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Among all the hydroxy acids, salicylic acid is the go-to acid for people with oily and acne-prone skin. It’s one of the most effective skincare ingredients to deal with your skin’s excess oil, sudden breakouts, not-so-sudden breakouts, and blackheads. And the best drugstore salicylic acid cleansers offer an affordable way to get into the salicylic acid train without freaking your skin out.
Belonging to the beta-hydroxy acids family, salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant. Similar to the other hydroxy acids, it accelerates cell turnover and exfoliates the skin.
It removes any dirt, grime, and built-up dead skin cells sitting on the surface of the skin as well as inside the pores. By unclogging the pores, breaking down the sebum, and eliminating congestion, it treats and prevents acne. The fact that it’s an oil-soluble chemical makes it all the more oily-skin-friendly.
If you’re just starting out with this acid, drugstore salicylic acid face washes are the way to go. Because you don’t know how your skin will react to it.
That’s why it’s best to start out with a cleanser instead of a treatment. And a drugstore one to save some money! There’s no point in spending a ton on a high-end salicylic acid cleanser if you’re a first-timer.
Also, the percentage of salicylic acid in drugstore cleansers is pretty beginner-friendly. This lowers the chances of irritating your skin or causing inflammation.
So, you’re in the right place. Having said that, don’t rinse off right away. Let the acid sit for a few minutes and do its thing. Moving on!
The Best Drugstore Salicylic Acid Cleansers
Ahead are the best salicylic acid cleansers you can find at the drugstore.
Besides salicylic acid to break down the dirt that’s clogging your pores, this cleanser packs amazingly skin-friendly ingredients to actually help your skin’s health. Exfoliating acids can be drying and this one has hyaluronic acid to tackle that. It also has ceramides which are amazingly beneficial molecules to restore an impaired skin barrier.
Oily skin needs hydration just as much as dry skin, if not more. So, it’s essential to keep your protective skin barrier intact so that it holds on to moisture. The cleanser also has niacinamide for its oil-controlling benefits as well as gluconolactone, a PHA, for its gentle exfoliation and skin-plumping properties. You can’t go wrong with this one because it gives the most bang for your buck!
This drugstore cleanser has all you need for combatting acne: exfoliating salicylic acid in 2%, anti-bacterial grapefruit, and skin clearing vitamin C. All this helps to kill acne-causing bacteria, prevent the formation of new ones, and clear out scarring and uneven skin tone.
The super budget-friendly face wash is one of the best drugstore salicylic acid cleansers you can find to target acne-related pigmentation. Because vitamin C is gold when it comes to clearing out the skin and brightening it. If you have stubborn scars, try adding a vitamin C serum into your routine.
Related: The Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes
This gentle cleanser contains a beginner-friendly percentage of salicylic acid (0.5%) for a non-irritating exfoliating action. The mineral-rich cleanser doesn’t leave the skin tight and provides non-drying cleansing to remove makeup, excess oil, and dirt. Gel cleansers are one of the most hydrating types of cleansers.
Don’t assume that the product is working if your skin gets bone-dry. That shouldn’t be your end goal. It should be managing the oil, not completely drying the skin out. To avoid that, this drugstore salicylic acid cleanser is the one to go for. And it also packs zinc to help with excess oil.
This cleanser contains salicylic acid topped with willow bark extract, which is a natural source of salicylic acid. It addresses congestion, blackheads, and enlarged pores.
Because the vegan formula is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory with tea tree oil, witch hazel, and zinc PCA. The gel texture is non-comedogenic and is formulated with mineral-rich seawater and washes away acne-causing bacteria.
Whether it’s hormonal acne or teen breakouts, this has been a hit when it comes to clearing up skin with a hardworking facewash. It’s formulated with 2% salicylic acid as well as its gentle derivative, lipo-hydroxy acid, to amp up exfoliation. The targeted cleanser purifies the skin, keeps the oil in check, clears out pores, and reduces their visibility.
It’s important to have your cleanser not irritate your skin. Because irritation causes inflammation. And inflammation is one of the root causes of breakouts. This one is fragrance-free and paraben-free to avoid irritating your skin while washing the dirt away.
Cream formulas are not the first choice when you have oily skin. But they’re super nourishing and hydrating for the skin. And they’re exceptionally helpful when your skin is particularly dehydrated and easily irritated.
The gentle cream is made with 1.5% salicylic acid to reduce acne. And it’s enriched with rose water and blue tansy to soothe skin and avoid aggravating acne.
Related: The Best Salicylic Acid Serums
And speaking of cream cleansers, this is another one. But this one contains micro-beads to give you a sense of physical exfoliation as well. It’s not like a regular face scrub as the cream formula doesn’t allow it.
The cleanser also contains vitamins C and E as well as moisturizing provitamin B5. Leave the cleanser on for a couple of minutes to let the product dissolve oil and let your skin absorb the goodies.
This one is a super gentle cleanser made with naturally derived salicylic acid from willow bark. It has a lightweight creamy texture to it and doesn’t foam up. The best thing about this one is the combination of different exfoliants.
It has glycolic acid to enhance the exfoliation and get rid of surface dead skin cells. And it has lactic acid for its gentle resurfacing and hydration-boosting benefits. It also contains soothing aloe to control redness and inflammation as well.
Utilizing a 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid, this one is a gentle exfoliating cleanser. It’s oil-free and foams up nicely and is perfect for mattifying oily skin.
The cleanser sucks up excess oil and exfoliates the skin to clear up acne and pigmentation. The additional soybean protein makes sure your skin doesn’t feel tight and dry after cleansing.
Made with salicylic acid to dissolve any oils and dead skin cells inside the pores, the cleanser washes away the day’s dirt along with acne-causing bacteria. Calming aloe and chamomile are perfect for avoiding irritation while resurfacing the skin for a smoother complexion.
This concludes our round-up of the best drugstore salicylic acid cleansers. Whichever you decide to go with, make sure you clean your face regularly before it gets a chance to hoard up dirt. When you let the oil and the sweat settle down in your pores, you’re not only asking for acne but also enlarging your pores. Cleanse regularly!
Lastly, if your salicylic acid cleanser is too drying for your skin, consider using it every other day, switching to a heavier moisturizer, or trying a lower-concentration salicylic acid cleanser. Do not dehydrate your skin because the way your skin reacts to that is not pleasant; it produces more oil!