18 Top Salicylic Acid Serums for Acne: Get Clear, Flawless Skin!

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Acne and blemishes can be a huge source of discomfort. The presence of pimples and spots can impact your self-image and make you feel less confident.

Luckily, there are plenty of skincare products that can help you achieve clearer and smoother skin, including salicylic acid serums!

A woman in a white towel is applying serum on her face.

If you want to incorporate them into your skincare routine, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together top picks for the 18 top salicylic acid serums on the market below!

Pure Original Ingredients 2% Salicylic Acid Solution
Editor's Choice
  • Targets acne with a concentrated formula
  • Fades hyperpigmentation
  • Improves your skin’s texture
111SKIN 3 Phase Anti-Blemish Booster
Premium Pick
  • Contains salicylic acid, kojic acid, and colloidal sulfur
  • Treats and prevents acne
  • Addresses redness and discoloration
Cetaphil Gentle Clear Triple-Action Acne Serum
Budget Pick
  • Decongests pores
  • Prevents dryness and irritation 
  • Recommended by dermatologists

What Can Salicylic Acid Do for Acne?

As the most common type of BHA (beta hydroxy acid), salicylic acid is a very powerful skin exfoliant that can help address acne in the following ways:

  • Decongests and deeply cleanses your pores. Salicylic acid dissolves the buildup of oil and dead skin cells in your pores, removing acne-causing blockages and allowing pimples to shrink.
  • Controls oil and prevents breakouts. Since salicylic acid also inhibits excess sebum production, it prevents oil from building up inside your pores and causing acne in the first place. This means it can help prevent breakouts.
  • Soothes inflamed acne-ridden skin. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that can calm redness and inflammation caused by acne.

18 Top Salicylic Acid Serums for Acne-Prone Skin

1
The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Serum

Begin your journey to blemish-free skin with The Inkey List’s BHA Serum.

Key benefits: Exfoliates the skin; keeps pimples, blackheads, and excess oil at bay; tightens enlarged pores; prevents dryness

Features:

  • 2% salicylic acid
  • 1% hyaluronic acid
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

This is one of the best salicylic acid serums for oily skin types!

The Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Serum from The Inkey List penetrates deeply beyond the skin’s surface to unclog your pores, stopping blemishes before they start. 

And with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it can help remove acne-causing bacteria from the skin and soothe acne-related redness.

Though it contains powerful, potentially drying ingredients, its 1% hyaluronic acid content ensures your skin stays balanced, healthy, and hydrated.

2
Clinique Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum

Clinique lives up to its promise of creating skin-loving products with this powerful acne- and line-correcting serum.

Key benefits: Plumps up the skin; removes acne and blemishes; improves skin texture

Features:

  • Contains salicylic acid, whey protein, acetyl glucosamine, and clary sage extract
  • Uses advanced anti-aging technology
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, sulfates, and oil

Happy, smooth skin that’s free of visible lines, wrinkles, and acne is now a reality with this winning product from Clinique.

Why choose one skin benefit when you can have two? 

Clinique’s Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum fights both acne and signs of aging in one powerful but gentle formulation.

This is because it contains salicylic acid that keeps the skin blemish-free and whey protein that restores the skin’s elasticity.

You can see visible improvements in your skin’s texture after just a few uses of this serum!

3
Cosmedix Clarity Skin-Clarifying Serum

Cosmedix’s Clarity clarifies the skin without using irritating ingredients.

Key benefits: Eliminates impurities; balances oil production; soothes the skin

Features:

  • Blend of salicylic acid, retinol, willow herb, tea tree oil, and aloe vera 
  • Lightweight texture
  • Suitable for daily use

This serum gives you brighter-looking, even-toned, and clear skin that lights up the room.

Everybody wants clean and clear skin. 

This is exactly what Cosmedix’s Clarity Skin-Clarifying Serum promises with the powerhouse duo of retinol and salicylic acid to rid skin of impurities and excess oil.

Ideal for acne-prone skin, the serum gently exfoliates the skin and removes congestion from the pores to treat and prevent breakouts!

Aside from that, it also helps fade dark spots and acne scars for a clearer, brighter, and smoother complexion.

4
La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum With Salicylic Acid

Claim youthful-looking skin that glows from within now!

Key benefits: Improves uneven skin tone; helps fight acne; enhances the skin’s overall appearance

Features:

  • Contains pure vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals to keep skin youthful and glowing
  • Enhanced with salicylic acid, which makes it ideal for acne-prone skin
  • Allergy-tested

Getting clearer, younger-looking skin is easy with this La Roche-Posay serum.

Integrating this vitamin C and salicylic serum into your daily skincare routine is one of the best ways to fight and prevent skin damage.

The product acts as a powerful antioxidant, skin exfoliant, and nourishing serum in one.

So it can effectively address a wide range of skin issues, including acne, fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and clogged pores!

5
Paula's Choice Resist Advanced Pore Refining Treatment 4% BHA

This antioxidant-rich skin exfoliant packs a punch!

Key benefits: Deeply exfoliates; brightens dull skin; targets acne, clogged pores, and bumps

Features:

  • High concentration of salicylic acid
  • Lightweight texture
  • Ideal for different skin types

Take skin exfoliation to the next level and get more dramatic results in half the time.

The Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment uses 4% salicylic acid to work even faster and deliver the results you need instantly.

A gentle but powerful skin exfoliant, this formula goes deep and works hard to clear and tighten pores, address bumps, and brighten dull skin.

Additionally, it can help soothe red and inflamed skin.

6
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Serum

This is a serum that effectively treats pimples and prevents new ones from forming! 

Key benefits: Combats acne; tightens pores; heals post-acne marks

Features:

  • Acne-fighting and age-defying formula
  • Free of parabens
  • Non-comedogenic

Addressing a multitude of skin problems simultaneously, this salicylic acid acne treatment serum is ideal for acne-prone skin, keeping it healthy and youthful.

Finally, there’s hope for getting acne-free skin with the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum With Salicylic Acid!

Its powerful Triple Acid Complex formulation includes salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lipo-hydroxy acid, all of which effectively exfoliate acne-prone skin.

This means it can clear up existing pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads within a few weeks of use. Plus, it keeps your skin clean and oil-free to prevent it from breaking out in the first place.

Best of all, it has a lightweight, non-greasy feel!

7
Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid Serum

Achieve the best version of your skin with the help of this product!

Key benefits: Controls the production of excess oil; reduces different forms of acne; delivers powerful pore decongestion; minimizes the appearance of pores

Features:

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Fragrance-, paraben-, silicone-, and sulfate-free
  • Hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested

Healthy, balanced skin is on its way to you with the Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid Serum.

Experience the potent acne-fighting power of the Minimalist 2% Salicylic Acid Serum for yourself.

The 2% salicylic acid content of this product, along with other antimicrobial agents in its formula, helps treat acne while flushing out all traces of oil and dirt from your pores.

It can even control excess shine and soothe redness!

Additionally, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, so you can be sure it won’t cause further pore clogging.

8
Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum

A game-changing skincare product combines the powerful benefits of a toner and serum in one formula!

Key benefits: Gives you clearer skin; soothes your pores; brings out your skin’s radiance

Features:

  • Contains salicylic acid, witch hazel water, niacinamide, zinc PCA, and cica
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Clean and non-irritating

Bliss’ Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum helps you achieve a flawless, refined complexion.

Bliss’ proprietary Clarity 5 Complex, made up of powerful salicylic acid, witch hazel water, niacinamide, zinc PCA, and cica, deeply hydrates, exfoliates, and clears clogged pores.

So this toner and serum brings out your healthiest glow and gives you smoother, clearer skin quickly and effectively.

Reviewers even say it can help control hormonal breakouts.

9
StriVectin Super Shrink Pore Minimizing Serum

With an innovative approach to addressing core pore problems, this serum is your ticket to poreless skin. 

Key benefits: Removes blackheads; decongests and refines pores; balances the skin’s oil production

Features:

  • Contains betaine salicylate, enzymatic proteins, and red clover extract
  • Mattifying formula
  • Colorful bottle

One of the best salicylic acid serums for blackheads!

This fast-acting formula contains betaine salicylate, a form of salicylic acid that’s naturally derived from sugar beets.

So it works gently but powerfully to tighten enlarged pores, remove blackheads, regulate excess oil production, clear away the buildup of dead skin cells, and offer a boost of hydration.

The result? More balanced, less oily skin!

10
111SKIN 3 Phase Anti-Blemish Booster

Allow this highly effective three-phase booster to alleviate your breakout worries.

Key benefits: Treats and prevents acne; promotes healing; addresses redness and discoloration

Features:

  • Multitasking formula 
  • Contains salicylic acid, kojic acid, and colloidal sulfur
  • Non-greasy

Get this top-of-the-line skin-brightening and acne-fighting product now!

A multi-tasking booster, this product addresses blemish problems at three different levels: prevention, treatment, and healing. 

It treats and reduces the appearance of acne by dissolving the buildup of oil and dead skin cells in congested pores. At the same time, it uses colloidal sulfur to fight acne-causing bacteria.

And it also uses kojic acid to prevent the formation of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) during the healing process.

11
The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid

A gentle formula that keeps the skin clear, healthy, and rejuvenated.

Key benefits: Increases the shedding of dead skin cells; gets rid of impurities; clarifies the skin; calms redness and inflammation

Features:

  • Has salicylic acid and witch hazel
  • Alcohol- and oil-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

This serum clears and protects your skin at the same time!

The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid works to exfoliate the skin and get rid of impurities.

Aside from salicylic acid, it also contains witch hazel, which is rich in powerful antioxidant properties that can protect skin from oxidative stress and environmental toxins and kill acne-causing bacteria.

12
Nacific Origin Red Salicylic Acid Serum

For easy and convenient exfoliation, this is a must-have.

Key benefits: Dissolves oil and dead skin cells; cleanses and exfoliates; ensures easy use

Features:

  • Contains soothing and hydrating ingredients
  • Non-comedogenic 
  • Wash-off formula

Reveal your healthiest glow yet with the Nacific Salicylic Acid Serum!

This salicylic acid serum has a wash-off peeling formula. It dissolves sebum and dead skin cells in a flash, addressing acne at the source. niacinamide

But don’t let its peeling action intimidate you. It also contains ingredients like Centella asiatica leaf water and sodium hyaluronate that restore hydration to the skin and keep sensitive skin safe.

13
Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum

Prevent acne before it starts with this potent serum!

Key benefits: Tackles blemishes; prevents pore clogging; evens out your skin tone

Features: 

  • Blend of salicylic acid, thyme extract, and glycerin
  • Oil- and fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Use this serum every day to keep your skin smooth and pimple-free.

An oil-free, skin-exfoliating face serum, this product wields the power of salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin, control sebum production, and tackle blemishes.

It also has thyme leaf extracts that promote the healing of acne scarring, along with glycerin, which delivers superior moisturization and offers incredible anti-aging benefits.

It’s specially made for combination and oily skin types.

14
Pure Original Ingredients 2% Salicylic Acid Solution

Keep acne, large pores, and age spots at bay with this serum!

Key benefits: Treats acne; fades hyperpigmentation; improves your skin’s texture; prevents future breakouts

Features:

  • Clean, minimalist formula
  • Safe for daily use
  • Paraben-free

Now you can finally say goodbye to textured skin.

Composed of only three main ingredients (salicylic acid, propylene glycol, and denatured ethyl alcohol), Pure Original Ingredients Salicylic Acid 2% Solution is an expert serum that knows how to do its job.

Aside from expertly treating acne and removing blackheads, it can also fade hyperpigmentation, address premature aging, and control excess shine.

Many reviewers also rave about its ability to control breakouts and improve the appearance of bumpy, textured skin.

Quick Tip

You can also use it as a spot treatment, applying it only to problem areas for a targeted and effective approach.

15
InstaNatural Age Defying & Skin Clearing Serum

Defy aging and skin imperfections with InstaNatural’s anti-aging serum with retinol, vitamin C, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and niacinamide.

Key benefits: Soothes the skin; removes blemishes; corrects uneven skin tone and texture

Features: 

  • Age-defying and skin-exfoliating serum
  • No parabens, sulfates, PEGs, petroleum, formaldehyde releasers
  • Certified cruelty-free and synthetic fragrance-free

Go for a natural skincare product that combats aging and helps prevent and treat pesky blemishes.

 

The InstaNatural Age-Defying & Skin-Clearing Serum combines four skincare superstars: retinol, niacinamide, salicylic acid, and vitamin C!

As such, it can ward off signs of aging, blemishes, discoloration, and uneven texture while decongesting clogged pores to reduce breakouts.

It does all this while decongesting clogged pores to reduce breakouts.

So if you’re looking for a salicylic acid serum that can multitask, you’ve got a winning product right here.

16
Eva Naturals Vitamin C+ Serum

Here’s a powerful skincare multitasker that gives your skin a quick but lasting transformation.

Key benefits: Brightens the skin; fades dark spots; cleanses the pores; supports overall skin health

Features:

  • Potent formula
  • Packed with antioxidant- and nutrient-rich ingredients
  • Suitable for various skin types

This vitamin C serum with salicylic acid has plenty of fans, and it’s easy to see why!

There seems to be no end to what this serum can do. It works as an anti-aging, acne-preventing, skin-exfoliating, and dark spot-correcting product all at the same time!

This is because it’s made with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide, and retinol.

All these ingredients do a powerful job of protecting, nourishing, and exfoliating the skin, helping you achieve a clear, glowing complexion.

17
Cetaphil Gentle Clear Triple-Action Acne Serum

Restore your skin’s radiance and clarity!

Key benefits: Clears the pores; prevents dryness; reduces blemishes; controls breakouts

Features: 

  • Combination of salicylic acid and soothing ingredients 
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Travel-friendly

With an ultra-gentle formula, this is the best salicylic acid serum for sensitive skin. 

Made with salicylic acid, prebiotics, and PHA, this acne serum from Cetaphil decongests the pores and treats acne to reduce the appearance of blemishes after only a few uses.

It also refines your skin’s texture and delivers soothing and hydrating benefits, so it never leaves your face feeling dry or tight.

And it boasts a super gentle, lightweight, and non-greasy formula that suits all skin types, including sensitive skin.

18
Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth AHA + BHA Salicylic Acid Serum

Non-greasy, lightweight, fragrant, and highly effective, this product has won over many hearts!

Key benefits: Clears breakouts; visibly smooths out the skin; dissolves impurities without causing irritation

Features:

  • 2% encapsulated salicylic acid
  • Clinically tested
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

All the ingredients in this product work in harmony to give you the clear, bright skin you’ve always wanted.

The Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth AHA BHA Salicylic Acid Serum is one of the most fragrant salicylic acid serums you can find today, leaving your skin looking, feeling, and smelling refreshed!

A tube of glow recipe face serum on a white table.

Powered by a special blend of 2% salicylic acid and mandelic acid, strawberry fruit extract, azelaic acid, and succinic acid, it gently and visibly smooths out your skin’s texture.

It also clears breakouts and removes dead skin cells and sebum from the pores.

A close up image of a woman applying serum on her acne

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Skin Types Can Use Salicylic Acid Serums?

Salicylic acid serums are most suitable for those with acne-prone oily or combination skin.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, salicylic acid may be too harsh on your skin, causing irritation or dryness. Instead, you can opt for gentle products with milder acne-fighting ingredients, such as lactic acid.

How Do You Use Salicylic Acid Serum?

Apply your serum with salicylic acid only after you have cleansed your face and applied a toner. Make sure to apply on dry skin, then follow up with a moisturizer.

When Can I Use My Salicylic Acid Serum?

Salicylic acid serums are best used once a day at night. This is because its exfoliating properties can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

On days when you have to use it during the morning, do not forget to use sunscreen to keep your skin protected and healthy.

Is Salicylic Acid Safe?

Generally, yes, salicylic acid is safe to use.

However, keep these precautions in mind to avoid unwanted reactions:

  • Refrain from using salicylic acid if you are allergic to aspirin as these two belong to the same compound family. If you are allergic to aspirin, you’re likely to be allergic to salicylic acid.
  • Pregnant women should also avoid using salicylic acid frequently and steer clear of products with a concentration higher than 2%.

    This is because the ingredient can potentially put your baby’s health at risk. Consult your doctor before using any salicylic acid product while pregnant.
  • Stop using your salicylic acid serum if you experience redness, peeling, dryness, or a burning or tingling sensation. Consult your dermatologist for further guidance regarding acne treatment.
A young asian woman is touching her face in front of a mirror.

Have You Picked the Top Salicylic Acid Serum for You?

A salicylic acid serum can help you kick pesky spots on your face to the curb for good.

So why not try one of the serums we’ve featured above? You can pick any product one that appeals most to you, use it, and watch it work its magic on your skin. 

On that note, happy choosing! And let us know what your favorite salicylic acid serum is.

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Author

  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

One Comment

  1. devika bhatore says:

    salicylic acne products are the best

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