15 Best Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Cleansers To Reduce Acne

Manage acne flare-ups easily with gentle, hydrating, and fragrance-free formulas.

By Oyendrila Kanjilal, Certified Skin Care Coach
All products recommended on StyleCraze are independently selected by our editorial team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process here.

Acne breakouts are the worst! While there are creams and serums you can use to treat acne, have you considered using a salicylic acid cleanser? Stick around to check out some of the best oil-free salicylic acid cleansers that can do wonders for your acne flare-ups. These cleansers remove impurities and excess oil from your skin, reducing the probability of acne breakouts. Using them regularly may even prevent further flare-ups.

Scroll down to check our top oil-free salicylic acid cleansers to use on your skin. We’ve also explained how salicylic acid helps manage acne and what it can do for your skin. Continue reading to know more.

Our Top Picks
CHECK PRICE
Best For Sensitive Skin:La Roche-Posay Medicated Gel Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Gentle Cleansing:Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Fast Action:Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Exfoliating:Glytone Acne Clearing Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Non-Irritating :Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Allergy-Tested:Vichy Normaderm Intensive Purifying Gel
Price on Amazon
Best For Unclogging Pores:Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash
Price on Amazon
Best Non-Drying:The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Moisturizing:Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser
Price on Amazon
Best Skin Soothing:COSRX Calming Foam Cleanser
Price on Amazon

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble acid popularly used as a topical treatment for acne. The acid reduces the production of excess sebum that causes acne breakouts. The acid also penetrates your skin and peels the skin lipid film to hinder the growth of acne-causing bacteria (1).

Salicylic acid can offer a host of benefits. We will look at the same in the next section.

What Are The Benefits Of Salicylic Acid?

  • Salicylic acid, when applied topically, may also treat other skin issues like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis (1), (2).
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that salicylic acid may also be used to remove blackheads and whiteheads from your skin.
  • The acid may help soothe skin and reduce skin redness (3).
  • The acid may help reduce hyperpigmentation (1).

Now that we know the benefits of salicylic acid, let us check the top 15 oil-free salicylic acid cleansers available on the market.

15 Best Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Cleansers To Reduce Acne

1. Best For Sensitive Skin:La Roche-Posay Medicated Gel Cleanser

The La Roche-Posay Medicated Gel Cleanser has been developed by dermatologists. Its salicylic acid targets excess oil, pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. The cleanser has been clinically tested and found to reduce excess oil from your face by up to 47%. It leaves your face feeling less oily throughout the day. It also contains lipo hydroxy acid that helps remove debris and dirt from your face. The product is oil-free and fragrance-free. It is formulated without parabens and is suitable for sensitive skin. Click here to check out this YouTuber’s unbiased review.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Allergy-tested
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Suits sensitive skin

Cons

None

2. Best Gentle Cleansing:Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser

The Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser is formulated to gently clean your pores and remove the dirt and debris. It contains clinically proven microclear technology that boosts the delivery of acne medication. It helps clear up acne and blackheads from your face and may also prevent future breakouts. This cleanser’s oil-free formula doesn’t over-dry or irritate the skin. It is dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic. Here’s a personal review video to help you get a better understanding of the product.

Pros

  • Doesn’t over-dry the skin
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Boosts acne medication delivery

Cons

  • May cause allergic reactions in some

3. Best Fast Action:Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

The Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser is infused with natural charcoal that deep cleans facial skin pores and absorbs unwanted oils. Its 1% salicylic acid treats existing acne and helps prevent future breakouts. It claims to clear acne in two days. Its soothing formula helps remove blemishes and dirt. It is oil-free and dermatologist-tested. It is non-comedogenic, vegan, and cruelty-free. Click here to check out a detailed personal review of this product.

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Gentle formula
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Fast action

Cons

  • May cause allergic reactions in some

4. Best Exfoliating:Glytone Acne Clearing Cleanser

The Glytone Acne Clearing Cleanser is a daily cleanser formulated with 2% salicylic acid. The cleanser deeply cleans your face, gently exfoliates it, and unclogs the pores. It also keeps skin smoother and prevents blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads. The cleanser has a lightweight formula that controls oil production to prevent future acne breakouts. It is ideal for mild to moderate acneic skin. The cleanser is fragrance-free.

Pros

  • Exfoliates skin
  • Unclogs pores
  • Lightweight formula
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

None

5. Best Non-Irritating :Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser

The Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser is formulated with salicylic acid that helps dissolve pore-clogging impurities. It helps prevent acne breakouts, redness, uneven skin tone, and dullness. The cleanser gently removes dirt, makeup, and excess oil. It has a soothing gel texture that refreshes and calms the skin. The product is ideal for all skin types and ages. It is even ideal for sensitive skin. It is formulated without parabens and is fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and non-irritating.

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Ideal for all skin types
  • Non-irritating

Cons

None

6. Best Allergy-Tested:Vichy Normaderm Intensive Purifying Gel

The Vichy Normaderm Intensive Purifying Gel is formulated for oily and acne-prone skin. It helps remove dirt, excess oil, and impurities from your face. It is formulated with salicylic acid, zinc, and copper minerals. These ingredients help reduce acne blemishes and blackheads and also unclog pores. This cleanser is dermatologist- and allergy-tested. It is formulated without parabens, alcohols, sulfates, soap, and colorants. It is formulated with a light fragrance.

Pros

  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Allergy-tested
  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Soap-free
  • Colorant-free
  • Mild fragrance

Cons

None

7. Best For Unclogging Pores:Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash

The Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash helps eliminate acne and prevents future acne breakouts. The face wash contains 2% salicylic acid that helps in clearing up blemishes and removing dirt and oil from your pores. The face wash makes the skin feel clean and residue-free. The product also contains allantoin and pro vitamin B5 that help calm skin appearance and moisturize it.

Pros

  • Unclogs pores
  • Moisturizes skin

Cons

None

8. Best Non-Drying:The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser has a non-drying formula that removes makeup and dirt from your face. The cleanser reduces blackheads and acne breakouts. It also reduces blemishes and de-clogs your pores. It helps improve your skin tone and gives you clearer skin. It contains a zinc compound, which helps control excess oil, and allantoin, an anti-irritant that leaves the skin moisturized.

Pros

  • Non-drying formula
  • Improves skin tone
  • Moisturizes skin

Cons

None

9. Best Moisturizing:Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser

The Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser fights acne and soothes your skin. It also removes the pore-clogging oils from your face. It has an oil-free formula and is formulated with salicylic acid, aloe, and mint. The product is suitable for all skin types and is non-comedogenic.

Pros

  • Moisturizes skin
  • Suits all skin types
  • Non-comedogenic

Cons

None

10. Best Skin Soothing:COSRX Calming Foam Cleanser

The COSRX Calming Foam Cleanser is ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. It is effective in controlling sebum production and in soothing acne. It is ideal for all skin types. It is formulated with salicylic acid that removes dead skin cells. The cleanser also contains madecassic acid and asiaticoside that soothe irritated skin and keep skin clear. The cleanser is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested. It is cruelty-free and paraben-free too.

Pros

  • Cruelty-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Suits all skin types
  • Soothes irritated skin

Cons

None

11. Best Vegan:Kitava Facial Cleansing Gel

The Kitava Facial Cleansing Gel is formulated with salicylic acid, licorice root, green tea extract, and vitamin C. These ingredients help nourish your skin and actively treat and reduce acne breakouts. The cleansing gel also helps reduce whiteheads, blackheads, and clogged pores. Its tea tree oil reduces the appearance of breakouts and blemishes. It is designed for all skin types. The face wash is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Suits all skin types
  • Moisturizes skin

Cons

None

12. Best For Clear Skin:Azarvi Exfoliating Cleanser

The Azarvi Exfoliating Cleanser thoroughly removes impurities to give a clear and smooth skin. The cleanser is formulated with glycolic acid that removes oil and dead skin cells. Its salicylic acid fights acne by unclogging the pores. It also contains tea tree oil and green tea that help prevent blemishes and acne.

Pros

  • Smoothens skin
  • Non-irritating
  • Non-drying

Cons

None

13. Best For Redness:Kamedis Dermatology Daily Acne Cleanser

The Kamedis Dermatology Daily Acne Cleanser fights acne breakouts while reducing skin redness and irritation. Its oil-free formula targets blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, blemishes, and excess oil. It also reduces inflammation and sebum production. It is suitable for ages 12 and above. The cleanser is formulated without parabens, dyes, steroids, and benzoyl peroxide. The product is dermatologist-recommended and cruelty-free.

Pros

  • Cruelty-free
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Reduces redness
  • Paraben-free
  • Dye-free
  • Steroid-free
  • Benzoyl peroxide-free

Cons

None

14. Best Fragrance-Free:DHC Salicylic Acne Face Wash

The DHC Salicylic Acne Face Wash is a non-drying, foaming cleanser that gently exfoliates acne-prone skin. The face wash contains 2% salicylic acid that helps unclog pores and dissolve dead skin cells. It also contains aloe vera and green tea that soothe skin. The face wash is fragrance- and colorant-free and ideal for all skin types.

Pros

  • Soothes skin
  • Suits all skin types
  • Fragrance-free
  • Colorant-free

Cons

None

15. Best Hypoallergenic:Breylee Acne Face Wash

The Breylee Acne Face Wash is formulated with tea tree oil and salicylic acid. These ingredients work greatly to reduce redness and inflammation on your face, while healing acne and preventing future breakouts. The face wash is clinically proven to treat acne and works great for adults and teenagers. It has an oil-free formula that deeply cleanses your skin and unclogs your pores while reducing oiliness. The face wash moisturizes your skin, making it soft and smooth. It contains small molecules that deeply penetrate your skin to effectively treat acne and improve your skin texture. The face wash is vegan, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free. It is formulated without parabens and alcohol.

Pros

  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Cruelty-free
  • Improves skin texture
  • Unclogs pores
  • Ideal for adults and teenagers

Cons

None

These are the best oil-free salicylic acid cleansers available on the market. You can pick what suits you the best and begin using it. Regular use can give you great results.

How To Use Salicylic Acid Cleanser?

Step 1: Wet your face with water.
Step 2: Take a small amount of the salicylic acid cleanser and gently massage it all over your face.
Step 3: Wash your face and make sure no residue is left.

Acne or acne breakouts are the most common skin issue that has gotten almost every soul on their heels. There are numerous creams, serums, or other skin care products to treat acne or prevent breakouts, and salicylic acid is a common ingredient in all those. It helps reduce excess sebum production and alter the growth of acne-causing bacteria. In addition, it helps to reduce skin redness and soothe the skin. The best salicylic acid cleansers are paraben-free, sulfate-free, and dermatologist tested.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Oyendrila Kanjilal, a certified skin care coach, is an expert at reviewing skincare products. She highly advocates using salicylic acid for acne-prone skin and following a regular skin care routine. Here, she took a close look at the best options for oil-free salicylic acid cleansers on the market and shortlisted the best, reviewing them in this list. The products mentioned are highly recommended for reducing acne. They effectively clean the skin thoroughly without harming the skin barrier function.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a moisturizer after using a salicylic acid cleanser/face wash?

Yes, you can apply a moisturizer after using a salicylic acid cleanser/face wash. But you wouldn’t need an additional moisturizer if the cleanser already contains moisturizing ingredients.

Do salicylic acid products cause side effects?

Salicylic acid products not specifically formulated for sensitive skin may cause mild side effects in those with sensitive skin. These include:
• Allergic reactions
• Excess skin dryness
• Burning sensation on skin

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

Recommended Articles

The following two tabs change content below.
Oyendrila holds a master's degree in English Literature from the University Of Calcutta, West Bengal, and is a certified skincare... more

LATEST ARTICLES