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Salicylic Acid Cleanser Guide

December 29, 2020

Salicylic Acid Cleanser Guide

Salicylic Acid Cleanser Guide

If you’re curious how about the benefits of SA and how to incorporate it into your routine, then read on for our Salicylic Acid Cleanser Guide!

Skincare Acids

First things first, though.

You might be thinking, “Acid?”, “On my skin???”

Thankfully, these aren’t the acids you might have played around with in chemistry class.

Skincare acids belong to a much gentler class of acids, known for their ability to assist with exfoliation, dead skin cells and more.

These days, a range of acids have become skincare staples. You might have seen AHAs, PHAs, BHAs, and even hyaluronic acid on the shelves. While all have benefitsfor different skin types, some are particularly great for treating acne and breakouts.

Enter – salicylic acid.

What Is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid is a type of Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA). This is an active ingredient that is perfect for treating acne. Being derived from willow bark, a type of tree, salicylic acid is also vegan friendly.

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

A quick recap on how skincare acids generally work. As a general rule, skincare acids fall in one of two categories:

1. Water soluble (alpha-hydroxy acids/AHAs), which are good for surface exfoliation, and

2. Oil soluble (BHAs), which can dissolve oil, congestion and blockages.

Because salicylic acids are oil soluble, they’re good for breakouts and acne! The molecular structure is also larger than most, so it doesn’t aggressively penetrate your skin. This means it’s more focused on getting rid of the excess oil that lead to pimples, keeping your pores clear without irritation.

How Should I Use Salicylic Acid?

Less is More.

In terms of concentration and frequency, the appropriate amount of salicylic acid to use will depend on individual skin types. It’s best to begin with lower amounts and applying it once or twice a week, and scale accordingly for what works best for you.

If you’re using other acids like AHAs, remember that these can add up and increase the likelihood of irritation from overusing acids.

Salicylic Acid Cleansers We Love

When cleansers are formulated with SA, they tend to be gentle enough for daily use, seeing as most of us cleanse daily. Some of our favourite salicylic acid cleansers include:

For Acne Prone Skin: COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

This daily cleanser from popular K-Beauty brand COSRX helps to reduce breakouts and promotes clear skin. It combines both SA and tea tree oil, which ups the cleansing and exfoliating power of this face wash.

For Sensitive Skin: APLB Sensitive Micro Cleansing Foam

The soft, dense micro bubbles in APLB Sensitive Micro Cleansing Foam help to gently remove makeup and residues for a soothing yet thorough cleanse. With a formula that contains just a tiny amount of salicylic acid, it’s perfect for truly sensitive skin types. As an added benefit, it combines Centella Asiatica (i.e. Tiger’s Grass), which makes this foam cleanser perfect for acne prone, sensitive skin.

Plus, at a whopping 200ml of formula it’s great bang for buck.

For All Skin Types: APLB Blackout Cleansing Oil

Combining luxe avocado oil, macadamia seed oil and SA with a nutrient enriched black food complex, this oil cleanser is the perfect option for skin that becomes easily sensitized, red or clogged with impurities. It’s ideal for those with blackheads and congestion.

Shopping Other Salicylic Acid Skincare

If you’re not ready to dive in with an SA cleanser, take a look at a few more options for adding this ingredient into your skincare routine:



1. Effective exfoliation, COSRX’s Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol is a lightweight toner combining BHA with Black Bee Propolis to control sebum and get your skin glowing.

2. The perfect base for the rest of your skincare routine, Benton’s pH 6.0 Aloe BHA Skin Toner is packed with skin-loving aloe and BHA to protect your skin against damage from everyday irritants and stress.

3. Fghting acne and brighter skin, Beauty of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing Toner : AHA + BHA softly melts oil and sebum on your skin’s surface without needing to be washed off. 


Want to read up more on skincare acids?

Try our guide to decoding the various different acids, as well as how to layer acids in your skincare routine.

Have you tried using an SA Cleanser in your routine? Let us know in the comments!

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COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
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COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

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Salicylic acid is a type of BHA that is acne-prone skin's BFF. It is also vegan friendly.


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