14 Of The Best Salicylic Acid Products You Need To Know About

Add to your beauty wish list, stat.

Listen, we get it. The idea of putting acid on your face – or anywhere on your body, for that matter – sounds a tad scary.

But please, don’t let the word put you off because there’s a whole world of benefits the right kinds of acids, like salicylic, can provide — and you’ll definitely want to know about them once you see how they can transform skin for the better.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is one of the major players in the A-level skincare game. A beta hydroxy acid (or BHA), it’s a chemical exfoliator that works wonders to break down excess sebum (the skin’s natural oils), dirt and dead skin cells that clog pores and lead to breakouts. For this reason, it’s a hero ingredient in so many anti-acne products, from face washes to spot treatments and scrubs.

“Salicylic acid is a natural plant hormone to help them fend off environmental nasties,” explained Mark Curry, co-founder of skincare company The Inkey List, as per Marie Clarie UK. “However, we can use this to remove dead skin cells and sebum from our skin and pores. It’s effectively an exfoliant, removing old skin cells and debris (like sebum and oil) ensuring new skin cells can thrive. It therefore supports acne-prone skin and helps it look more evenly toned.”

2024’s Best Salicylic Acid Products In Australia

  • Paula’s Choice Clear Acne Body Spray, $41 from Paula’s Choice
  • SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defence Serum, $145 from Adore Beauty
  • Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner, $45 from Sephora

The best salicylic acid products in Australia in 2024

Paula's Choice
Credit: Paula’s Choice


Paula’s Choice Clear Acne Body Spray with 2% Salicylic Acid

$41 at Paula’s Choice

This handy salicylic acid spray makes it easier to treat hard-to-reach areas like your back (did somebody say bacne?), and is not only suitable for use on cystic acne but makes light work of it, according to lovers of this product. 

“I had pretty bad stubborn bacne for a while (I’d call it cystic) and even tried some prescription products on it without getting anywhere,” one fan wrote in their review of the product.

“This was super easy to use and doesn’t bleach clothing. It took a long time for my previous breakouts to heal but after a few months of using it every day, my skin was super clear.”

Key features:

  • Maximum strength to combat stubborn blemishes
  • Unclogs and minimises pores while calming redness
  • Easy-to-use body spray

Also available at:

Credit: iHerb


DERMA E Acne Deep Pore Cleansing Wash

$30.95 at iHerb

Reduce breakouts by gently cleansing away pore-clogging dirt, bacteria and built-up oil with this Anti-Blemish Complex that features salicylic acid, tea tree oil, willow bark extract and chamomile that work together to help clear up acne and blackheads while helping to prevent future breakouts.

“This face wash is great for acne. Gentle on sensitive skin, size is sufficient and the quality is high. Use it with 2 times daily frequency and the result is amazing. Package is comfortable to use,” one review says.

Key features:

  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Contains tea tree oil and chamomile for sensitive skin
  • Does not contain soy, gluten or GMOs

Also available at:

The Ordinary
Credit: The Ordinary


The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

$22.00 at Adore Beauty

Salicylic acid, charcoal and clays work together in this all-over face mask to target skin texture, sloughing away dead skin cells to reveal clearer, refreshed and more radiant skin.

“My skin is sensitive, combination and hormonal acne-prone, with lots of large pores and bad texture,” says one user. “I’ve had bad reactions to salicylic acid in the past (burning, redness), and haven’t noticed much difference with clay masks except just being super dried out. But when I washed this off after 10 minutes my skin looked better than it has in ages – bright, even, reduced redness, smooth, tiny pores.”

Key features:

  • Vegan and artificial fragrance free
  • Black charcoal draws out impurities that cause clogged pores
  • Ideal for normal to oily and combination skin

Also available at:

Credit: asap


asap Clearskin Bodygel

$61.62 at Adore Beauty

asap Clearskin Bodygel, $61.60 from Adore Beauty

Banish breakouts and bumps anywhere on your body with this mix of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid, which work together to break down and remove dead skin cells, oil build-up and bacteria. Bilberry and white tea extracts provide skin with an antioxidant boost to help prevefnt scarring.

“I get terrible in-growns and shaving bumps, this is the only product that has helped with that,” writes one reviewer. “By exfoliating the skin and getting rid of the dead skin cells, it is easier to remove the in-growns and get a closer shave.”

Key features:

  • Vegan and free from artificial fragrances and sulphates
  • Powerful AHA/BHA blend for optimal results
  • Perfect for smoothing dry skin on elbows, knees and feet

Also available at:

Credit: Kiehl’s


Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment

$49.60 (usually $62) at Kiehl’s

This gentle yet hardworking acne cleanser has been tested under dermatologist supervision to ensure it provides the results you’re after — without compromising your skin’s health.

The high-foaming formula thoroughly cleanses pores and reduces blackheads, whiteheads and other types of acne blemishes, and can be used both morning and night.

“Have been using this product for years and has been the only product that has helped my adult acne and continued to work like magic,” writes one longtime happy customer.

Key features:

  • High-foam acne-cleanser for a squeaky clean feel
  • Contains ginger root essential oil to defend the skin from free radicals
  • Tested under dermatologist supervision

Also available at:

Clear Skincare
Credit: Priceline


Clear Skincare 2% Salicylic Toner

$35 at Priceline

A great option for teens or anyone with congested skin, you can use this peel daily to help break the cycle of acne. The two per cent salicylic acid dissolves excess oil that blocks pores and can help fade acne scars​.

“It’s the only product that treated my cystic acne, the only one that has prevented the acne from returning and the only product that does not dry out my skin,” reads one review. “I could use it on my face, back and neck without problem. I highly recommend this range.

Key features:

  • Powerful formula works on cystic acne, without damaging the skin barrier
  • Daily peel to break the acne cycle
  • Perfect for teenagers battling hormonal acne

Credit: Adore Beauty


SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum

$145 at Adore Beauty

This clever potion does double the duty, tackling adult acne and ageing skin at the same time. Salicylic acid works to unclog and refine pores as well as reduce acne, glycolic and citric acids boost exfoliation and dioic acid inhibits sebum production and fights acne-causing bacteria. A true all-rounder, if you ask us.

“I’m so impressed with this little serum,” says one fan. “I’m able to combat age and breakouts in one hit. It’s very light and non-greasy, and a little goes a long way. Can dry out your skin if used every day, so moisturise well or use every 1-2 days. Pricey but worth it.”

Key features:

  • Potent oil-free serum for spot treatment
  • Works against skin ageing
  • Two per cent Diocic acid assists in reducing excess sebum

Also available at:

Credit: Mecca


Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

$97.10 at Adore Beauty

This cult product is one of the skincare powerhouse’s bestsellers, and for good reason. As well as the chemical exfoliation of the salicylic acid, rice powder provides an extremely gentle manual scrub, while papaya enzymes do away with dead skin cells.

“Although it is expensive, this stuff has literally changed the tone and clarity of my skin,” states one review on Adore Beauty. “You don’t need a lot, therefore it will last you a really long time. Helped to clear my acne-prone skin and keep it looking bright and glowy.”

Key features:

  • Unique rice-based enzyme powder microfolliant
  • Cruelty and paraben free
  • Gentle enough for daily use on some skin types

Also available at:

Credit: Adore Beauty


Medik8 Blemish Control Pads

$64 at Adore Beauty

We love these salicylic-soaked cotton pads for working hard at preventing blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes. They’re great for treating larger areas like the arms or back and are super-handy to take when you travel. But be warned: some reviewers find them quite drying so they may not be best for ultra-sensitive skin.

“Onto my second tub of these and think they are great for oily skin. Even after washing my face it amazing to see the extra dirt that these get off. Can be a little drying so I wouldn’t use every day.”

Key features:

  • Free from alcohol, parabens and artificial fragrances
  • Suitable for oily and combination skin types
  • Great to wipe down larger body areas like the neck, back and back of arms

Credit: Sephora


Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel

$120 at Sephora

If your skin is crying out for a peel, try this Murad offering for a smoother, brighter complexion without dryness. A blend of different types of acid (including salicylic) resurfaces the skin, while antioxidant-packed ingredients and omega-rich oils help to strengthen it.

“I have occasional acne and some acne scarring. I’ve used this product every night for a month now and I see a clear diminishment in acne scarring,” reports one happy customer. “I also feel that my pores are smaller.”

Key features:

  • Contains adaptogenic holy basil (rich in antioxidants) and omega-rich oils to defend and strengthen the skin’s surface
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Prevents dryness and reduces irritation

Also available at:

Best Salicylic Acid products
Credit: Adore Beauty


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Ultra Concentrated Serum

$63.95 at Adore Beauty

Jam-packed with BHAs, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Ultra Concentrated Serum is a supercharged formula that also boasts an ingredient list of LHAs and AHAs to help effectively reduce the appearance of blemishes and breakouts. Perfect for those with acne-prone skin, this serum works overnight to micro exfoliate the skin and flush out dead skin cells.

Key features:

  • Contains LHA’s, AHA’s and BHA’s
  • Reduces the appearance of blemishes, redness, blackheads and pimples
  • Works overnight to micro exfoliate

Also available at:

Credit: Adore Beauty


COSRX Low-pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

$25 at Adore Beauty

Korean skincare is an obsession we’ve all been getting behind lately, and COSRX is one of the heavy hitters in the K-beauty game. Their gel cleanser is mildly acidic to give skin a thorough but gentle clean, and despite its name, it’s perfect to use morning and night to remove light makeup. In fact, it’s touted as the perfect cleanser for even dry and sensitive skin.

“This is a really nice, gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin feeling overly dry or tight after using. I would recommend this!” reads one of many five-star reviews.

Key features:

  • Cruelty, sulphate, alcohol and paraben free
  • pH balancing and suitable for sensitive skin
  • Contains tea tree oil to naturally control sebum and oil production

Also available at:

Best salicylic acid products
Credit: Adore Beauty


COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

$25 at Adore Beauty

COSRX is a must-have for flushing out impurities, reducing excess sebum and improving your skin’s appearance, all thanks to the clarifying benefits of its 0.5 per cent salicylic acid. This cleanser is highly recommended for oily to combination skin types (although sensitive skin types can also use it more sparingly) and is excellent at eliminating acne-prone skin concerns.

Key features:

  • Formulation is gentle enough to be used daily
  • Contains tea tree oil and willow bark to help treat acne while removing dirt and old skin cells
  • Works to deeply cleanse your skin to prevent breakouts

Also available at:

Credit: Sephora


Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

$45 at Sephora

Formulated with salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids as well as neem seed oil, this toner gently clarifies to unclog, purify and minimise the appearance of pores.

With refreshing notes of eucalyptus and peppermint, skin is left feeling energised, without being stripped of hydration.

Key features:

  • Contains green tea, eucalyptus, algae and Irish moss extracts to gently absorb excess oil and refine pores
  • Glycolic and lactic acids (AHAs) help lift and loosen dead skin cells that clog pores
  • Most effective results for those with combination, normal or oily skin

Also available at:

How do I use salicylic products?

Thanks to its ability to dissolve in oils, meaning it can penetrate deeper into the skin than alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acid is a star ingredient for those with oilier skin types — but anyone can use salicylic acid products. If you have oily and acne-prone skin, choose products with a higher concentration, or for dry and ageing skin, opt for lower concentrations.

According to Halo Cosmeceuticals, salicylic acid cleansers in concentrations of up to three per cent can be used twice daily but it’s important to moisturise afterwards (the same goes for acid peels). Water-based lotions are best for hydrating oily skin without adding extra oil.

Salicylic acid is not just for breakouts…

While there’s no question salicylic acid is the golden child of anti-acne potions, you won’t just find it in targeted treatments. In fact, BHAs appear in moisturisers, body care and even hair products. Thanks to its exfoliating properties, salicylic acid can help other ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin and with anti-inflammatory benefits, the result is a smooth, fresh finish. 

“Salicylic acid is also able to calm our skin as it kick-starts cells to produce anti-inflammatory products at the same time,” Mark added.

Unsure if which salicylic acid product is best for your skin? We’ve done the research for you and rounded up the very best currently on the market.

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