7 Best Salicylic Acid Peels for Blackheads and Pimples Beloved by Dermatologists

Brand courtesy / Paula's Choice
We may include products - handpicked by our editors - we find useful for our readers. When you buy through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission — view our product review process and sources of information.

Whether you’re blemish-prone, have congested pores, struggle with uneven skin tone or texture, or are excessively oily, incorporating the best salicylic acid peel into your routine can honestly work wonders. Salicylic acid is an absolute skin-changer and the ultimate pore cleaner and acne fighter. The greatest thing about salicylic acid? It’s oil-soluble, aka it can penetrate beneath the skin surface where it does its magic. It’s been around for a long while, and for such good reason.

That said, the best salicylic acid peels are the ones that target blemishes, blackheads, and excess oil, without the irritation so often expected with acids. But they also soothe and bring on the glow too! Salicylic acid peels are excellent for combatting the build-up of daily nasties that enjoy lurking within our pores, leading to blemishes and blackheads. But not only that, they’re excellent for exfoliating skin as they purge pores. This leaves you with a clearer complexion that’s brighter too.

The best salicylic acid peels

Incorporating a salicylic acid peel into your routine could really help to regulate your complexion, give those pores a regular spring clean, and reduce acne, blackheads, and excess sebum.

Now keep on scrolling to find the best salicylic acid peels available. These peels are 100% known as the arch nemeses of acne, blackheads, and congestion…and they belong on your wanted list too!


Murad Daily Clarifying Peel

Best overall: Murad Daily Clarifying Peel

Let’s kick things off with the best overall salicylic acid peel on our list! This Murad peel is dermatologist-approved, alcohol-free, and gentle enough for drier skins too. Aside from salicylic acid being the star of the show, the formula is perfect for improving skin texture with added glycolic acid and retinyl propionate to exfoliate and yeast amino acids to smooth and soften. Urea is added for hydration and to reduce skin cell build-up, which helps remove dry patches.


Omorovicza Acid Fix AHA BHA Treatment

Best splurge: Omorovicza Acid Fix AHA BHA Treatment

If you fancy splurging and getting a little boujee, then Omorovicza is the brand to go for! It’s one of the best salicylic peels because it targets multiple skin issues. From city living to acne, the formula works hard to create a luminous, even, plumped complexion. For exfoliation, you’ll find salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acidYeast extract helps restore balance and soothe. And sodium hyaluronate hydrates the surface and deeper skin levels for long-term plumpness.


Youth To The People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant

Best clean: Youth To The People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant

Fancy treating your skin to a cleaner ingredient list? This peel from Youth To The People is one of the best salicylic peels that’s also natural. It contains a triple acid complex with mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and gluconolactone. The transformation? Unclogged pores, reduced oil and skin cell build-up, and strengthened skin moisture barrier. Mixed with superfood antioxidants, this equals skin that is smooth, clear, and even-toned.


PCA Skin Intensive Clarify Solution

Best with retinol: PCA Skin Intensive Clarify Solution

PCA Skin blends 0.5% retinol with 2% salicylic acid in one of the best leave-on treatments to clear acne blemishes and prevent future breakouts. Although it’s not advertised as a peel, it’s concentrated enough to bring skin-transforming results, which convinced us it’s worth a spot on this list. In addition to the powerful actives, PCA Skin Intensive Clarify Solution contains skin-loving ingredients such as niacinamide and peptides to hinder irritations and dryness. Not only that, but it also uses a time-release delivery system that carries the ingredients for up to 10 hours deeper into the skin for better results and fewer side effects.


The Ordinary AHA Peeling Solution

Best affordable: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Here’s one of the best salicylic acid peels on the market that comes at a budget price. The Ordinary’s peeling solution pairs AHAs and BHAs together to deeply exfoliate, smoothen, and even tone. The salicylic acid within helps battle blemishes and unclog pores, while the other acids improve radiance and skin texture. Additionally, the formula packs pepperberry, vitamin B5, and hyaluronic acid to offset the possible irritations from acid use.


Dennis Gross Extra Strength Daily Peel

Best pads: Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel

These two-step pads quickly address fine lines, enlarged pores, blemishes, dark spots, and redness. The first step combines five alpha and beta hydroxy acids (glycolic, salicylic, malic, lactic, and citric), to exfoliate, and added camomile soothes. The second step aims to neutralize acid activity, hydrate, and provide anti-aging benefits. To do this, the formula includes retinol, green tea, and glycerine. They’re the best salicylic pads around.


Paulas Choice Exfoliant with Salicylic Acid

Best drugstore: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

This Paula’s Choice peel is on our best salicylic acid peels list because of the methyl propanediol addition that enhances absorption and increases the effectiveness of each ingredient. This is a peel ideal for blemish-prone, oily, and combination skins. It’s fragrance-free and has green tea extract to soothe and protect. The 2% salicylic acid works hard to remove dead skin cells, clear pores, and reduce blemishes and blackheads. Music to our ears!

FAQ about salicylic acid peels

  1. What products should you use after a salicylic acid peel?

    After using salicylic acid peels, it's best to follow up with products that hydrate and regenerate the skin with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides. Your moisturizer can work wonders for this!

  2. How often can you use a salicylic acid peel?

    It's recommended that you only use salicylic acid 3 times a week at most. Obviously, every product is different, and your skin can build tolerance to products, but peels definitely don't need to be a daily thing.

  3. Are salicylic acid peels safe for sensitive skin?

    Salicylic acid peels are safe for sensitive skin as long as you use a concentration your skin can tolerate. Start with 0.5% salicylic acid and gradually increase the concentration as your skin build tolerance. Still, people with very dry, sensitive skin should avoid salicylic acid peels as they can dry out the skin even more and cause irritations. However, whether or not you can use a salicylic acid peel is often a product-dependent question. It depends on the strength of the acid and what other ingredients are used to soothe, hydrate, and help relieve irritation.

  4. How long should you leave salicylic acid on your face?

    If you're using salicylic acid as a toner-based product, you won't need to wash it off. If you're using a salicylic acid peel treatment, you usually only leave the product on 10mins max. But again, this will always be product and skin-dependent.

Something to remember

Salicylic acid is your top bestie for unclogging pores. If your complexion is feeling a little bleurgh, it’ll get right to work and clear out the daily grime that we are all exposed to. If you’re ready to get a little more exfoliation in your life that leaves your skin clearer, glowing, and all-around-happier, the list above includes the best salicylic acid peels that’ll do the job for you!

Who wrote this?
Amy Ollerton
Amy Ollerton
Amy is a copy and content writer living in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. She fell in love with makeup and skincare as a teenager and was overjoyed to incorporate this into her career. Amy’s writing is always authentic and full of fun personality! If she’s not busy typing up a blog post or thinking about her next palette purchase, you’ll find her outdoor swimming, drinking a bottle of red at the pub with pals, or walking the highland hills with her dog, Lula.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get access to exclusive content, offers, and products.
Was this article helpful?
Awesome! Would you like to share it?
Facebook
Twitter
Reddit
Pinterest
That's too bad. Thank you for your feedback!
Read more
What's new
Why trust us?
Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
Women's Concepts Logo
Join Us