7 Best Salicylic Acid Cleansers for Pore-fect Skin (2021 ✅)

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Find the best glycolic acid cleanser for your skin type, skin condition, and budget! Overall, my top recommendation is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser.

Have you ever wished for a skincare product that can reduce acne, exfoliate the skin, and keep pores clear? Salicylic acid cleansers may just be the answer to your prayers (source: Healthline).

But with so many salicylic acid cleansers on the market, which one is right for you?

We have a few suggestions!

RELATED:

What Is The Best Salicylic Acid Cleanser?

Here are our top recommendations:

  1. Editor's Choice: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
  2. Best Drugstore Pick: Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel
  3. Best Professional Pick: IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Gel Cleanser
  4. Best Value for Money: Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
  5. Rave Reviews: Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser
  6. Best for Soothing Skin: Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser
  7. Best for Resurfacing Skin: Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser

1. Editor’s Choice: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

People say that la vie en rose is too idealistic, but nothing is impossible with French cult-classic La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser.

This top-tier cleanser contains not just one but two types of salicylic acid! It utilizes the classic 2% Salicylic Acid formulation and 0.05% Lipo-Hydroxy Acid (LHA), a derivative of salicylic acid.

What makes LHA special is that while it produces the same exfoliating and acne-treating effects of salicylic acid, it also has skin-renewing properties as it induces collagen and elastin production.

Zinc Gluconate is also added to the mix, as it is known to relieve redness and irritation and reduce excess sebum for acne-prone skin (source: Healthline).

With over 7,500+ reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon, this medicated gel cleanser continues to impress as an ingredient powerhouse that is exfoliating and calming.

However, while many reviewers say it's suitable for daily use, you may want to note that it contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) and menthol, which can be stripping for sensitive skin.

Our Verdict: For smooth and acne-free skin, embrace the joie de vivre with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, featuring salicylic acid, LHA, and zinc gluconate.

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2. Best Drugstore Pick: Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel

Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel

Cleanse all dirt and stress away with Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel, as it promises to remove 91% of dust and 94% of excess sebum from the first wash.

Vichy is famous for the infusion of Volcanic Water in their products, and this one is no exception. It is charged with essential minerals and antioxidants such as calcium and magnesium, but most notable is selenium, which is known for reducing inflammation and free radicals (source: NCBI).

Meanwhile, the 0.5% salicylic acid works to dissolve oil and unclog pores. It may not be as concentrated as 2% salicylic acid formulations, but it works well for sensitive skin. The inclusion of Copper Gluconate highlights this since copper helps stabilize skin proteins such as collagen and elastin.

You may observe that the product is quite similar to La Roche-Posay’s medicated cleanser, as this also contains Zinc Gluconate. However, there is one critical difference: Vichy’s facial cleanser contains no sulfates and no alcohol, making it a top choice for those in need of a gentler alternative.

Our Verdict: Marked as “Amazon’s Choice” in Facial Cleansers, the fusion of ingredients in Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Intensive Purifying Gel makes it a super-cleanser for sensitive skin - acne-busting, pore-refining, and anti-aging.

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3. Best Professional Pick: IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Gel Cleanser

IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Gel Cleanser

A spa-like experience at home? Yes, please!

IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Acid Cleanser is crafted by a spa-quality professional brand. Although this gel cleanser is considerably more expensive than our other picks at $5.50/oz or $33/177 ml, the quality ingredients more than make up for the price, including:

  • 2% Salicylic Acid: combats acne-causing bacteria and refines pores
  • Neem Leaf Extract: calms redness and inflammation
  • Arnica Montana Extract: enhances the appearance of skin by reducing flakiness and stimulating circulation
  • Horse Chestnut Extract: contains anti-inflammatory compounds that soothe, tone, soften, and hydrate the skin
  • Tea Tree Oil: anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal

But the highlight of the ingredient list is granactive ACNE complex, which contains a patented antimicrobial peptide that helps reduce acne symptoms.

It can be used on its own as a toner for maintenance, but its formulation with salicylic acid amps up its acne-busting activity (source: Prospector). This makes the cleanser work particularly well on stubborn acne, cystic acne, and breakouts.

Our Verdict: For consistently pore-fect skin in your images, look no further than IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell Salicylic Acid Cleanser, with its acne-busting ingredients such as salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and granactive ACNE complex.

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4. Best Value for Money: Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Get a break from breakouts with Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash.

It is such a bargain because it is not just meant for the face; it can also be used for the neck, chest, back, and anywhere else that you may have acne.

For only $2.80/oz or $28 for 10 oz, you can maximize the deep-cleansing power of salicylic acid combined with Lavender, Camellia Sinensis, Tea Tree, and five other botanicals.

Lavender kills bacteria, unclogging pores, and reducing inflammation, while Camellia Sinensis has anti-aging, hydrating, and acne-fighting properties. Then there is Tea Tree, which is a traditional favorite for treating acne and reducing inflammation.

However, I would advise that you tread carefully if you are sensitive to essential oils like I am.

No matter how refreshing the formulation seems, it may cause even more breakouts and clogging if you are not careful.

Our Verdict: If you don’t have particular skincare sensitivities and you’re looking to get the bang for your buck, Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash fits the bill with salicylic acid, eight different botanicals, and over 1,000 5-star ratings.

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5. Rave Reviews: Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser

Do you want a cleanser that works long after you’ve washed it off? Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser may be the one for you.

Formulated with 1.5% time-released salicylic acid, the product penetrates deeply into the pores and continues to work on the skin even after rinsing.

Add this to the triclosan, which helps control surface bacteria, and the green tea extract, which soothes the skin and provides anti-oxidants, and you have for yourself a powerhouse cleanser that is well worth the rave. It is well-reviewed and well-loved, with over 3,000 5-star reviews.

Still, you may want to note that a minority of reviewers mentioned that the product could cause clogging, drying, and flaking.

Although its ingredient list shows no parabens and sulfates, it does contain several fruits oils, which could have led to these reactions. So to be sure, remember to patch test and know your skin’s sensitivities before committing to a full-sized product.

Our Verdict: Calm your raging acne with the raved-about Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser, as it treats and soothes the skin with its time-released salicylic acid and green tea extract.

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6. Best for Soothing Skin: Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

Mario Badescu maintains its prowess as a household name with the Acne Facial Cleanser, designed to do exactly as its name implies.

Simple, straightforward, and effective, this gel cleanser complements salicylic acid with botanicals.

Thyme extract is known for its antibacterial properties, chamomile extract is anti-inflammatory, and aloe vera is soothing and healing.

This results in a *chef’s kiss* blend that is acne-fighting and calming. 

It is also infused with hyaluronic acid (HA), a hydrating powerhouse that moisturizes the skin, reduces fine lines, and improves skin elasticity. What makes HA so great is that it is known to work for any type of skin, and it generally does not trigger adverse reactions.

However, the previously mentioned botanicals are potential triggers, and do note that the ingredient list contains fragrance and alcohol. Several reviewers said they experienced drying and breakouts, while others stated that the product was unbelievably gentle and calming on their sensitive skin. So keep in mind that your mileage may vary.

Our Verdict: More a hit than a miss, Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser employs the power of salicylic acid, nature’s botanicals, and hyaluronic acid for healthy and balanced skin.

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7. Best for Resurfacing Skin: Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser

Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser

Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just scrub-a-dub-dub all your skincare woes away?

Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser does just that, without the abrasive physical exfoliants. Not only does this cleanser include 2% salicylic acid, which is a form of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA); it also has 5% glycolic acid, which is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA).

The salicylic acid goes deep into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum, while the glycolic acid works on resurfacing skin texture by increasing cell turnover. Research shows that when you use them together, you can expect to have clearer and fuller skin (source: Science Direct).

But before you go slathering this masterpiece all over your face, make sure that your skin has already developed a tolerance for chemical exfoliants. Too much too soon could lead to peeling, flaking, and burning.

If you’re just beginning to venture into skincare acids, you can start with the 2% salicylic, 2% glycolic version which was created for sensitive skin. They also released a 2% salicylic, 10% glycolic version for those with resistant skin.

All versions contain Replenix’s signature Green Tea Polyphenol Technology, so all the exfoliation is offset with its calming and soothing effects either way.

Our Verdict: For medical-grade exfoliation at drugstore price ($2.98/oz!), Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser more than proves its worth with a superior blend of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and green tea polyphenol technology.

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Best Salicylic Acid Cleanser
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