The Inkey List – Salicylic Acid Cleanser (Love after the first wash)

The Inkey List - Salicylic Acid Cleanser
The Inkey List – Salicylic Acid Cleanser


The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser was an answer to my prayers. I struggle with congested skin; left untreated my forehead is a sea of flesh coloured bumps (comedones). I stopped using a daily product with several forms of AHA and BHA acids in it and pretty much within a few days, I was left with ghastly and textured skin.

Clearly, there is a lesson to be learnt – and time to hit an acid cleanser or toner. I’ll be honest I was tempted to go back to the Facetheory Clarifying Cleanser. That cleanser did a fantastic job with texture, but I like to try different products when I can.

Step in The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser – I am a bit of a fan of The Inkey List. They’ve taken the business model of The Ordinary and simplified it; their products are more accessible, and the website and packaging come with a wealth useful information and advice.

I decided on this cleanser as it is a simple formula, as I wanted to see how effective salicylic acid would be at addressing the texture issues I have.

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser product claims and ingredients

The Inkey List - Salicylic Acid Cleanser Product Label
The Inkey List – Salicylic Acid Cleanser Product Label

This simple cleanser does not have much to it, to be honest! It cleans and actively guards against blackheads and breakouts. The formula also adds a level of protection for managing daily oil production. The overall result should be clearer and more even complexion.

The key ingredients include:

  • 2% salicylic acid – is a beta hydroxy acid that is oil soluble. Unlike AHAs that sit on the top layers of the skin, a BHA will go straight into the pores and deeply cleanses. The action enables effective management of spots and pimples by unclogging and keeping pores clear.
  • Zinc compound – has been included to help manage the production of oil.
  • 0.5% allantoin – helps to calm and soothe any irritation.

The Inkey List line up are cruelty-free and do not use animal products in their formulas. At the time of writing, they were not certified vegan friendly.

The packaging used by The Inkey List is 100% recyclable, but the real joy is opening the cardboard carton. On the inside, you will find a range of useful information about the product.

How I used The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser in my routine

This cleanser is very much a morning cleanser (for me), it’s probably a bit controversial as there is a big swell of people that would see this as an evening cleanser. The reasons for this is due to the fact acids can make your skin sensitive to the sun. Given that I rotate between alpha hydroxy acids and retinol at night, I thought it would keep things more straightforward by using in the morning.

How I slipped this into my routine:

Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Micellar Water > The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser > Timeless Skin Care – 20% Vitamin C, E and Ferulic Acid > Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid (SPF 30+).

As I was using this during the Coronavirus lockdown, there are days I didn’t apply the sunscreen and replaced with a hydrating moisturiser. During this time, I was using La Mer – The Moisturising Cool Gel Cream.

I tended to use this in the shower (I can feel the disapproving eyes on me). Instead of the usual 60-second massage, I would lather my face, let the cleanser do its work and then rise off as the last stage.

My final thoughts

The Inkey List - Salicylic Acid Cleanser Product Spread

On the left-hand side is the product straight from the bottle. On the right-hand side is the product lathered up.

I love The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser; it is cheap and very effective. I noticed my texture improving after a day or two, within a week, it was pretty much gone!

There is the added benefit of salicylic acid being oil-soluble and very effective at managing and reducing spots. During the time I used this cleanser, I did not experience any breakouts of more than the odd stubborn spot. In reality, the few spots were probably going to make an appearance anyway!

The consistency of the cleanser has just the right level of viscosity. Not so thick it’s a nightmare to get out and apply and not too thin most of it ends slipping out of my hands. I prefer this format of cleanser, while the Facetheory Clarifying Cleanser is fantastic; the cream texture is not one that I would immediately gravitate to.

A bottle of The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser lasted for four to five months – remember that I only used this in the morning. Because of the consistency, you do not need more than a 10 pence piece worth to cleanse your face and neck effectively.

The salicylic acid and zinc compound had helped to reduce the amount of oil for the first part of the day. But for someone that is as oily as I am, that is probably the best you can hope for.

I think that this is an excellent all-round cleaner. Still, I would particularly recommend for those with combination spot-prone skin. Obviously, for those that have a sensitivity to salicylic acid, you may want to give this cleanser a wide berth.

At the time of writing, you could buy a 150ml bottle of the cleanser for £10.99 from


I would repurchase The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser again, once I settle down to a stable routine (i.e. grow up) this is more than likely to make an appearance!

If you are interested to hear about other cleansers, I have tried, please click here.

Have you used this product or something like it? Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below.

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