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9 Salicylic Acid Moisturizers That Replenish *and* Treat Oily & Acne-Prone Skin

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

People with oily skin and acne, and I’m guilty of having done this before myself, tend to shy away from moisturizing fearing that it’ll make the skin more oily or even congested. And with a major focus on acne treatments, they tend to dry out and dehydrate the skin, which results in either flaky skin or worsened acne. Then you have this annoying cycle of more acne and more dryness. The good thing is you don’t need to choose between hydrated skin and clear skin. The best salicylic acid moisturizers both replenish your skin and help with acne. And because most salicylic acid moisturizers, creams, and lotions are formulated for people with acne, the majority of them are oil-free too. So you can safely hydrate without clogging your pores.

Salicylic acid (SA) is a beta hydroxy acid. And it is the most popular chemical exfoliant for oily and acne-prone skin. Because salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it has a better chance of penetrating into pores and unclogging them.

The benefits of salicylic acid include exfoliation, faster skin turnover, brighter skin tone, reduction and prevention of acne, and blackheads. And moisturizers made with salicylic acid allow you to benefit from this ingredient while keeping the skin hydrated and clear.

As I said, most salicylic acid creams are made for people with oily and acne-prone skin mind. And that really helps narrow things down. Because all of these moisturizers are non-comedogenic, meaning that they don’t clog your pores, and non-acnegenic, meaning that they don’t worsen acne.

For that reason, just keep your skin’s tolerance in mind when looking for a salicylic acid moisturizer. Start with a low-concentration formula if you’ve never used one before. Additionally, look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to mitigate potential dryness.

And if you’ve ever used an acne cleanser or a face wash before, chances are there’s a salicylic acid moisturizer by the same brand. Some of the most popular acne cleansers such as Neutrogena and CeraVe, also have a salicylic acid cream or serum in that same collection.

Even if you haven’t, no worries. Find below the best salicylic acid moisturizers out there.

The Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

1. Origins Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For All Skin Types

Origins Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid - Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

Pros: Balances oil, works for most skin types
Cons: Contains essential oils

This is hands down the best salicylic acid moisturizer that is perfect for oily and acne-prone skin types. Because the concentration is in mid-range, it’s neither drying nor ineffective, which makes it suitable for all skin types too. You get to hydrate your skin without clogging your pores. And you get to treat acne without needing separate treatment. The oil-free daily moisturizer is formulated with 1% salicylic acid to target congested skin, reduce inflammation, and fade acne. It also has bamboo charcoal in it, which balances the skin and reduces oiliness. It’s basically an exfoliating moisturizer that absorbs easily and feels weightless on the skin.

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer - Origins Clear Improvement
Image by Ejollify

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, charcoal, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, witch hazel
Formula: Oil-free, vegan, cruelty-free
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml

2. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Dry Skin

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer

Pros: Contains multiple exfoliants, hydrating base
Cons: Pricey

This oil-free moisturizer, in addition to salicylic acid, also contains alpha-hydroxy acids. So the multi-acid formula multi-tasks big time. Glycolic, lactic, and other alpha-hydroxy acids promote skin turnover and help with acne and texture irregularities. The cream replenishes the skin with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and squalane. And with improved moisture, the skin looks smoother and the pores look smaller. And in case you have dry skin, the barrier-protecting ceramides prevent potential dryness from salicylic acid. The vegan formula leaves the skin plump, and over time, clear.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid
Formula: Oil-free, cruelty-free, vegan
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml

3. Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer

Best Drugstore Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer - Best Drugstore Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

Pros: Budget-friendly, beginner-friendly
Cons: Contains alcohol

This tried and true drugstore moisturizer is formulated with 0.5% salicylic acid to tackle acne, congestion, pores, and blackheads. Again, it’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, and does not leave a greasy residue on the skin. Though it’s not fragrance-free, the scent is refreshing grapefruit, which feels nice. If you have very sensitive skin, you might want to scroll down for fragrance-free options. Other than that, pair this affordable moisturizer with a drugstore salicylic acid cleanser to get clear and smooth skin in no time.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, grapefruit extract
Formula: Oil-free
Size: 4 oz/118ml

4. CeraVe SA Lotion For Rough & Bumpy Skin

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Body

CeraVe SA Lotion For Rough & Bumpy Skin - Best Drugstore Salicylic Acid Moisturizers

Pros: Fragrance-free
Cons: Contains mineral oil

Flaky skin on your body or acne on your back or chest can be as difficult to manage as acne on your face. Besides using a salicylic acid body wash, you can try a salicylic acid body lotion to supercharge your body care routine. Additionally, if you’re dealing with keratosis pilaris, you can also try salicylic acid body creams to get rid of those dead skin cells and flakiness. This lightweight, fragrance-free body lotion exfoliates with salicylic and lactic acids. And it keeps the skin soft and moisturized with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, ceramides
Formula: Non-comedogenic
Size: 8 oz/237 ml

5. Murad Clarifying Water Gel

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Oily-Combination Skin

Murad Clarifying Water Gel - Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Pros: Non-drying, hydrating, anti-bacterial
Cons: SA concentration unknown

This cooling salicylic acid moisturizer is gel-based, so it’s also the ideal formula for summer weather. The feather-light texture disappears into the skin and infuses it with a blend of humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and several amino acids. It refines the skin texture with salicylic acid and soothes it with anti-inflammatory ginger root extract. It helps target blemishes, dullness, textured skin, and hyperpigmentation without aggravating acne. Murad renamed this product and dropped the term ‘oil-free’ with the new version. It’s exactly the same product so I don’t know why they did that. But either way, the moisturizer is still jam-packed with different amino acids. These are amazing for keeping the skin hydrated. And that’s handy for oily and combination skin types that need hydration without clogging pores to achieve a balanced complexion.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, witch hazel, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide
Formula: Oil-free
Size: 2 oz/60 ml

6. Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Large Pores

Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer - Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Pros: Contains lipo-hydroxy acid
Cons: SA concentration unknown, contains fragrance

In case you don’t know, salicylic acid has a derivative called lipo-hydroxy acid. Just like salicylic acid, it also has exfoliation properties. More importantly, it’s usually paired with salicylic acid to enhance exfoliation. This moisturizer is made with both! So if you have oily skin or combination skin and you’re majorly dealing with excess oil, blackheads, and clogged pores, this can help. Even though it’s oil-free, it’s a bit thicker than most of the other moisturizers here. So it does keep the skin hydrated for longer and mitigates dryness. It also has green tea to calm inflammation and kelp to balance oil production.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, lipo-hydroxy acid, green tea, kelp
Formula: Oil-free, vegan, cruelty-free
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml

7. Lancome Hydra Zen Gel-Cream Oil-Free Moisturizer With Salicylic Acid

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Aging Skin

Lancome Hydra Zen Gel-Cream Oil-Free Moisturizer With Salicylic Acid

Pros: Antioxidant-rich, gentle
Cons: SA concentration unknown, contains fragrance

Let me just say that every single product in Lancome’s Hydra Zen line is simply amazing. In fact, their liquid moisturizer is my current daily moisturizer. If you’re like me and dealing with signs of aging as well as adult acne and enlarged pores, this is for you. It works very gently in the background to smooth out the skin texture with salicylic acid and sheds off the dead skin layer and clears up pores. So you don’t deal with visible irritation or redness. In fact, it packs Centella Asiatica extract for its soothing and anti-aging benefits. It also has peony root extract and rose extract to care for the skin. The oil-free gel moisturizer is great for hydrating oily and dehydrated skin without clogging pores.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, Centella Asiatica, peony root extract, moringa seed extract
Formula: Oil-free
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml

8. Vichy Normaderm PhytoAction Acne Control Daily Face Moisturizer

Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer For Stubborn Acne

Vichy Normaderm PhytoAction Acne Control Daily Face Moisturizer

Pros: Higher concentration salicylic acid, silicone-free
Cons: Contains fragrance

This is another moisturizer that has an acne cleanser in the same line. This French exfoliating moisturizer is packed with 2% salicylic acid. The active ingredient is formulated into an oil-free, hydrating base made with hyaluronic acid and skin-brightening vitamin C. The lotion texture disappears into the skin and the oil-free formula is perfect for clearing up skin, reducing the visibility of pores, and stopping stubborn acne in its tracks. Because of the high concentration of salicylic acid, the moisturizer is really effective in getting rid of blackheads.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C
Formula: Oil-free
Size: 1.69 oz/50 ml

9. Herbivore Botanicals Aquarius Pore Purifying Clarity Cream

Best Natural Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Herbivore Botanicals Aquarius Pore Purifying Clarity Cream - Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Pros: Silicone-free, clean
Cons: Results take time to show

Salicylic acid is commonly derived from the bark of willow trees. But sometimes, instead of salicylic acid, we see willow bark extract in the product. That’s basically a natural source of salicylic acid and that’s when salicylic acid has more anti-inflammatory benefits. This means it’s more helpful in reducing redness and acne-related inflammation on the skin. That’s why this natural salicylic acid moisturizer is so gentle. It also has anti-bacterial zinc to help with acne and a blend of soothers like green tea, and turmeric extract to calm the skin. It replenishes the skin with hyaluronic acid and squalane but does not leave it feeling greasy. It’s not oil-free but it’s non-comedogenic.

Key Ingredients: Willow bark extract, blue tansy oil, zinc PCA, green tea
Formula: Non-comedogenic, natural, vegan, cruelty-free
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml

This concludes our round-up of the best moisturizers made with salicylic acid. And here’s your reminder to wear sunscreen daily as exfoliants can cause sun sensitivity.

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Read Next: The Best Anti-Aging Products For Oily Skin

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