The 5 Best Salicylic Acid Peels for Clear & Acne-Free Skin (2021 ✅)

Written By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Last Updated: 
May 18, 2021
Affiliate Disclosure: I earn a small commission when you buy products via affiliate links on this website.

Discover the best salicylic acid peels, why it's your new best friend for fighting acne, and find the right one for your skin type, skin condition, and budget!
(Overall, my top recommendation is Perfect Image Salicylic 20% Gel Peel).

What Is A Salicylic Acid Peel?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that's oil-soluble and can penetrate oily skin to clean out excess oils and dead skin cells, thereby unclogging blocked pores.

This makes it your new best friend for fighting acne, breakouts, and blemishes, as well as helping reduce dark spots, post-acne marks, uneven tone, and imperfections.

Which Salicylic Acid Peel Is Right For You?

If you're looking to do a salicylic acid peel at home, I recommend starting with 15% or 20% and working your way up depending on your tolerance and skin's response.

For sensitive skin types, start with a lower 10% concentration to minimize side effects.

If you want a professional in-office treatment, the "gold standard" for acne treatment is a 30% salicylic acid peel (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).

In contrast, the highest level of salicylic acid permitted in over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products is only 2% (such as popular acne treatment pads like Stridex).

Now, let's find the best salicylic acid peel for your skin concern and budget!

What Is The Best Salicylic Acid Peel?

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Editor's Choice: Perfect Image Salicylic 20% Gel Peel
  2. Professional Quality: Platinum Skin Care Salicylic Peel 3/15/25%
  3. Best Value for Money: ASDM Beverly Hills Salicylic Acid Peel 10/20%
  4. Strongest Chemical Peel: Skin Beauty Solutions Salicylic Acid Skin Peel 30%
  5. Best for Breakouts: Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads 25%
  6. Best for Sensitive Skin: QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel
  7. Best for Professionals: Dermalure Salicylic Acid 30% Pro Size (8 oz)
Perfect Image Salicylic 20% Gel Peel
1
EDITOR'S CHOICE

Perfect Image 
Salicylic 20% Gel Peel

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Best For:

  • Acne / Pimples
  • Breakouts
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Clogged Pores
  • Congested / Oily Skin

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Green Tea
  • Cucumber
  • Chamomile
  • Comfrey

Key Features:

  • Spa-Quality
  • pH of 2.3-2.5
  • Made in USA

With over 1,300 reviews, Perfect Image is the one of the most popular salicylic acid peels on the market. 🏆

(my readers get 20% off at Perfect Image with DERM20)

This spa-quality chemical peel uses 20% salicylic acid, a safe but effective concentration for at home usage (dermatologists usually start with 30% salicylic acid), along with tea tree oil and botanical extracts.

As I mentioned earlier, salicylic acid is perfect for treating acne-prone skin as it penetrates deep into oily skin to dissolve the dead skin cells, excess sebum, and keratin (a.k.a. "pus") that are clogging your pores.

Meanwhile, tea tree oil has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that kill acne-causing bacteria while botanicals like green tea, chamomile, and comfrey extract keep your skin soothed and refreshed.

Repeat weekly for 6-8 treatments or until you achieve desired results. Make sure to neutralize after 1-5 minutes and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30+).

For best results, use with Salicylic Deep Gel Cleanser and Hydra-Repair Super Moisturizer.

NEW: you can now "mix and match" products in Perfect Image's Trial Plan ($29.95 per month) or build your own Custom Sample Kit ($29.95 for 7 samples) before buying the full size.

Perfect Image Coupon: My readers get 20% off with DERM20 and free shipping after $20! 👍

My Verdict: Perfect Image provides spa-quality chemical peels at very affordable prices. Get their bestselling Salicylic 20% Gel Peel to fight acne and enjoy a smoother, clearer complexion!

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Platinum Skin Care Salicylic Acid 15% Peel
2
PROFESSIONAL QUALITY

Platinum Skin Care 
Salicylic Peel 3-15-25 

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Best For:

  • Acne / Pimples
  • Breakouts
  • Clogged Pores
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Mild Sun Damage
  • Rough Skin Texture

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid

Key Features:

  • Professional Quality
  • "Cool-Action" Menthol
  • Buffered pH of 2.1

For a professional chemical peel, Platinum Skin Care has everything you need from pH certified chemical peels to essential accessories and even a VIP club membership that saves you 20% on all orders and $10 off shipping.   

(it's like Amazon Prime but for chemical peels 👍)

Platinum Skin Care sells 3 concentrations of salicylic acid:

  • 3% - only slightly stronger than over-the-counter 2% salicylic acid treatments, mainly used by pre-teens and teens to fight acne multiple times a week
  • 15% - the starting point for a weekly salicylic acid peel to clear blemishes and imperfections
  • 25% - a more advanced peel, only use this when 15% is no longer providing desired results

In addition, all versions include "Cool-Action" menthol to soothe stinging and reduce skin irritation.

Here's an excellent tutorial video by Platinum Skin Care's CEO:

I highly recommend reading the product page as well, as it's got a ton of useful information about salicylic acid peels and pre/post-peel instructions.

My Verdict: When it comes to chemical peels, don't leave your skin in the hands of any brand. Choose a professional one like Platinum Skin Care that's been in business for over 20 years with an entire selection of chemical peels, essential accessories, and great customer support.

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ASDM Beverly Hills 10% Salicylic Acid Peel
3
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

ASDM Beverly Hills 
Salicylic Acid Peel 10/20%

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Best For:

  • Savvy Shoppers
  • Bulk Buyers
  • Exfoliation Enthusiasts

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid

Key Features:

  • Amazing Prices!
  • 1 oz and 2 oz Sizes
  • Unbuffered pH

Are you tired of overpriced skincare products where you're paying for 80% hype and 20% ingredients? 🤔

If so, you'll love this amazingly affordable brand that sells chemical peels starting at $14ASDM Beverly Hills.

Now, when a price is "too good to be true", it usually is...

That's why I ordered a batch of their chemical peels (40/60% glycolic acid, 20% salicylic acid, 60% lactic acid) and after testing them, I'm very happy with the quality!

ASDM Beverly Hills offers 10% and 20% salicylic acid peels in 1 oz and 2 oz sizes (the 2 oz is the best deal).

A single bottle will definitely last many months, especially if you use peel pads to avoid wasting any product.

ASDM Beverly Hills Salicylic Acid Peel Ad

If you love to save money (who doesn't?) or do chemical peels at home on a regular basis, ASDM Beverly Hills is a fantastic place to stock up on low-cost peels.

You can put the savings into additional peels or try some of ASDM's bestselling products like 100% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum and Tepezcohuite Serum.

For best results, use Chemical Peel Prep Kit (a bit expensive, but it's got everything you need) and follow-up with Matrixyl 3000 Serum with Hyaluronic Acid or Tepezcohuite Moisturizer.

ASDM Beverly Hills Coupon: save an extra 10% with LIFE10 and get free shipping after $60.

My Verdict: Don't pay for the hype and expensive marketing of mainstream brands. Get chemical peels starting at $14 from ASDM Beverly Hills and keep more of your money! 🤗

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Skin Beauty Solutions Salicylic Acid Skin Peel 30%
4
STRONGEST CHEMICAL PEEL

Skin Beauty Solutions 
Salicylic Acid Skin Peel 30%

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Best For:

  • Severe Acne
  • Cystic Acne
  • Back Acne
  • Chest Acne
  • Acne Scars
  • Keratosis Pilaris

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid

Key Features:

  • Highest Concentration
  • Money Back Guarantee
  • Available in 1-16oz and 15mL roll-on stick

Still searching for the perfect chemical peel?

Skin Beauty Solutions might have the right one for you with a full line-up of salicylic peels from 10% to 30%, available in 1-16 oz and even 15mL roll-on sticks.

The 30% version is the most popular, with 1,300+ reviews, and the strongest salicylic acid peel on the market.

This powerful product can transform your skin, reduce the appearance of severe acne and hyperpigmentation, and revitalize your skin tone and complexion.

But if you're don't the desired results with this product, then it's time to consider a Jessner peel or TCA peel.

Interestingly, Skin Beauty Solutions is the only company to advertise a 60 day money-back guarantee, which gives you peace of mind in case you want a refund.

My Verdict: If you're searching for the strongest chemical peel, Skin Beauty Solutions has the answer with its bestselling 30% salicylic peel, available in 1-16oz sizes and 15mL roll-on stick.

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Perfect Image Tri-Clarity Peel Pads 25%
5
BEST FOR BREAKOUTS

Perfect Image 
Tri-Clarity Peel Pads 25%

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Best For:

  • Acne / Pimples
  • Breakouts
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Clogged Pores
  • Dark Spots
  • Post-Acne Marks

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Mandelic Acid
  • Azelaic Acid

Key Features:

  • Spa-Quality
  • 30 Peel Pads
  • pH of 2.5-3.0
 

Do you dread waking up to find yet another pimple?

I know how you feel. For many years, I struggled with cystic acne and it's why I started The Derm Detective to help readers like you "Solve Your Skin Mystery" 🕵️‍♂️.

As you may already know, exfoliation is the key to improving most skin conditions, and acne is no exception.

By removing dead skin cells, you open up clogged pores, dissolve keratin plugs, reduce excess sebum, and gradually fade pimples and cysts. 🤗

Tri-Clarity Peel Pads 35% is an outstanding option with a double dose of exfoliation from salicylic acid and mandelic acid, plus azelaic acid to brighten acne marks.

Salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid, is the "holy grail" of acne treatment with its ability to penetrate oily skin and unclog pores to release the build-up of dead skin cells, sebum, and keratin (a.k.a. "pus").

Meanwhile, mandelic acid gently resurfaces skin texture and helps increase cell turnover to promote a smoother and clearer complexion.

For best results, use with Salicylic Deep Gel Cleanser and Hydra-Repair Super Moisturizer.

Perfect Image Coupon: My readers get 20% off with DERM20 and free shipping after $20!

My Verdict: Add a weekly chemical peel (especially one with salicylic acid) to fight breakouts, blemishes, and congested skin, and you'll quickly see brighter, smoother, and clearer skin! 👍

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QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel
6
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

QRxLabs 
Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

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Best For:

  • Sensitive Skin

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Green Tea
  • Chamomile

Key Features:

  • Gel Consistency
  • Time-Released
  • Alcohol-Free

There's nothing worse than buying a skincare product only to find out that it irritates your precious skin.

Fortunately, QRxLabs has developed a unique formula with a time-released delivery system and no alcohol, making it more suitable for sensitive skin types.

Furthermore, all QRxLabs chemical peels have a gel consistency (rather than liquid) which makes it less likely to drip down your face into sensitive areas like your eyes or the corners of the mouth.

Tea tree oil, green tea, and chamomile are included as well to eliminate the P.acnes bacteria inside your clogged pores and reduce skin inflammation.

With over 700+ reviews, QRxLabs has helped thousands of customers improve their acne, fade dark spots, and smooth out rough skin texture.

QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel Ad

QRxLabs Coupon: When you shop directly at QRxLabs, save 10% on orders of 3+ items with COMBO3 and 15% on orders of 4+ items with COMBO4.

My Verdict: With 700+ reviews, QRxLabs Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel is perfect for sensitive skin and helps you combat blemishes and breakouts without irritating or drying out your skin. 👍

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Dermalure Salicylic Acid 30% Pro Size
7
BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS

Dermalure 
Salicylic Acid 30% Pro Size (8 oz)

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Best For:

  • Professionals
  • Savvy Shoppers
  • Bulk Buyers
  • Exfoliation Enthusiasts

Key Ingredients:

  • Salicylic Acid

Key Features:

  • 8 oz Value Size
  • pH of 1.8
  • Made in USA

Last but not least, if you're a skincare professional or you're what I like to call an exfoliation enthusiast, you'll get the best value with the Dermalure Pro Size (8 oz).

This is a simple "nofrills" chemical peel that will get the job done, whether it's keeping your skin in tip-top-shape or getting your friends and family into chemical peeling.

At the current price, Dermalure is under $10 per oz, which is the best value for your money, considering it's a 30% salicylic acid peel that you can further dilute to your desired concentration.

A word of caution: although it may be tempting to repeat a chemical peel more often, remember to give your skin the necessary time to recovery and rebuild its skin structures, like collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans.

My Verdict: Whether you're starting an at-home beauty salon or just want to have a year's worth of chemical peels on hand, Dermalure Salicylic Acid 30% Pro Size is the best solution.

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