The best salicylic acid cleansers for oily acne-prone skin

In general, cleansers have come a long way from drying out the bars of soap (shivering) and the stripping and lathering facial cleansers that we used to brush on ourselves when we were teenagers. And for oily and acne-prone skin in particular, it’s fair to say that the cleansers have gone even further. Thanks to excellent cosmetic chemists, the formulations are more effective than ever at removing dirt and excess sebum, plus they are much less irritating and do not strip the skin of the necessary oil, which is not no small task. The best cleansers for oily and acne-prone skin, however, contain salicylic acid as one of the main ingredients.

To find out exactly why the ingredient is so good for acne-prone skin, we spoke with top dermatologists who even let us in on their own favorite salicylic cleansers.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and is derived from willow bark. “Unlike alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are soluble in water, BHAs are soluble in oil, which allows them to enter the sebaceous glands of our skin to remove debris and dead skin cells. pore depths ”, Ife J Rodney, MD, of Eternal dermatology + aesthetics in Columbia, MD, told POPSUGAR. This deep penetration means that salicylic acid is a total powerhouse when it comes to exfoliating and reducing excess sebum and sebum production. “Besides being an exfoliant, it also acts as a comedolytic (reduces blemish formation) and anti-inflammatory ingredient,” Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD CEO of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD in Greater Boston, said. This makes it ideal for oily, acne prone skin.

Salicylic acid also works so well, in part, due to its larger molecule size. As we mentioned earlier, the ingredient penetrates deep into your skin, but because the molecule is larger, it is not as irritating as its fellow AHAs, which have a smaller molecule and can therefore penetrate even deeper. in your skin. All of this makes salicylic acid an ideal option if you have an oily complexion and need an exfoliating cleanser to remove dirt from your pores, but find that your skin can be sensitive as well. While this is a great option for many people, Kristina Semkova, MD, consulting dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, warned that “salicylic acid and aspirin belong to the same family, so the acid should not be used if you have a known allergy to aspirin.”

Who can use salicylic acid?

As mentioned earlier, salicylic acid is often the best for oily and acne-prone skin because “it’s oil soluble and dissolves pore content and reduces inflammation,” said Dr. Rodney. “In general, those with sensitive or dry skin should avoid salicylic acid as it can be irritating,” Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip said. Hiva Fassihi, MD, consulting dermatologist for La Roche-Posay, also noted that the ingredient is great for teens with breakouts, as well as being a good option for rashes on your body. “You can wash your back with salicylic acid or even your chest if you have slightly oily and spotty skin,” she says.

Why does salicylic acid work well in a cleanser?

When it comes to a cleanser, the size of the molecule, plus salicylic acid being oil soluble, means it works immediately to break down dirt and dead skin cells and clear congestion. . Dr Fassihi said the great thing about using the ingredient as a cleanser is that you can just use it when you feel your skin needs it. “I actually have two facial washes: I have a facial cleanser for my oily days, and I have facial washes for the less oily; it just depends on what my skin is doing,” she says. “I know both are good for my skin, but I would use whichever is right for me on this day for that particular part of my menstrual cycle.”

Dr Rodney recommended starting to use a salicylic acid cleanser once, perhaps twice a week, and then increasing gradually as your skin needs it, provided you don’t did not feel any irritation or reaction.

Dermatologist Recommended Salicylic Facial Cleansers

If you want to start using a salicylic face wash in your routine, look no further than these dermatologist-recommended product choices.


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