7 of the Best Salicylic Acid Toners for Oily Skin & Breakouts

By Tara | Updated: 22/09/2023

Those prone to breakouts and with oily skin will understand the importance of a tailored skin routine. Applying face toner has several benefits when it comes to a skincare routine and salicylic acid toner particularly is a popular skincare step for those who experience breakouts and clogged pores.

Before we jump into the review, I wanted to provide a little background on the benefit of salicylic acid as an ingredient.

You probably have seen this ingredient feature in ance-targeting serums, lotions and in this case, toners.

Salicylic acid is part of the beta-hydroxy acid family. What sets it apart from its AHA sister acid is that it’s oil-soluble, rather than water-soluble. This means that beta hydroxy acid products are more effective in penetrating through the surface of the skin.

In short, it’s a really powerful ingredient to unclog pores, especially when used in toner form.

Okay, now we have explained the science, it’s time to explore some of my top picks for the best salicylic acid toners.

7 of the Best Salicylic Acid Toners

Those looking to combat oily and acne-prone skin can be assured there are many amazing salicylic acid toner products on the skincare market. Keep an eye for acid strength and other ingredients in the formulation to find the product right for you. With that said, here are some of my picks for the best salicylic acid toners.

Paulas Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Facial Exfoliant
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One product that has garnered a bit of a cult following thanks to its efficacy in tackling acne is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.

This is designed to go deeper into the pores of the skin to help dissolve and dislodge any buildup of dirt, sweat, and excess sebum. It also helps exfoliate dead skin cells to reveal healthier and better-looking skin surfaces.

Applying this product daily can lead to reduced redness and swelling which is ideal for those who have acne-prone skin. Aside from minimising breakouts, it can also help with fighting wrinkles and minimising large pores, whiteheads, and blackheads.

It is non-abrasive meaning that it will not irritate your skin when used, but you should apply it every few days or so while checking if there are any side effects. It is gentle to use even on delicate parts of the skin such as the neck area which is a plus.

The two main ingredients here are salicylic acid and green tea, with the latter aimed to fight signs of aging because of the antioxidants that it contains. It is alcohol-free which means that there is no drying effect. You can use it in conjunction with moisturisers to keep your skin feeling healthy and soft.

It’s important to note, that you may not see an immediate effect with this product. It requires consistent use over time to see the best results.


Revolution Skincare 2% Salicylic Acid Toner

Revolution Skincare 2% Salicylic Acid Toner
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The Revolution Skincare Tonic is a lightweight toner that packs a punch with 2% Salicylic Acid, effectively exfoliating the skin and diving deep into pores to banish blackheads and breakouts.

Complemented by soothing Marshmallow Extract, it hydrates and calms redness, leaving your complexion simultaneously clear and moisturised.

The formula is cruelty-free, vegan, and free of artificial fragrances, offering clean skincare without compromising effectiveness. The only caveat? It can be slightly drying, so pairing it with a hydrating moisturiser and easing into it will be beneficial.


Dope Skin Co’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Tonic

Dope Skin Co AHA/BHA Exfoliating Tonic
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Dope Skin Co’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Tonic is a powerful yet gentle, exfoliating toner that will transform your complexion.

Formulated with five fruit AHAs (glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid and tartaric acid) and BHA (salicylic acid), this tonic is specifically designed to combat blackheads, dull skin, uneven skin texture and acne-prone skin. The 2% BHA works to slough away dead skin, remove excess oil and reduce the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads.

Hemp, blue tansy and niacinamide (vitamin B3) work together to soothe and nourish the skin while the AHAs and BHA gently exfoliate, unclog pores and reveal new, healthy skin cells.

Beauty Benefits:

Medik8 Press & Clear

Medik8 Press & Clear


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Medik8 Press and Clear is a dual-functioning, spot-treatment formula designed to combat breakouts and blemishes effectively. The product comes in a small and convenient package that makes it easy to apply to targeted areas. Its active ingredients include salicylic acid and niacinamide, which work together to exfoliate and unclog pores while reducing redness and inflammation.

What sets Medik8 Press and Clear apart from other spot treatments is its unique formula that combines two potent ingredients to deliver quick and long-lasting results. The product is also free from harsh chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and sulphates, making it safe for all skin types.

Overall, if you’re looking for an effective spot treatment that is gentle on the skin, Medik8 Press and Clear is definitely worth trying. That said, if you are someone with sensitive skin, I would probably avoid this one.


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner with Salicylic Acid

La Roche Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution

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Toners like the La Roche-Posay Effaclar have been designed by specialists with users who have acne and oily skin being the main targets. The goal of this product is to help exfoliate and treat clogged pores while smoothing out uneven skin tone. This skincare product has been formulated with glycolic acid to get deeper into the skin where buildup often forms and stays, while the salicylic acid helps with breaking down excess sebum. It is oil free, paraben free, fragrance free, and it has also been dermatologically and allergy tested too. This is an excellent addition to any skincare product that can improve your skin significantly.

This toner is best used in the morning and at night and is more of a leave-on solution for the acids to work well. With regular use, it can help correct any blemishes by targeting clogged pores, whiteheads, and blackheads too. Even acne blemishes will be solved with regular use. Since it is dermatologically tested, it works even on those who have sensitive skin. Tone skin while exfoliating it at the same time with this dermatologist-trusted brand and you will see how great it will work on your skin too. This is particularly useful for those who tend to be outdoors most of the time as the pollution can only worsen your skin condition. By applying toner at night, it will help remove any of those nasty gunk that you have picked up while you were outside which is important before sleeping.

Beauty Benefits:

No B.S. Salicylic Acid Facial Toner

No B.S. Salicylic Acid Facial Toner with Witch Hazel, Lavender, and Tea Tree Oil
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What other toners with salicylic acid should you get? Try No B.S salicylic acid facial toner as this alcohol-free toner comes with powerful ingredients that gently treat scarred skin due to acne. Its three key ingredients are witch hazel, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid which, when combined, delivers a good dose of antioxidants to your skin to boost its health, while exfoliating and unclogging pores. It helps reduce any swelling and redness with regular use which means that your naturally beautiful skin will be revealed soon enough.

Upon checking the list of ingredients, I noticed that it didn’t have any of those nasty chemicals like parabens, sulphates, and phthalates among others which is great! Also, the witch hazel ingredient makes this product useful for all skin types even those who are dealing with sensitive skin. Using this facial toner not only helps those who have uneven skin tone, but it is also effective in getting rid of that stubborn dirt, dead skin, and excess oil that tends to pack into the pores of the skin. Add cucumber into the mix and what you have is a skin care product that refreshes and cleans easily.

Beauty Benefits:

OLEHENRIKSEN Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

OLE HENRIKSEN - Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

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Another choice for toners that you can use, is from OLEHENRIKSEN which is designed to help balance the oil levels on the skin. It is specially formulated to contain three different types of acids such as salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acid which not only remove dead skin cells, but they help clarify and freshen the skin too. The best part? This combination of ingredients doesn’t strip the protective layer of the skin too. Its main feature is its Green Fusion Complex which is the company’s proprietary blend of various botanicals like eucalyptus, Irish moss extracts, green tea, and algae which help combat swelling, redness, and irritation.

If you have oily skin, acne and blemish-prone skin, this product can be useful to you. It refines the pores to help minimise oil production which is important to keep acne breakouts at bay. It has a nice scent to it too which is a blend of peppermint and eucalyptus which is refreshing to be honest. You will notice that your complexion looks fresher than before.

Beauty Benefits:

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner

Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Toner - 200 ml
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Toners like Caudalie Vinopure contain 100% salicylic acid which can reduce the size of your pores completely. This is essential since it helps control the amount of oil being produced. From what I have gathered, it will help with the breakouts and blackheads too. Using this product can help clean and purify skin while reducing impurities and imperfections. You can see that your skin’s texture is getting better with regular use which is one of the promises of this brand. Its three key ingredients are natural salicylic acid, organic grape water, and essential oils for toning and purifying the skin.

The instructions on how to use it look easy enough even for a beginner. Just add a few drops of this on your palms then pat into your skin. You should follow this with serum and moisturizer too to help lock in the moisture on your skin cells to make them appear healthy and strong.

Beauty Benefits:

A Beauty Expert’s Guide to Salicylic Acid

What Does Salicylic Acid Do to Our Skin?

Salicylic acid has the ability to go deep into our skin where all the debris from dirt, oil, and sweat tends to accumulate and dissolve them. It can also reduce inflammation and redness which is why this ingredient is commonly used to treat whiteheads and blackheads. But what exactly does salicylic acid do to our skin?

Which Acid is Ideal for Your Skin Type?

Different skin types will require different acid treatments. Using the wrong one may worsen your condition or have adverse effects on your skin. There are two types of acids and these are AHAs or alpha-hydroxy acids which are water-soluble, and then there are the BHAs or beta-hydroxy acids or oil-soluble.

How to Use Salicylic Acid

Experts believe that the amount of salicylic acid used on the skin will vary depending on the type. This is why you should discuss your skincare routine with your dermatologist first. You don’t want to end up using too much of this acid which can lead to dry skin. The best way to use a product containing salicylic acid is in moderation. Start by applying a small amount every few days while paying close attention to your skin. If your skin becomes irritated, it is best that you stay off of it for a few days.

There are many factors that need to be considered aside from using salicylic acid on acne-prone skin. The key here is to know how much you can use and when to apply it. For this, I would recommend that you talk to a skincare expert first to know what the ideal treatment for your skin that is acne prone.

Can I use salicylic acid toner every day?

Depending on the strength of the acid, it can be used every day as part of your morning or evening skincare routine. I wouldn’t recommend using it more than once a day. The frequency of use should also depend on your skin type. Keep in mind salicylic acid can be drying so those with oily and acne-prone skin will be able to use it on a regular basis. Those with sensitive skin will likely find it to be quite irritating, especially in toner form and should probably opt for other products.

Wrap Up

Acne-prone and oily skin can be really tricky to combat. Not everyone’s skin will react the same to certain ingredients, so it’s important to properly assess the product on whether it will be right for your skin.

That said, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Salicylic Acid is a standout when it comes to toners. Its notoriety in the skincare community is growing as more realise how effective it is in improving skin texture and tone. It comes at a very affordable price and yields impressive results.

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Tara Lusk is the founder and creator of Beauty Space
Tara Lusk is a Sydney-based beauty enthusiast and the founder of Beauty Space. She launched the blog in 2018 to showcase the best beauty and skincare brands emerging from Australia, while also providing insider tips and tricks for hair and skincare. With a focus on tried-and-true products, Tara puts the latest cult products to the test to separate hype from substance.

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