This Is *the* Ingredient to Prioritize If You Get Whiteheads and Blackheads

For those who have acne or struggle with whiteheads, blackheads, and other blemishes, there's a holy-grail ingredient you need to know about. Let me introduce you to salicylic acid if you haven't been acquainted already. It's a powerful ingredient in skincare that can really unclog pores.

Derived from willow bark, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is able to penetrate deeply through the lipid layers between skin cells and into pores—which helps de-clog pores (to prevent blackheads and whiteheads), dissolve skin debris, remove buildup, treat acne, and increase exfoliation and cell turnover. Plus, the exfoliation powers from salicylic acid can help your other skincare products penetrate the skin better. Now, that's a long list of benefits that we can get behind.


(Image credit: @emmahoareau)

One of the best ways to use salicylic acid is through a toner. Depending on your skin type and sensitivity, you can use certain toners daily as an exfoliant to keep your skin smooth and clear. It's important to note, though, that the ingredient can be drying, so it's best for oily, acne-prone skin, and it's not quite recommended for anyone with dry or sensitive skin. And experts advise against using products with salicylic acid if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. In short, check with your doctor first before using, especially if any of the above applies to you or if you're taking certain medications.

But if you're in the clear to try out salicylic toner for yourself, take a look at some highly reviewed ones below.

1. Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant

2. Glossier Solution

3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution

4. Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Toner

5. Kiehl's Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner

6. Moon Juice Acid Potion

7. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimising Toner

8. Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant

9. Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner

10. CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

11. Glytone Acne Clearing Toner

12. Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner With Moringa + Papaya

13. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator

14. Glow Recipe

15. Obagi Medical Clenziderm M.D. Pore Therapy

More Products With Salicylic Acid

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.