial than a pure salicylic acid toner. Because glycolic acid is a water-soluble exfoliant. It works where salicylic acid can’t. Combining the two gives you exfoliation both on the surface level and the deeper level. SA gets rid of the dead skin cells sitting inside the pores as glycolic acid renews the top layer of the skin.

The non-comedogenic formula doesn’t dry out the skin thanks to lactic acid’s hydration-boosting abilities. The lightly-scented toner packs other anti-bacterial extracts like witch hazel and green tea to prevent the formation of breakouts as well. It leaves oily skin feeling just the way it’s supposed to feel; matte, a bit tingling, and super fresh.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid
Key Benefits: Decongests, exfoliates, minimizes acne
Size: 6.5 oz/193 ml
Good To Know: Scented, vegan, cruelty-free

2. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner - Best Salicylic Acid Toners

This one has naturally derived salicylic acid along with grape water, which is high in antioxidants. It also has essential oils like lavender and rosemary because of their anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits.

So, while treating and preventing breakouts, the toner actually nourishes the skin and controls redness as well. It gently exfoliates, balances the oil, and refines the look of pores. And it leaves your skin unmistakably bright instantly!

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, grape water
Key Benefits: Decongests, minimizes the appearance of pores, brightens
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
Good To Know: Scented, vegan, cruelty-free

3. Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment Toner

Tarte Knockout Tingle Treatment Toner - Best Saliylic Acid Toners For Acne

Some of you may know sulfur from its acne-drying properties. If you’re a fan of it, then you’ll love this one. This toner combines salicylic acid and sulfur to keep the oil in check. In doing so, the toner prevents the formation of acne and the clogging of pores.

Additionally, the toner contains lactic acid, the gentle exfoliant that also increases the skin’s natural moisturizing factors. The vegan product has niacinamide (vitamin B3) too to support the skin barrier, prevent dehydration, and reduce pores.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, sulfur, niacinamide
Key Benefits: Exfoliates, fades acne, refines pores
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, vegan

4. Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner

Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner

Besides our usual suspect, this toner contains mint, which is naturally high in salicylic acid. This double-action deeply cleanses the pores and leaves no room for the building up of dead skin cells and excess sebum. By keeping the pores clean, the toner helps with the appearance of pores in the long run.

Clean pores tend to shrink in size over time. Several essential oils kill acne-causing bacteria and remove any residual dirt on the skin. Additional skin soothers like yeast and aloe calm the skin and eliminate redness. The toner leaves the skin feeling energized and smelling fresh.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid
Key Benefits: Exfoliates, works like an astringent, reduces oil and acne
Size: 5 oz/150 ml
Good To Know: Scented, vegan

5. La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner

La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner - Best Drugstore Salicylic Acid Toner

Keeping it simple, the toner only contains salicylic acid (0.5%), glycolic acid, and thermal spring water to tackle oiliness, breakouts, enlarged pores, and black/whiteheads. These simple yet effective ingredients exfoliate the skin and clarify the skin tone.

This is an all-time drugstore favorite toner that is free of oils, parabens, and fragrances. This makes it suitable for oily skin that’s suffering from sensitivity as well. Plus, it is super affordable, so you don’t have to choose between budget and acne.

Quick Tip: If you don’t like the addition of glycolic acid, try La Roche Posay Effaclar Astringent Toner. It’s formulated to minimize excess oil on oily, sensitive skin. It’s made with a derivative of salicylic acid to reduce acne and the appearance of pores.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid
Key Benefits: Unclogs pores, reduces acne
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, oil-free

Related: The Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes

6. SkinCeuticals Conditioning Toner

SkinCeuticals Conditioning Toner

Yet another effective toner that combines salicylic acid and glycolic acid. The eucalyptus leaf in the product is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. This helps the toner eliminate any residual bacteria residing in the pores.

FYI, this deep cleansing action makes your skincare products work better. After using your face wash, apply the toner to sweep off any remaining makeup or dirt. The skin is completely clean and ready to better absorb your upcoming serums and moisturizers.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid
Key Benefits: Sweeps up remaining dirt, exfoliates, tightens pores
Size: 6.8 oz/200 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free

7. Youth To The People Mandelic Acid Superfood Unity Exfoliant

Youth To The People Mandelic Acid Superfood Unity Exfoliant

This one is a hydroxy-acid bundle toner that has all the goodies. In addition to 2% salicylic acid, it has 3% mandelic acid, which is the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acid there is. Plus, it has gluconolactone, a polyhydroxy acid, which works as a humectant.

That way, it hydrates the skin while providing surface-level exfoliation. This is one of the best salicylic acid toners you can use for sensitive, blemish-prone skin to minimize oil, calm down acne, and resurface the skin for a clearer, smoother complexion.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, mandelic acid, gluconolactone
Key Benefits: Clears up skin, minimizes oil, draws out blackheads
Size: 4 oz/118 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, cruelty-free, vegan

8. Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner

Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner

This one packs 2% salicylic acid as well as papaya enzymes. Enzymes work just like chemical exfoliants. They dissolve the bond between dead skin cells to shed them off. The toner also has moringa water, which reduces inflammation and redness and provides essential nutrients.

Additionally, peony extract is equally anti-inflammatory and provides antioxidant benefits. The salicylic acid toner wipes out the root cause of blemishes and clears up the skin. Calm, clean, and untroubled skin is less prone to breakouts and the production of excess oil.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, enzymes
Key Benefits: Calms acne and inflammation, cleans up clogged pores, removes flaky skin
Size: 4 oz/120 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, cruelty-free, vegan

9. Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3

This is a liquid salicylic acid toner. It’s minimal and sensitive-skin-friendly so much so that it’s the exfoliant I pair with retinol. Not in the same routine though!

It reduces the look of inflamed acne overnight, and exfoliates thoroughly, but never makes the skin dry. It simply hydrates with hyaluronic acid, keeps the oil in check with witch hazel, and doesn’t contain any fragrances.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, witch hazel
Key Benefits: Resurfaces skin without peeling or irritation, brightens
Size: 6.7 oz/200 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free

10. Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum

Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum

This one is a toner-serum. Because “toner” would be an understatement. First of all, it’s alcohol-free. So, no need to worry about dehydrating oily skin into producing more oil. Second of all, it’s non-toxic. And lastly, it’s super potent!

It’s packed with salicylic acid to unclog pores, witch hazel to tighten them, and zinc PCA to target acne. Plus, it has hyaluronic acid for hydrating and Centella Asiatica to reduce redness and inflammation. The price tag makes it even better!

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, Centella Asiatica, niacinamide
Key Benefits: Refines pores, calms acne and inflammation, fades hyperpigmentation
Size: 4.3 oz/130 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, cruelty-free, vegan

11. Pixi Beauty Clarity Tonic

Pixi Beauty Clarity Tonic

And lastly, you can try this multi-acid formula. So, it contains both alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to get a handle on oily and combination skin. The toner utilizes glycolic acid to wipe off dead skin cells on the surface. And it cleans out pores with salicylic acid to banish blackheads.

Plus, it hydrates with hyaluronic acid and soothes the skin with aloe while antioxidant-rich licorice extract brightens the complexion. Pixi knows its way around toners. And this one is a great salicylic acid toner to clear up your skin and get rid of dullness as well.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, licorice extract
Key Benefits: Smooths skin texture, brightens complexion, fades discolorations
Size: 3.4 oz/100 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free, cruelty-free

This completes our round-up of the best salicylic acid toners to balance your complexion, reduce oil, and prevent breakouts. Remember that salicylic acid can make your skin prone to sunburn. So always remember to wear SPF. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for, here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a salicylic acid toner.

How To Choose a Salicylic Acid Toner


The most important thing to look for in a salicylic acid toner is the concentration of the acid. If you’re a beginner, start with low-strength salicylic acid toners such as 0.5%. This way, your skin can get used to the ingredient and build tolerance.

Gentle Formula

Even though salicylic acid toners are amazing for people with oily and acne-prone skin, you still need to pay attention to the formula. Alcohol, for example, soaks up oil and leaves your complexion matte. However, it can be drying too. If you have sensitive skin, look for alcohol-free salicylic acid toners.

Other Ingredients

You can always get more out of your salicylic acid toner if you go for a rich formula. So go for salicylic acid toners that have other anti-acne, and anti-oil ingredients such as witch hazel, and green tea. This will make your toner more targeted toward skin concerns related to oily skin.

Other Exfoliants

Multi-acid formulations, meaning toners that contain salicylic acid as well as another acid such as glycolic, can make the product work double duty. Look for glycolic acid if you also want some anti-aging benefits. Look for lactic acid to increase moisture if you have dry, flaky skin.



  1. Arif T. (2015). Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology8, 455–461. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S84765
  2. Decker, A., & Graber, E. M. (2012). Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A ReviewThe Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology5(5), 32–40.

Read Next: The Best Salicylic Acid Serums

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