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Dermatologists and other skincare experts have a love affair with salicylic acid for good reason. Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid commonly used to treat oily and acne-prone skin. It’s probably the most commonly-used of all the beta hydroxy acids these days. The oil-soluble compound can penetrate the lipid layers of skin and reach deep into clogged pores. Salicylic acid dissolves the dirt and bacteria that are blocking your hair follicles and causing blackheads and whiteheads.
It is also a great chemical exfoliant for sensitive skin types, softening and sloughing away dead skin cells and allowing new skin to surface. It is even mild enough to be used not just on dead skin cells but also to exfoliate dry skin. It renews the surface of the skin. All of this makes salicylic acid an effective and potent treatment for oily and acne-prone skin.
If you have an oily or acne-prone skin type, you’re probably already using some salicylic acid-containing products as part of your skincare routine. The acne-fighter, found in everything from serums to moisturizers, is used to treat even the most severe cases of acne on the skin. But you may be shying away from using a toner to help with your oily and acne-ridden face.
Toners are the last step in your cleansing routine, as they clear the residual dirt that washing can’t pick up. Toners also help restore the pH level of your skin that can be imbalanced after a cleanse. Lastly, toners can help tighten skin as well. Using a toner helps you care for your skin in many ways.
Let’s have a look at some of the best salicylic acid toners that you can incorporate into your skincare.
What is the Best Salicylic Acid Toner?
If you’re looking for a great salicylic acid toner for your skin at any price point, check out one of these products.
- For Sensitive Skin: Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
- Best 2% Salicylic Acid Toner: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- For Acne: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4
- Alcohol-Free Toner: Humane Clarifying Toner
- Drugstore Pore Minimizing Toner: Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner
- Drugstore Toner For Oily Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control
- Astringent For Oily Skin Types: Clean & Clear Sensitive Skin Astringent
- Non-Comedogenic Salicylic Acid Toner: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
- Drugstore Toner For Combination Skin: Insta Natural Age Defying and Skin Clearing Toner
- Drugstore Toner For Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-In-1 Fight & Fade Acne Toner
- For Oily Acne-Prone Skin: Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner
- For Blackheads: Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner
- Drugstore Toner For Dry Skin: L’Oreal Paris Hydrafresh Toner
- With Glycolic Acid: Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner
- Korean Exfoliating Toner: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Best Salicylic Acid Toner Options On The Market
Best Salicylic Acid Toner For Sensitive Skin – Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
With 80% aloe vera water, aloe leaf extract, and aloe vera juice, this toner is super soothing and hydrating for even the most sensitive and dry skin. The mild formula contains 0.5% salicylic acid, further minimizing the chance of irritation, dryness, and redness. The beta hydroxy acid in this does not trigger irritation in most users, as beta hydroxy acids can be known to do if not taken properly. It’s ideal for those with sensitive, oily and combination skin looking for good-for-you ingredients.
People love how non-drying and moisturizing this toner is and note that it also helps to even out skin tone and prevent acne. Uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation can be skin issues, even if you don’t have any active blemishes. A toner that can even out skin tone and leave skin feeling renewed is useful.
This toner also leaves the skin super soft and, after waiting a few minutes for absorption, it helps moisturizers penetrate better.
You can apply the toner with your fingers or a cotton ball.
Best 2% Salicylic Acid Toner – Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
A cult favorite, this fragrance-free toner helps shrink and unclog pores and smooths and treats uneven skin tone. With 2% salicylic acid, the toner is a mild exfoliant that is gentle enough to be used on the delicate skin of the neck as well as the face. Green tea extract helps to fight wrinkles and free radicals.
Many people with oily and acne-prone skin swear by this product. It has reduced the amount and appearance of oiliness and blackheads on the face, chest, back and arms. It is gentle enough to be used daily and works well under makeup after given a chance to dry down. Many have seen noticeable changes in the texture of their skin.
Best Salicylic Acid Toner For Acne – Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4
As the second step in Clinique’s well-known 3-step skincare process, this toner treats and prevents acne by wiping away excess oil and unclogging pores. The formula was developed by dermatologists to help provide cleaner, smoother and healthier skin. It is free of potentially irritating ingredients such as fragrance, silicone, and gluten.
Users typically experience cleaner and less oily skin after using this toner. They also notice a more refined skin texture. Because it is an exfoliating product that removes dead skin, many people say it helps prep the skin for makeup application.
RELATED: Best Tea Tree Oil Brands for Acne
Best Salicylic Acid Toner Without Alcohol – Humane Clarifying Toner
If you’re looking for a salicylic acid toner that is free of alcohol, has minimal ingredients, and is made by a company dedicated to creating clean products, try this.
The 2% salicylic acid concentration effectively removes unwanted excess oil. It’s also good for exfoliating dead skin and dead skin cells. Green tea extract helps soothe any redness and inflammation.
People with combination or oily skin appreciate the gentleness of this alcohol-free product. Non-irritating and non-drying, this product helps users alleviate hyperpigmentation, blackheads, acne scars and pimples. Some tout it as one of the best over-the-counter alternatives to more expensive products.
Best Drugstore Pore Minimizing Toner – Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner
This popular toner has a combination of salicylic acid and glycolic acid to break down and remove skin debris. The result is skin that is smoother, more even-toned, and with an appearance of reduced pore size.
Users trust this line because it is dermatologist-tested and recommended. They also like that, because it’s fragance-free, it’s good for sensitive skin or people with allergies.
Best Drugstore Toner For Oily Skin – Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control
This toner is formulated with Neutrogena’s revolutionary Microclear Technology, which is proven to dissolve oil and help the salicylic acid penetrate better. This technology aims to fight acne before it even starts. It also has cucumber and green tea extracts to combat irritation.
Users have noticed less breakouts and oil after using this toner. People seem to appreciate that it works on all types of acne, including cystic, blackheads and whiteheads.
Best Drugstore Astringent For Oily Skin – Clean & Clear Sensitive Skin Astringent
Made for super oily acne-prone skin, this potent astringent will remove every trace of oil, dirt and makeup from your skin.
The 2% salicylic acid targets existing pimples and helps to prevent new ones. For extreme oiliness, use it up to 3 times a day on your face, chest, and back.
Acne sufferers love this budget-friendly astringent because it just plain works.
Because it’s an astringent and not a toner, you should use it with caution and watch for irritation.
Best Non-Comedogenic Salicylic Acid Toner – La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
If you’re prone to clogged pores, this toner is for you. It’s non-comedogenic, allergy-tested and dermatologist-tested. The salicylic acid and glycolic acid clear clogged pores and exfoliate rough uneven skin, dead skin, and dead skin cells.
Gentle enough to use twice daily, this toner can reduce redness and inflammation, eliminate dryness, and help heal blemishes. Users with dry and sensitive skin see results as well.
Best Drugstore Toner For Combination Skin – Insta Natural Age Defying and Skin Clearing Toner
Looking for an anti aging toner that keeps skin feeling fresh and healthy?
This toner has a slew of anti aging, moisturizing and acne-fighting ingredients that are either natural or organic. Salicylic acid, tea tree oil, niacinamide and MSM target blemishes while vitamin C and hyaluronic acid fight the signs of aging.
Hyaluronic acid is actually naturally produced by the body. Basically, the main job that hyaluronic acid does is keep water on your skin so that it doesn’t dry out. Hyaluronic acid is important in keeping your skin moisturized, especially if you’re doing any exfoliating.
Users appreciate the natural and organic ingredients and, more importantly, what ingredients are left out.
The milky texture and light scent make the product feel as luxurious as more expensive ones.
Best Drugstore Toner For Acne-Prone Skin – Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-In-1 Fight & Fade Acne Toner
This toner promises to fight your acne and fade scars overnight. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid work together to decongest and soften skin while you sleep. A glycolic acid toner helps exfoliate without needing to scrub your face raw, and the salicylic acid keeps pores clear. The Microclear Technology helps quickly dissolve oil.
Many users saw an improved appearance in skin texture in an impressively short time. Many also claim to have fewer breakouts.
Best Drugstore Toner For Oily Acne-Prone Skin – Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner
Formulated with salicylic acid, witch hazel and lemongrass, this 99.5% natural solution gently clarifies congested skin. Its non-comedogenic and non-irritating formula removes excess dirt, oil and residual makeup.
Witch hazel is becoming more popular these days as an ingredient in astringents. Witch hazel helps tighten skin tissue. Another benefit of witch hazel is that it can fight acne.
Users love this product because of its natural ingredients. Although it is not fragrance-free, many users find the scent refreshing.
Best Toner For Blackheads – Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner
This salicylic acid toner has the added benefit of pore-clearing saw palmetto, soothing aloe vera juice and invigorating peppermint. It absorbs oil, minimizes shine and reduces blemishes.
Thanks to the cooling mint, skin seems alive and refreshed. Many users saw an overall improvement in the look and feel of their skin.
Best Drugstore Toner For Dry Skin – L’Oreal Paris Hydrafresh Toner
This salicylic acid toner is designed with dry skin in mind. Glycerin helps draw moisture to the skin while vitamin B5 helps skin retain moisture. The toner is 99% alcohol-free making it gentle enough for daily use.
Not only do users see clearer skin, but some notice softer and more plump skin after using this toner. Even though it’s meant for dry skin types, those with a combination and oily skin type appreciate how gentle it is.
Best Toner With Salicylic Acid And Glycolic Acid – Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner
Looking for a salicylic acid and glycolic acid toner in one?
This toner is super effective at removing extra oil and debris because of the combination salicylic and glycolic acid formula. Botanicals, such as eucalyptus and green tea, provide your skin an extra boost of antioxidant and antiseptic protection.
Users find this toner leaves the skin feeling refreshed. It does a great job at reducing the appearance of oil and removing residual dirt and makeup from both the surface of the skin as well as pores. Thumbs up for this clean and potent product.
RELATED: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Review
Best Korean Exfoliating Toner – COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
A popular Korean cosmetics brand, COSRX has developed a toner specifically designed to fight blackheads and improve large pores.
Salicyic acid and niacinimide in this toner work together to unclog pores. It dissolves excess sebum that can be lodged in pores, along with any impurities. They also help improve the appearance of larger pores and skin blemishes.
Many users love the oil-fighting ability of this toner. People have also reported brighter skin and improved texture. This toner also works for many who reported visibly smaller pores after use.
Best Salicylic Acid Toners: Roundup
Here’s the list of the best salicylic acid toners for skin care:
- Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4
- Humane Clarifying Toner
- Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control
- Clean & Clear Sensitive Skin Astringent
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
- Insta Natural Age Defying and Skin Clearing Toner
- Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-In-1 Fight & Fade Acne Toner
- Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner
- Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner
- L’Oreal Paris Hydrafresh Toner
- Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner
- COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Can I use salicylic acid as toner?
Yes, you can use a toner with salicylic acid in the formula. There are many toners out there that use salicylic acid as an ingredient. Usually these salicylic acid toners contain such low doses of salicylic acid that it should be fine. But when in doubt it’s always best to do a patch test or ask your dermatologist, especially if you skin is very sensitive.
Is salicylic acid toner bad?
No, salicylic acid toners aren’t bad. They can help you manage skin problems, such as acne and redness. Salicylic acid does well to unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, and manage excess sebum. But anything in excess can be bad. If the strength of the salicylic acid in a toner’s formulation doesn’t vibe with your skin, it might cause irritation. It can also over strip your skin of its oils, which can cause skin dryness and peeling. So while it’s not bad and salicylic acid in cosmetics is safe to use, there are some precautions to be taken.