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13 Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizers for Fighting Acne and Oily Skin

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Salicylic acid moisturizers are always on the stage when it comes to balancing oily and acne-prone skin.

Although it may sound backward, people with oily skin and acne need moisturizers too. You may think leaving your skin thirsty will make it less greasy, but what’s actually happening is the opposite. When the skin lacks moisture, it starts to produce more oil to replenish the loss. In turn, the excess sebum produced not only will make your skin appear even greasier but can also clog the pores and trigger breakouts. The moral of the story? Never skip moisturizing. 

Now, at the bare minimum, your moisturizer should at least ensure your skin won’t over-dry. You can be content with that, or you could pick a targeted moisturizer that also helps control sebum and acne. Here’s where the best salicylic acid moisturizers come in handy. 


The benefits of salicylic acid moisturizers

A moisturizer containing salicylic acid (SA) is the perfect balance between replenishing and treating. The reason to use a salicylic acid moisturizer is that it keeps your skin hydrated while targeting the causes of your acne and excess oil. Thanks to the exfoliating powers of SA, it regulates sebum production and unclogs pores, which eventually reduces breakouts. 

The best salicylic acid moisturizers also contain hydrating and skin-loving ingredients such as niacinamideceramidehyaluronic acid, and squalane. Their role is to provide hydration, soothe and protect the skin as well as relieve irritations. Besides, since salicylic acid-infused moisturizers are generally formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, most of them are non-comedogenic and oil-free — so they won’t clog your pores. 

The best salicylic acid moisturizers of 2021

With any of the best salicylic acid moisturizers featured ahead, you can control your oily skin, fight acne, and make your way to an imperfection-free complexion. Pick your most favorite one: 

Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Moisturizer

Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel

This non-comedogenic moisturizer is one of Murad’s most-loved products by people with oily skin and acne. The secret lies in the ingredient list, where salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid take the spotlight. Salicylic acid’s role is to exfoliate dead cells and eliminate excess oil, while hyaluronic acid ensures long-lasting hydration. In this way, skin is balanced, pores are cleared, and breakouts are diminished. Besides these two powerhouses, the Murad Clarifying Water Gel also contains witch hazel water, Korean red pine, and ginger root extracts with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. 

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Moisturizer

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Moisturizer

This oil-free moisturizer by Peter Thomas Roth presents itself as an acne treatment vowing to clear blemishes and prevent breakouts. Since it’s formulated with 2% active salicylic acid, it’s super effective in eliminating the root causes of acne and oily skin. That, and also because it contains Seboclear-MP, a natural compound derived from the leaves of Maclura cochinchinensis praised for its sebum-fighting as well as pore-shrinking properties. Finally, Peter Thomas Roth knows that dryness won’t do any good. Thus they’ve added 10% hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to this moisturizer to keep you away from dry, flaky skin. 

Bioderma - Best Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Bioderma Sébium Pore Refiner Cream

If you are looking for a mattifying yet pore-refining moisturizer with salicylic acid, this is it. Bioderma Sébium Cream is doing really well at keeping shine at bay and tightening pores with silica powder and agaric acid, a natural astringent and sebum regulator. It also exfoliates, prevents pores clogging, and improves skin texture thanks to salicylic acid. Not to say it’s free of alcohol, which often dries the skin out.

Perricone MD Acne Treatment & Moisturizer

Perricone MD Acne Relief Treatment & Moisturizer

Combining salicylic acid, retinol, and niacinamide, the Perricone MD’s moisturizer promises to put a stop to the excess oil and treat blemishes without over-drying the skin. And it’s clearly able to do that. After all, if there’s one winning duo that can fight acne is definitely retinol and salicylic acid. They both exfoliate the skin and work at deeper levels to remove dead cells and oil from pores, helping unclog them. In turn, this reduces the chances of breakouts and reveals that flawless skin you’ve always wanted. Don’t worry. Niacinamide will take care not to let this product cause irritation.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Moisturizer

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Oil-Free Moisturizer

Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat is definitely among the best salicylic acid moisturizers since it also includes lipo-hydroxy acid, a derivate of salicylic acid sharing the same skin renewing, exfoliating, and acne-treating properties. You’ve guessed it right: together, they are twice more effective at clearing pores and reducing oil levels in the skin. In addition, this moisturizer uses perlite and silica powders to mattify the skin by absorbing the oils from its surface. Oil-free? Check. Mattifying? Check. Sebum-controlling? Check.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena puts on the table another best salicylic acid moisturizer for acne, non-greasy and oil-free. It has a quick-absorbing texture that keeps the skin moisturized without clogging the pores nor letting oil take control over your face. As it contains 0,5% active salicylic acid, it’s pretty powerful at clearing up breakouts and reducing the sebum surplus. But it may as well cause dryness and peeling in sensitive skin. However, starting with one daily application to build your tolerance shouldn’t give you much trouble!

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturizer

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Moisturizer

Dr. Dennis Gross Exfoliating Moisturizer is your ticket for a complexion without imperfections. It’s infused with a cocktail of six alpha and beta-hydroxy acids (lactic, glycolic, malic, mandelic, salicylic, and tartaric acids) that go straight into your skin layers, where it accelerates cell turnover and unclogs pores. At the same time, it promises to deliver moisture for up to 72 hours and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier with squalane, ceramide, and vitamin E. Whether it’s about acne, wrinkles, scars, or dark spots, this moisturizer can fight them all. Though, it’s not for the problematic skin types.

Clinique Turnaround Overnight Revitalizing Moisturizer

Clinique Turnaround Overnight Revitalizing Moisturizer

If your skin dries so much to the point where it starts to get itchy, then you have to pamper it with Clinique Turnaround Moisturizer. It’s a super-rich hydrator that plumps and smooths the skin working to restore its radiant glow. Squalane, cucumber, and rosemary extracts are blended with salicylic acid to nourish and moisture without giving up on skin exfoliation. It also doesn’t leave a cast or oiliness behind, which is why people with oily and combination skin praise this moisturizer so much.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Mineral Water Gel Moisturizer

We all know that lightweight water-gel textures are what oily and acne-prone skin types need the most. With this in mind, Vichy made this moisturizer aiding in creating the perfect balance between skin hydration and oiliness. It contains 97% natural ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, plant sugar, and essential minerals that fortify the moisture barrier and enhance the skin’s plumpness. In the meanwhile, salicylic acid slightly exfoliates and prevents pimples from bursting out. Last but not least, it gets quickly absorbed into the skin and provides hydration that lasts for more than half a day.

Lancôme Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Lancôme Hydra Zen Salicylic Acid Moisturizer

Hydration, soothing, and radiance is where Lancôme Hydra Zen truly stands out. It’s a lightweight moisturizer with a gel-like texture that has everything oily/combination skin needs to stay soft and shine-free. First, it contains salicylic acid with oil-controlling effects and moringa seed extract, rich in skin-protecting antioxidants. Next, rose extract hydrates and soothes the skin, supported by the peony root extract. It won’t leave skin feeling sticky nor greasy, and it’s non-comedogenic. Pretty convincing!

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Brightening Cream

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Brightening Cream

Lactic, glycolic, malic, and salicylic acids meet in this brightening moisturizer with one purpose: to get your skin in its prime condition. The powerful combination of AHAs and BHAs makes targeting skin dullness, discoloration, and aging spots much easier, bringing out a more luminous and glowing complexion. Likewise, vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) and B5 (panthenol) ensure skin protection and hydration. While there are other better options for acne and oily skin, this one it’s on the stage for other concerns such as wrinkles, dark spots, firmness.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Lotion

CeraVe SA Lotion

By all means, CeraVe SA Lotion is a cult-favorite product. For good reasons. It combines lactic acid and salicylic acid for an intense exfoliating effect, hyaluronic acid to maintain moisture levels, and vitamin D for skin repairing and protecting. More than that, it’s infused with three essential ceramides having the role of consolidating the skin’s moisture barrier. In other words, it’s a good-at-all multitasker: from soothing rough skin, increasing thickness to regulating sebum and keeping the skin defended.


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