7 Best Salicylic Acid Toners to Purge Acne For Good (2021 ✅)

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Find the best salicylic acid toner for your skin type, skin condition, and budget! Overall, my top recommendation is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution.

Toners and acne-prone skin have long been considered a match made in heaven.

Meanwhile, salicylic acid is the glue that ties them together as it treats existing acne and prevents future breakouts (source: Healthline).

In this post, we will present the best salicylic acid toners, and hopefully, you can find the one that is perfect for you.

RELATED:

What Is The Best Salicylic Acid Toner?

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Editor's Choice: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
  2. Cult Favorite: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
  3. 100% Natural Salicylic Acid: Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Toner
  4. Dermatologist Approved: Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy
  5. Best for Blackheads & Breakouts: CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
  6. Best for Blemishes & Clogged Pores: Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum
  7. Best for Oily Skin and Excess Shine: Jack Black Oil-Control Toner
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
1
EDITOR'S CHOICE

La Roche-Posay 
Effaclar Clarifying Solution

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Best For:

✅ Acne
✅ Blemishes
✅ Breakouts
✅ Clogged Pores
✅ Congested Skin

Key Ingredients:

⭐ 0.5% Salicylic Acid
⭐ 2% Glycolic Acid
⭐ Japanese Lily Extract
⭐ Golden Herb Extract

Key Features:

👍 Oil-Free
👍 Non-Comedogenic
👍 Paraben-Free
👍 Fragrance-Free
👍 Suitable for Sensitive Skin
👍 2,500+ Reviews!

Did somebody say La Roche-Posay?

Hear it loud and clear: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution is the toner you want if you’re looking for something that works from the inside out.

It contains 0.5% Salicylic Acid, which helps reduce sebum levels within the pores, and 2% Glycolic Acid, which works by exfoliating the outer layers of skin.

Talk about double acne-busting trouble!

But what makes it really great is that the low percentage of salicylic acid makes it well-suited for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

They even added in Ophiopogon Japonicus (Lily) Extract, high in saccharides that hydrate the skin and promote moisture retention, and Scutellaria Baicalensis Root (Golden Herb) Extract, considered to be antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory (Source: ScienceDirect).

However, you may want to note that alcohol denatured is also on its ingredient list.

Some dermatologists warn that it can cause breakouts and redness, while others say it’s good at removing oils from skin (Source: Byrdie).

So it boils down to whether this is something that your skin can tolerate or not.

For the most part, with over 2,500 positive reviews attesting to how well the formulation keeps the skin clear without causing dryness, it looks like there is little to be concerned about.

Our Verdict: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution is the solution to your skincare woes, with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, Japanese lily, and golden herb.

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Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
2
CULT FAVORITE

Paula's Choice 
Skin Perfecting 
2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

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Best For:

✅ Blemishes
✅ Breakouts
✅ Clogged Pores
✅ Enlarged Pores
✅ Uneven Skin Tone

Key Ingredients:

⭐ 2% Salicylic Acid
⭐ Green Tea Extract
⭐ Butylene Glycol

Key Features:

👍 43,000+ Reviews!
👍 Liquid Exfoliant
👍 pH 3.2-3.8
👍 Cruelty-Free
👍 Money Back Guarante

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant seems to be on everybody’s list, and for a good reason.

With 2% Salicylic Acid, this liquid exfoliant has the maximum strength allowed for over-the-counter BHA products. This makes it great for clearing closed comedones, blackheads, and acne.

It also contains moisturizing butylene glycol and soothing green tea extract, which offset the potential irritation caused by the higher concentration of salicylic acid.

These three are the bulk of ingredients, which makes the product appear plain. However, its strength is in its simplicity, as it does away with unnecessary frills and centers on what is truly needed to make it effective.

This is proven by the astounding 43,000 reviews on Amazon, with 90% of users giving it 4 - 5 stars.

Now, that’s impressive!

But if you’re keen on giving this a try, know that some users had to build up their tolerance to the product. They started with using it twice a week, to every other day, to daily.

Personally, I stuck with using it every other day, as I found that going beyond that can lead to over-exfoliation.

Our Verdict: With a minimal ingredient list but maximum efficacy, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant proves that salicylic acid, butylene glycol, and green tea extract can be all that you need for clearer skin.

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Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Toner
3
100% Natural

Caudalie Vinopure 
Purifying Toner

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Best For:

✅ Oily Skin
✅ Acne-Prone Skin
✅ Enlarged Pores
✅ Excess Shine

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Natural Salicylic Acid
⭐ Organic Grape Water
⭐ Organic Rose Water
⭐ Organic Essential Oils

Key Features:

👍 100% Natural Ingredients
👍 Grape Antioxidants
👍 Refreshing & Soothing

Going out au naturale isn’t easy, but taking the natural route may get you there.

Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Toner uses 100% natural salicylic acid, and 20% of its ingredient list is organic. This includes the Organic Grape Water that Caudalie is famous for, known for its hydrating and refreshing properties, and Organic Rose Water, which is excellent for anti-aging and reducing redness.

Sadly, it also contains Organic Essential Oils such as Citral, Citronella, Geraniol, Linalool, and Limonene, making it potentially irritating for sensitive skin.

While users have noted a mattifying effect, making it great as a first step for ladies who would want to apply make-up, others with dry skin have complained that this made their skin more dehydrated.

With these in mind, I would only recommend it for those with oily and combination skin.

But you have to keep an eye out if you want one because it frequently goes out of stock.

At $28 for 6.7 oz, this isn’t the most affordable option, so that speaks to how many people are willing to pay for it.

Our Verdict: If you’re looking for an acne toner that is natural and effective, Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Toner with its 100% natural salicylic acid, organic grape water, and organic rose water would be perfect for you.

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Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy
4
DERMATOLOGIST APPROVED

Obagi CLENZIderm 
M.D. Pore Therapy

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Best For:

✅ Acne
✅ Blackheads
✅ Whiteheads
✅ Clogged Pores

Key Ingredients:

⭐ 2% Salicylic Acid
⭐ Menthol

Key Features:

👍 Derm Approved
👍 Professional Quality
👍 1,100+ Reviews
👍 Very Highly Rated

Getting regular treatments at the dermatologist can be costly and time-consuming.

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy makes things easier for us (and our wallets), as it brings us derm-level care at home for a less-than-derm price of $40.50 for 5 oz!

It’s a tad more expensive than its counterparts, but the resounding consensus from users is that it’s well worth it.

This 2% salicylic acid toner clears away dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and removes acne-causing bacteria.

Glycerin then works to soothe irritation, reduce redness, and increase skin hydration. Meanwhile, the Chamomilla Recutita flower extract protects the skin from free radicals.

This trifecta successfully treats, prevents, and protects.

But while the simple ingredient list is reminiscent of Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant, you may want to note that Obagi’s toner contains fragrance and menthol.

This doesn’t seem to affect its performance though, with 84% of 1,120 reviews giving it 5-stars.

Our Verdict: Get derm-approved acne care from the comfort of your home with Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy, featuring salicylic acid, glycerin, and Chamomilla Recutita flower extract.

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CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
5
BEST FOR BLACKHEADS & BREAKOUTS

CosRX 
BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

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Best For:

✅ K-Beauty Lovers
✅ Soothing & Refreshing
✅ Acne-Prone Skin
✅ Blackheads
✅ Breakouts

Key Ingredients:

⭐ 64% White Willow Bark
⭐ 4% Betaine Salicylate

Key Features:

👍 Natural Salicylic Acid
👍 Suitable for Sensitive Skin
👍 Convenient Spray Pump

Glass skin is in, acne is out, and CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is what it’s all about!

This K-Beauty product has gained fans from all around the world, as it has two sources of Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA):

  • 64% White Willow Bark Water: a natural source of BHA with skin-soothing properties
  • 4% Betaine Salicylate: a combination of exfoliating Salicylic Acid and moisturizing Betaine.

Betaine Salicylate is twice as gentle as regular Salicylic Acid, which means that this 4% concentration is equivalent to 2% Salicylic Acid (Source: Incidecoder). The only difference is that it does not have the drying effect associated with the latter.

It even has niacinamide, great for treating hyperpigmentation and providing moisture; arginine, an amino acid with antioxidant properties; panthenol, which improves the moisture barrier; and sodium hyaluronate, also known as hyaluronic acid.

This mix of ingredients makes it great for sensitive skin and those starting out with chemical exfoliation.

Our Verdict: Skin clearing and non-irritating, CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid offers gentle exfoliation for all skin types. But if you want something even milder, you can consider the CosRX One Step Original Clear Pad, which also has White Willow Bark Water but with just 1% Betaine Salicylate.

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Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum
6
BEST FOR BLEMISHES & CLOGGED PORES

Bliss Clear Genius 
Clarifying Toner + Serum

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Best For:

✅ Blemishes
✅ Clogged Pores
✅ Redness
✅ Dry, Irritated Skin

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Salicylic Acid
⭐ Witch Hazel
⭐ Niacinamide
⭐ Zinc PCA
⭐ Centella Asiatica

Key Features:

👍 Soothes & Repairs
👍 Toner & Serum Duo
👍 Vegan & Cruelty-Free
👍 Super Affordable

A product you can use as a toner and a serum? Sign me up!

Double-duty without skimping on the quality, Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum is a bargain for 4.3 oz.

You save both time and money while obtaining clearer skin.

Its Clarity 5 complex is formulated to treat acne, remove excess sebum, and soothe skin. This includes:

  • Salicylic Acid: to keep pores clear
  • Witch Hazel: toning and refining
  • Niacinamide: diminishes pores and blemishes
  • Zinc PCA: oil control
  • Centella Asiatica: to calm the skin and relieve irritation

As if this wasn’t enough, they even added Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid) for moisturizing; Willow Bark Extract to increase cell turnover; and Tea Tree Oil to kill acne bacteria.

Unsurprisingly, it has over 1,200 reviews praising its formulation. However, there is less enthusiasm about its packaging, with several complaints about the pump malfunctioning or breaking. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it may be something you want to keep in mind.

Our Verdict: Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum is the multi-tasking product of your dreams, with Clarity 5 Complex plus hyaluronic acid, willow bark extract, and tea tree oil.

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Jack Black Oil-Control Toner
7
BEST FOR OILY SKIN & EXCESS SHINE

Jack Black 
Oil-Control Toner 

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Best For:

✅ Oily Skin
✅ Excess Shine
✅ Soothing Skin
✅ Mattifying Skin

Key Ingredients:

⭐ Salicylic Acid
⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Witch Hazel
⭐ Botanical Extracts
⭐ Red Macroalgae

Key Features:

👍 8 oz Value Size
👍 Loaded with Goodness!
👍 Excellent Value for Money

Never underestimate the power of the eyebrow… and the right salicylic acid toner.

Jack Black Oil-Control Toner (not associated with the Jack Black I just quoted above) is a balancing toner that controls excess oil while moisturizing the skin.

Salicylic Acid and Witch Hazel dissolve pore-clogging residue and promote oil control, while Lactic Acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, exfoliates the skin’s surface.

It features a good number of botanical extracts, namely:

  • Aloe Vera for moisturizing
  • Cucumber for soothing
  • Ginseng for anti-inflammation
  • Moringa for skin renewal
  • Vitamin A for increasing skin cell turnover
  • Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate for improving skin structure
  • Zinc PCA for acne control

But the most notable botanical ingredient is the Red Macroalgae Extract, which replenishes the skin barrier, reduces redness and blemishes, and brightens skin tone (source: NCBI).

With such a variety of ingredients, including some essential oils, one or more may cause your skin to react negatively. This is what happened to several reviewers, so I suggest you patch-test before applying it all over your face.

Our Verdict: A great mix of acids and botanicals, Jack Black Oil-Control Toner gives powerful pore cleansing at a reasonable price ($25 for 8 oz!)

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Best Salicylic Acid Toner
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