7 Best Salicylic Acid Serums Of 2024 That Nourish Your Skin

Transform acne-prone skin from the inside out with the power of this wonder ingredient.

Reviewed by Raisa Zarin, Licensed Esthetician Raisa Zarin Raisa ZarinLicensed Esthetician linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA Experience: 5 years
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A salicylic acid serum helps prevent acne, minimize the appearance of blemishes, and reduce dark spots. Thus, the best salicylic acid serum exfoliates your skin, cleanses the pores, removes blackheads, whiteheads, and prevents further breakout.

Salicylic acid or BHA is derived from plant-based sources like willow tree bark and wintergreen leaves that prevent clogging of pores. In addition, it penetrates your skin and eliminates oil buildup. Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in creams, face washes, and other formulae that are crafted for acne-prone skin. However, you can enjoy its true benefits only through serums.

Picking the right salicylic acid serums that nourish your skin can be challenging. So, in this article, we bring you the 7 best tried and tested salicylic acid serums. Read on.

Top Picks
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Best Overall:Cos De BAHA S4 Salicylic Acid BHA 4% Serum
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Best For Skin Redness:Neutralyze Clearing Serum
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Best For Enlarged Pores:Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum
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Best For All Skin Types:Divulge Beauty Daily Exfoliating Serum
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Best For Acne:Derma E Acne Blemish Control Treatment Serum
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Best For Uneven Skin Tone:Dermalogica Active Clearing Age Bright Clearing Serum
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Best For Wrinkles:Pure Salicylic Acid 5% Clarifying Serum
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7 Best Salicylic Acid Serums With Different Concentrations

Best Overall:Cos De BAHA S4 Salicylic Acid BHA 4% Serum

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Cos De BAHA S4 Salicylic Acid BHA 4% Serum Image: Cos De Baha

This serum from Cos De BAHA is an effective solution for multiple skin conditions. It contains 4% salicylic acid with niacinamide, which helps reduce blemishes, acne, dullness, and uneven skin tone with proven efficacy. The results-driven serum also exfoliates the skin to improve clarity.

The salicylic acid in the formula eliminates dead skin cells and unclogs pores to clear congestion. It penetrates deep into the walls of the pores to repair the skin. This serum reduces blackheads, breakouts, and redness by dissolving pore-clogging impurities and gently removing makeup, excess oil, and dirt. It also rejuvenates the skin and contains lipid-soluble and keratolytic peeling agents that help oily, sensitive, and rosacea-prone skin types. Esthetician, Raisa Zarin, advises, “Serums like these should be worn at night time because it can make your skin sensitive to the sun.”

Skin Type: Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 1.4 x 4 inches | Weight: 1 Ounces.


Pros
  • Non-irritating
  • Oil-control formula
  • A little goes a long way
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Nut-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons
  • Sticky
protip_icon Quick Tip
Concentrated salicylic acid serums with concentrations of 2-7% should be used at most once a day. Lower concentrations below 2% can be used up to 3 times daily.


The Neutralyze Clearing Serum contains 2% salicylic acid, nitrogen, and 1% mandelic acid to boost the health of your skin. The clinically-proven formula is highly effective and delivers noticeable results from the first day of application. It visibly reduces redness and irritation and improves the skin tone.

This dermatologist-tested salicylic acid serum uses the multi-patented Nitrogen Boost skin care technology to prevent acne and heal the skin. It also prevents future breakouts and corrects uneven skin tone through gentle exfoliation. This serum delivers visible results and diminishes dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines to reveal a youthful glow. Endorsed by medical professionals, it is also effective for pimples, cystic acne, whiteheads, blemishes, blackheads, dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. It helps with spot treatment and blackhead removal through deep cleansing, promoting skin renewal.

Product Dimensions:‎5.04 x 3.07 x 1.89 inches | Weight: 5.29 Ounces

Pros
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Suitable for teens and adults
  • Can also be used on the body
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons
  • Contains alcohol
  • Overpowering scent
protip_icon Caution
Do not use concentrated salicylic acid products for long periods. Consult a dermatologist if there is no visible result in 6 weeks.


Best For Enlarged Pores:Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum

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Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum Image: Caudalie

The Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum is the best for tightening pores. The clinically-tested formula fades imperfections and makes your skin clean and clear. This skin-clarifying contains natural salicylic acid that unclogs and tightens the pores and an essential oil complex that purifies and tones the skin. The antioxidant-rich grape seed in the serum moisturizes and soothes the skin. This expert-recommended lightweight serum absorbs excess oil and prevents blackheads. It helps in gentle exfoliation while remaining anti-inflammatory. Perform a patch test before using the product for optimum safety.

Skin Type: Sensitive Skin,Oily Skin | Product Dimensions: 3.15 x 1.97 x 3.94 inches | Weight: 1.76 Ounces


Pros
  • Smells good
  • Paraben-free
  • SLS-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Phenoxyethanol-free
  • No animal-based ingredients
  • Dermatologically tested

Cons
  • Leaves a sticky residue.
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Why We Think It's Worth Buying

The overwhelming 600 positive reviews on Amazon show how popular this product is with happy users.

Cos De BAHA S4 Salicylic Acid BHA 4% Serum
Best Overall
Neutralyze Clearing Serum
Best For Skin Redness
Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum
Best For Enlarged Pores
Skin Type Normal- Sensitive Skin,Oily Skin
Dimensions 1.4 x 1.4 x 4 inches‎5.04 x 3.07 x 1.89 inches 3.15 x 1.97 x 3.94 inches
Weight 1 Ounces. 5.29 Ounces 1.76 Ounces
Rating
Reviews425699600
Price$11.99$19.95$49
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This 7% salicylic acid serum exfoliates dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and fades wrinkles and fine lines to reveal bright and even-toned skin. According to multiple reviewers, it is suitable for all skin types and imparts softness and smoothness to the skin by refining its texture. The BHA or salicylic acid has natural skin-calming properties that soothe rosacea and redness. It deeply penetrates the pores to get rid of uneven texture and blackheads. It promotes breakout prevention and smooth skin texture. Patch testing is highly recommended for individuals with sensitive skin conditions.

Esthetician, Raisa Zarin, advises, “This is a stronger percentage so those who have sensitive skin should use with caution. I would also not recommend those who have rosacea to use this without doing a test patch below the jawline.”

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Sensitive, Dry, Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 1.2 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 1 Ounces.

Pros
  • Non-abrasive
  • Lightweight
  • No pH-disturbing chemicals
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologically-approved

Cons
  • Stings a bit
protip_icon Pro Tip
Do not apply the serum over a large area, as it can cause salicylate poisoning. Use it only on the specific site of treatment.


The Derma E Acne Blemish Control Treatment Serum has a lightweight formula with 0.5% salicylic acid for mild exfoliation. It also contains a unique Anti-Blemish Complex that features tea tree oil, lavender, chamomile, aloe vera, and willow bark extract to fade blemishes and prevent their formation. These ingredients deeply penetrate and unclog the pores to prevent acne formation and give a healthy appearance to your skin. Multiple reviewers’ experience indicates that it has anti-aging properties, prevents clogged pores, and reduces acne scars.

Skin Type: Combination | Product Dimensions: 2.87 x 1.38 x 1.14 inches | Weight: 4.16 Ounces.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Artificial color-free
  • Artificial scent-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Petroleum-free

Cons
  • Leaves residue
  • Strong scent


This serum from Dermalogica helps fade aging signs and acne to reveal bright and even-toned skin. The salicylic acid in it exfoliates the skin and prevents acne and breakouts. This clinically-proven serum also increases cell turnover. The Age Bright Complex in the formula works with the natural microbiome in the skin to make it appear clear and radiant, and is supported by clinical data,. The professional-grade serum also contains phyto actives derived from the resurrection plant to keep the skin hydrated and smooth. The niacinamide and white shiitake mushrooms in the formula even out the skin tone. According to the testers’ experiences, it works great for acne-prone skin and has a hydrating formula that promotes redness reduction.

Skin Type: Oily,All Types Of Skin,Sensitive | Product Dimensions: 0.79 x 0.79 x 2.36 inches | Weight: 0.01 Ounces.

Pros
  • Mild scent
  • Absorbed quickly
  • A little goes a long way
  • Non-greasy

Cons
  • Expensive


This serum from Pure Organic Ingredients contains 5% salicylic acid and can be used to deal with acne, hyperpigmentation, and premature aging. It exfoliates the inside walls of the pores and clarifies the skin with regular use. The formula is especially effective on under-eye bags, wrinkles, large pores, breakouts, and uneven skin tone. The antioxidants in the serum neutralize free radicals and prevent wrinkles and fine lines. It helps with sebum control while minimizing pore sizes and promoting healthy skin.

However, we recommend patch testing if you have extremely sensitive skin to avoid adverse reactions.

Skin Type: Dry

Pros
  • Gentle
  • Cruelty-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Promotes even skin tone

Cons
  • Greasy

Infographic: Things To Know Before Buying A Salicylic Acid Serum

Salicylic acid is considered the holy grail by many people for treating acne-prone skin. It decongests pores, manages excess oil, removes black and whiteheads, and leaves the skin smooth and clear. However, not all salicylic acid serums are the same, and there are some things you should consider before buying one.

Check out the infographic below for helpful tips and begin transforming your skin.

Things To Know Before Buying A Salicylic Acid Serum (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

Salicylic acid serums help reduce dark spots, minimize the appearance of blemishes, and prevent acne and other skin woes. Salicylic acid penetrates your skin deeply, eliminates build-up in the skin, and prevents pore-clogging. The Cos De BAHA S4 Salicylic Acid BHA 4% Serum is a potent 4% salicylic acid to target stubborn acne and clogged pores, while the Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum contains natural-derived salicylic acid to refine the appearance of pores and smoothen rough skin texture. Moreover, the products mentioned above are free from harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances or colors. You should pick the best salicylic acid serum based on your skin type and avoid any product that has a strong scent. Finally, use it regularly to feel the difference!

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Shiboli Chakraborti, the author, is a certified skin care coach with a deep affinity for finding products that aid and improve skin health and prevent skin issues like acne. In this article, she lists out various salicylic acid serums with different concentrations. She studied and researched each of these products and their reviews on multiple forums. She selected these products based on skin-friendly ingredients, the absence of harsh elements, skin care benefits, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will salicylic acid lighten the skin?

No, salicylic acid doesn’t lighten the skin tone.

Does salicylic acid fade dark spots?

Yes, salicylic acid can help fade dark spots.

Can I use a salicylic acid serum every day?

Yes, you can use a salicylic acid serum every day. However, if you experience skin irritation, make sure to consult your doctor and reduce its usage.

Should I moisturize after using salicylic acid serum?

Yes, but wait 20 minutes before moisturizing your skin after using a salicylic acid serum.

How long does salicylic acid serum take to work?

A salicylic acid serum takes six to eight weeks to work.

Is it okay if I use vitamin C serum in the morning and salicylic acid serum at night?

No, combining vitamin C and salicylic acid in your serum routine may disturb the pH-balance of your skin.

Can you use 2% salicylic acid daily as a serum on teenage acne-prone skin?

Yes, you can use 2% salicylic acid serum daily on teenage acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid prevents breakouts and controls sebum production. However, consult your doctor before using if your skin is hypersensitive.


Raisa Zarin

Raisa ZarinLicensed Esthetician

Raisa's passion for skin care and makeup began at a young age, inspired by her mother's experimentation with different products. While pursuing a degree in Forensic Psychology in college, she realized her true calling and decided to change course during the pandemic. After graduating, Raisa enrolled in an esthetics program where she fell in love with the curriculum and worked...read full bio