best salicylic acid serum in india
Skincare,  What To Buy

12 Best Salicylic Acid Serums To Tackle Breakouts

Last Updated on April 2, 2024

Whether you’re dealing with pesky breakouts or stubborn blackheads, or simply looking for an exfoliant for oily skin, a bottle of salicylic acid serum is a must-have skincare essential.

When it comes to managing oily or acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is one of the most trustworthy solutions at the moment. 

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark and is a powerhouse ingredient known for its exfoliating, anti-inflammatory, and pore-unclogging benefits. Unlike alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) which primarily work on the skin’s surface, salicylic acid face serum can penetrate deep into the pores, where it dissolves excess oil and trapped debris to prevent comedones.

If you are on the hunt to find the best salicylic acid serums in India, this post is made just for you. You will discover all the benefits of salicylic acid for your skin, learn how to choose a salicylic serum and find the top recommended salicylic acid serums available in India. 

Benefits Of Salicylic Acid Serum

  • Unclogs Pores: 

One of the primary benefits of salicylic acid serum is its ability to clear up dead skin buildup- the key cause of blackheads, whiteheads and bumpy skin. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble which allows it to dissolve the skin oils and reach deeper into the pores to exfoliate it from within.

If you have oily/acne-prone skin, using salicylic acid regularly will keep breakouts at bay and help you get clearer, smoother skin.

  • Reduces Acne Breakouts: 

The most popular use of salicylic acid serums is for dealing with acne breakouts. Salicylic acid works by dissolving the keratin plugs that block your pores. It can shrink existing acne lesions and prevent new acne from forming. 

  • Improves Skin Texture: 

Salicylic acid face serum can help improve the overall texture and tone of the skin by promoting cell turnover and exfoliating away dull, rough skin cells. It will smooth the skin’s surface and reduce bumps while also helping fade acne scars and dark spots for more even-toned skin

  • Prevents Future Breakouts: 

The best benefit of using a salicylic acid serum regularly? Unlike some acne treatments that only work existing breakouts, salicylic acid can prevent future acne flare-ups by keeping your pores clear and reducing inflammation.

Salicylic acid helps maintain a healthy skin environment and prevent comedones by fighting ance-causing bacteria and preventing clogged pores.

  • Suitable for Various Skin Types: 

Despite its potent exfoliating properties, salicylic acid is gentle enough for most skin types, including sensitive, combination and dry skin. It can also be paired with other acne-fighting ingredients to address your skin concerns more effectively without causing undue irritation or dryness.

Also Read: Best Salicylic Acid Face Washes For Oily Skin

How To Choose The Best Salicylic Acid Serum For Face

When it comes to selecting the best salicylic serum for your skin, here are some pointers that will help you pick the right formula for your skin.

  • Find the right concentration: 

The effectiveness of a salicylic serum depends on the concentration of salicylic acid it contains. While lower concentrations ( 0.5% to 1%) are suitable for daily use and sensitive skin types, higher concentrations (up to 2%) will be more effective for treating stubborn acne and congestion.

To avoid a risk of irritation, start with a lower concentration and gradually increase as needed.

  • Check the pH level: 

Salicylic acid works best at a pH level between 3 and 4, which is slightly acidic. Serums with a pH level within this range will be most effective at exfoliating your skin and preventing breakouts.

  • Look for additional ingredients: 

If you struggle to manage your acne-prone skin, look for salicylic serums formulated with other skincare ingredients that complement salicylic acid’s exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients like niacinamide, tea-tree oil, AHAs and even soothing botanical extracts can help you tackle your skin concerns more effectively.

  • Skin type: 

Consider your skin type and concerns when choosing a salicylic serum. Most salicylic acid serums in India are lightweight and water-based making them suitable for people with oily or acne-prone skin.

But if you have dry or sensitive skin, you may prefer a formula with added moisturizing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.

Also Read: Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes For Body Acne

Best Salicylic Acid Serums In India

Whether you’re looking to refine your complexion, combat acne, or achieve clearer, healthier-looking skin, these are the best salicylic acid face serums for your skincare routine.

1. The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid Serum

This simple, sophisticated solution is an ideal choice for tackling blemish-prone skin. Made with 2% salicylic acid, this water-based serum penetrates deep into the skin to improve skin texture by removing dead skin cells that often clog pores. 

The result is a clearer complexion without congestion and fewer breakouts. The serum is perfectly suited for teenagers and adults with acne-prone skin as it offers a gentle yet effective approach to tackling clogged pores.

2. Raw Beauty Dig Deep Serum

Dig Deep is a powerhouse serum that combines 2% salicylic acid, 4% azelaic acid, mushroom enzymes, and caviar lime to combat excessive sebum production and reduce the appearance of blackheads and comedones. 

The quick-absorbing serum smoothens your skin texture and tone as it also works to fade acne marks and blemishes, leaving behind clearer skin. Whether you grapple with whiteheads, blackheads, acne or acne dark spots, this vegan serum is an ideal choice to manage oily, acne-prone skin.

Neemli Salicylic acid serum

3. Neemli Natural Deep Clean Salicylic Acid Concentrate

This daily-use concentrate is a gentle yet effective exfoliator that clears pores and decreases oil build-up, resulting in smoother and more even-toned skin. It has 2% salicylic acid combined with a skin-soothing botanical blend to reduce irritation while actively working on unclogging pores.

Free from fragrance, parabens, essential oils, and animal-derived ingredients, this lightweight serum is a gentle exfoliant suitable for all skin types.

4. Plum 2% Encapsulated Salicylic Acid Face Serum 

Designed to combat active acne and regulate sebum production, this exfoliating serum is non-greasy, non-sticky, and fragrance-free formula. The encapsulated technology helps reduce skin irritation by slowly releasing salicylic acid over time.

Along with targeting active acne and blackheads by clearing excess oil from pores, the serum is also infused with the nourishing and antioxidant properties of chlorophyll and prickly pear extracts which help calm inflammation and support the skin barrier. 

Also Read: Plum 10% Niacinamide Serum Review

5. Minimalist Salicylic Acid Serum

This gentle yet effective exfoliant is formulated to keep acne and blackheads at bay. With a potent 2% salicylic acid concentration, this serum penetrates deep into pores to draw out dirt, debris, and sebum stuck within.

The formula is infused with white horehound extract which is clinically proven to reduce blackheads by 50%. Additionally, it has oligopeptide-10 and EGCG from green tea to offer acne-fighting benefits while soothing inflammation. 

6. Deconstruct Pore Control Serum

With a coveted combination of 2% salicylic acid and 3% niacinamide, this blend effectively targets pores, by diving deep into the skin to unclog them while also reducing excess sebum production. 

Further, it helps minimise the appearance of large pores, leaving behind a smoother, more refined complexion. Suitable for all skin types, this serum is a great choice for those looking for a pore-minimizing serum.

7. The Derma Co. 2% Salicylic Acid Serum

 Infused with witch hazel and willow bark, this formula deeply cleanses pores, tightens enlarged pores, and relieves inflammation for a clearer, more balanced complexion. Salicylic Acid exfoliates pores, and targets acne, and blackheads, while witch hazel and willow bark work together to refine pores and reduce excess oiliness. 

So whether you’re battling active acne or struggling with stubborn blackheads, this serum will give you visible results without compromise.

Also Read: Summer Skincare Routine For Oily Skin

8. Foxtale AHA BHA Exfoliating Serum

This multitasking serum leaves your clear, even-toned and glowing skin. It features a potent blend of 2% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid, this serum dissolves dead skin cells to fight breakouts, smoothen bumpy texture and reduce dark spots and tan. 

Dermatologically tested and clinically proven, it is also infused with 1% niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate and nourish your skin, leaving it soft, supple and healthy-looking. 

9. Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

An award-winning favourite that promises remarkable results, this leave-on exfoliant with 2 % salicylic acid quickly unclogs pores, smooths wrinkles, brightens, and evens out skin tone. 

It is infused with green tea extract to calm redness and minimize irritation, offering a comprehensive solution to oily skin woes. Additionally, it is fragrance-free, clinically proven to be non-irritating, and never tested on animals.

10. Dot & Key Skin Clearing Serum

This lightweight and fast-absorbing serum is infused with  2% salicylic acid, cica, zinc and cactus water. It gently exfoliates your skin to unclog pores, treats active acne, soothes irritation, and controls excess sebum to give you calm, clear, and acne-free skin.

With its fragrance-free formula and lightweight texture, the serum will seamlessly fit into your skincare routine to deliver results with every use.

11. Acne Squad Breakout Blocker Serum

This 2% salicylic acid formula is designed specifically to target acne and prevent future breakouts by unclogging clogged pores, minimising excessive sebum production, and reducing inflammation and redness caused by acne. 

Co-created by dermatologists, this non-comedogenic formula is also enriched with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidant-rich Epilobium Angustifolium Flower extract to keep your skin hydrated, calm and balanced. 

12. Suganda Skincare BHA Exfoliating Serum

With 2% salicylic acid this gentle yet effective BHA serum not only exfoliates dead skin cells but also penetrates deep into your pores to reduce pimples. It has antibacterial and soothing properties, thanks to centella and green tea extracts that will help calm redness.

Suitable for oily and acne-prone skin, this cruelty-free and fragrance-free formula will give you a clearer, smoother complexion without compromising your skin barrier. 

How to Use Salicylic Acid Serum On Face

  1. Before applying the salicylic acid serum to your entire face, apply a small amount of the serum on your inner forearm, and wait for 24 hours to observe any redness, itching, or irritation. Discontinue the serum if you notice any allergic reaction.
  2. Start by using the serum once a week, preferably in the evening, and gradually increase to twice a week if your skin tolerates it well. 
  3. Cleanse your face with a gentle facewash to remove dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin’s surface. You can follow up with your toner before applying the serum.
  4. Take a few drops of salicylic acid serum onto your fingertips and dab it all over the face or just the affected areas. You don’t need to use a large amount, as salicylic acid is potent and effective even in small doses.
  5. Gently massage the serum onto your face while avoiding the delicate area around your eyes. 
  6. Let the serum absorb fully into the skin for a few seconds before applying any skincare products. 
  7. Follow up with a lightweight hydrating moisturizer for oily skin and sunscreen if you are applying the serum during your morning routine.
  8. Avoid using other exfoliating products, such as physical scrubs or AHAs, while using a salicylic serum on your face to minimize the risk of damaged skin barrier.
  9. If you experience any irritation or discomfort, reduce the frequency of use or discontinue use altogether and consult a dermatologist.

Salicylic Acid Serum FAQs

Is salicylic acid serum suitable for all skin types?

Salicylic acid serum is suitable for most skin types, but it is best suited for oily, acne-prone, or combination skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may experience irritation or dryness so moisturize your skin well and avoid daily use.

How often should I use salicylic acid serum?

You cna use salicylic once daily as a spot treatment for pimples. If you are using it all over the face, it’s best to avoid daily use to avoid irritation.

Can I use salicylic acid serum during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

While salicylic acid is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s best to consult with your gynaecologist first before adding it into your skincare routine. 

Can I use salicylic acid serum with other skincare products?

Salicylic acid serum can be used with other ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid or Vitamin C, but it’s best to avoid using it with exfoliating ingredients, like retinol, AHA or physical scrubs.

How long do salicylic acid serums take to work?

It can vary based on various factors but you should start seeing results within a few days. Use it consistently to enjoy clear, glowing skin.

* This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using the link, I will earn a small amount (at no extra cost to you!) The amount helps me maintain website costs and bring more and better content to you.

Rutu Desai is a seasoned beauty writer and expert with over five years of experience working with beauty brands across the globe. With an aim to help people look and feel confident, Rutu shares her expert insights and tips to achieve healthy skin and hair.

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