15 Best Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Cleansers To Reduce Acne

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

Written by , MA, Certified Skin Care Coach Oyendrila Kanjilal MA, Certified Skin Care Coach Experience: 2 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Experience: 4 years
Fact-checked by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc Experience: 3 years
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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.

Top Picks
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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

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4.5
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser Image: Laroche Posay

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. However, a patch test is recommended to ensure that the formula does not cause any skin issues later. Click here to check out this reviewer’s experience of using the product.

Skin Type: Oily, Sensitive, acne-prone | Product Dimensions: 2.95 x 1.9 x 7 inches | Weight: 8 Ounces

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

Cons

None

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

Almost 11,588 happy users have mentioned the value and quality of this product.

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

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4.6
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Face Wash Image: Neutrogena

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 with the reviewer’s experience to help you get a better understanding of the product.

Skin Type: acne-prone | Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 5 x 2.6 inches | Weight: 9 Ounces

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

Cons
  • May cause allergic reactions in some

protip_icon StyleCraze Says
After cleansing, wipe with a clean cloth that is used only on your face. Avoid body or hand towels.

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product has garnered over 989 positive reviews on Amazon, and the number continues to grow.

3. Best Fast Action:Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser

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4.5
Biore Charcoal Acne Cleanser Image: Biore

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 in breakout prevention. It claims to clear acne in two days. Reviewers on various e-commerce websites adore the soothing formula that 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.

Skin Type: Oily | Product Dimensions: 1.54 x 2.57 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 7.05 Ounces

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

Cons
  • May cause allergic reactions in some
Our Tester's Experience

"I find this product to be non-drying and quite effective for me. Although it helps clear skin, a word of caution - it may cause discomfort if left on for too long. It might not suit sensitive skin, but for others, I give it my thumbs-up!"

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

There are more than 8,116 Amazon reviews attesting to the quality of the product and endorsing its value.

La Roche-Posay Medicated Gel Cleanser
Best For Sensitive Skin
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser
Best Gentle Cleansing
Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser
Best Fast Action
Skin Type Oily, Sensitive, acne-prone acne-prone Oily
Dimensions 2.95 x 1.9 x 7 inches 6.6 x 5 x 2.6 inches 1.54 x 2.57 x 6.5 inches
Weight 8 Ounces 9 Ounces 7.05 Ounces
Rating
Reviews11,5889898,116
Price$15.99$19.47$7.99

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 and refreshing.

Skin Type: Acne Prone | Product Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 6.7 inches | Weight: 6.7 Ounces

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"I used this product on my acne and noticed my dark spots fading. It is gentle on my skin and washes off effortlessly. I would recommend it to my fellow long-term acne fighters."

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

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4.5
Paula's Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser Image: Paula's Choice

The Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Cleanser is formulated with salicylic acid that helps dissolve pore-clogging impurities. It helps prevent acne breakouts, redness, and dullness and promotes even skin tone. 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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Dry, Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.97 x 1.97 x 5.91 inches | Weight: 6 Ounces

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"This product creates a gentle foam that is not too drying. Moreover, a tiny portion goes a long way. If overused, it may feel dry, so I limit myself to once-a-week applications and moisturize well after."


protip_icon Pro Tip
While cleansing, use the tip of your fingers to gently massage your face in small, circular motions before rinsing off with water.

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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

It has received 4,777 reviews on Amazon and is a popular choice among shoppers.

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

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4.5

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 minimize blackheads and acne blemishes. They also unclog pores with proven efficacy. This cleanser is dermatologist- and allergy-tested. It is formulated without parabens, alcohols, sulfates, soap, and colorants. It is formulated with a light fragrance.

Skin Type: Oily | Product Dimensions: 1.71 x 2.4 x 7.21 inches | Weight: 0.01 Ounces

Pros
  • Clinically-tested formula
  • Dermatologically-tested
  • Allergy-tested
  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Soap-free
  • Colorant-free
  • Mild fragrance

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"This cleanser comes with a pleasant tea tree aroma. It works wonders on my stubborn blackheads and minor skin bumps. It isn't too heavy, lathers richly, and leaves my skin feeling smooth. The breakouts along my jawline have also improved with consistent use of the product."

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

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4.6

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 has proven efficacy to help calm skin appearance and moisturize it.

Skin Type: Acne-prone | Product Dimensions: 3 x 1.5 x 8 inches | Weight: 8.82 Ounces

Pros
  • Unclogs pores
  • Moisturizes skin

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"This face wash clears acne without over-drying my skin. Although it initially caused a minor breakout as my skin adapted, it now keeps my skin clean and acne-free. It is definitely a worthy purchase."

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

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4.3

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.

Skin Type: Oily | Product Dimensions: 19.29 x 19.29 x 49.21 inches | Weight: 5 Ounces.

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"This salicylic facial cleanser does not dry my face or cause any irritation. It does not trigger the acne-prone parts of my skin. It also works on my hormonal acne without being harsh. Moreover, it cleans out my blackheads and minimizes pores."

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.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.43 x 2.51 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 6.72 Ounces

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"This scrub effectively clears up dirt. You can feel a stimulating menthol sensation after leaving it on for a few minutes. It offers a lasting freshness and I find myself repurchasing it from time to time."

10. Best Skin Soothing:COSRX Calming Foam Cleanser

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4.4

The COSRX Calming Foam Cleanser is ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. It is effective in balancing 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.

Skin Type: • Acne prone skin • Oily or combination skin • Rough & dull Skin • Blackheads • Soft | Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 2.1 x 7.2 inches | Weight: 0.01 Ounces

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"My face feels less inflamed when I use this cleanser. It foams aptly and a little product goes a long way. The formula isn't overly stripping, but the salicylic acid does its job."

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 has proven efficacy to reduce the appearance of breakouts and blemishes. It is designed for all skin types. The face wash is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 7.2 Ounces.

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"The Kitava Facial Cleansing Gel has a nice lather and a refreshing, non-medicinal scent. I used it consistently to keep pimples at bay. It's gentle enough for daily use, but it did dry out my skin initially."

12. Best For Clear Skin:Azarvi Exfoliating Cleanser

The Azarvi Exfoliating Cleanser thoroughly removes impurities to give a smooth and clear complexion. The professional-grade 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 aids in blemish and acne prevention.

Product Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 8 inches | Weight: 2.08 Ounces

Pros
  • Smoothens skin
  • Non-irritating
  • Non-drying

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"I love this facial cleanser! It keeps my skin clean, removes all makeup, and leaves it feeling moisturized. I recommend this product to everyone who has slightly oilier skin like me."

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. This professional-grade cleanser is formulated without parabens, dyes, steroids, and benzoyl peroxide. The product is dermatologist-recommended and cruelty-free.

Skin Type: Acne Prone,Oily,Dry

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"I like how this product calms and clears my skin, without causing irritation. It has reduced redness in my skin while refreshing it. It has a strong medical smell which did not affect me, but might bother people with sensitive noses. Despite the smell, I find myself reordering it due to its effectiveness in treating my occasional acne outbreaks."

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

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4.3

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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Sensitive, Dry, Normal

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"I got this for my niece, who struggles with acne. She loves it, claiming it brought clarity to her face. I've used it for years myself. It might cause slight peeling for sensitive skin if used daily, but it really unclogs pores when used 2 to 3 times a week."

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 purifies 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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Normal

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

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"The product can be a little drying but it does the job right. The formula is very concentrated and a little bit of the product goes a long way. Highly recommend it for sensitive skin too."

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.

The Bottom Line

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. For sensitive skin, opt for the La Roche-Posay Medicated Gel Cleanser with salicylic acid that is fragrance and paraben-free. Go for the Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser that is vegan friendly and also offers breakout-preventing benefits. For unclogged pores and moisturized skin, choose the Peter Thomas Roth Acne Clearing Wash.The best salicylic acid cleansers are paraben-free, sulfate-free, anti-bacterial, 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

Is it okay to use a salicylic acid cleanser every day?

Yes, it is okay to use a salicylic acid cleanser every day.

How quickly does salicylic acid work?

Salicylic acid works within a month of regular usage. It removes dead skin cells, unclogs your pores, removes hyperpigmentation, and improves your skin’s texture.

What should you not use with salicylic acid cleanser?

Do not use vitamin C products with a salicylic acid cleanser. Since vitamin C is acid too, the pH balance of your skin may be disrupted due to the use of salicylic acid and vitamin C together.

Should I use a salicylic acid cleanser in the morning or at night?

You can use it at either time or both.

References

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.

  1. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554394/
  2. Optimizing Treatment Approaches in Seborrheic Dermatitis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579488/
  3. Salicylic Acid Topical
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a607072.html
  4. 15 Best Salicylic Acid Cleansers
  5. 10 Best Salicylic Acid Products
  6. 13 Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes For Clear, Beautiful Skin
  7. 25 Best Face Washes And Cleansers For Acne Trusted By Skin Care Gurus
Oyendrila Kanjilal

Oyendrila KanjilalCommerce Writer

Oyendrila holds a master's degree in English Literature from the University Of Calcutta, West Bengal, and is a certified skin care coach. As a beauty and lifestyle writer with two years of experience, she writes about everything that the modern woman needs to know about grooming and self-care. She also reviews skin care and hair care products to guide readers...read full bio