boots ingredients salicylic acid review

Tired of waiting for The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution to be in stock again?

Boots has recently come up with a dupe, creatively called Ingredients Salicylic Acid. It works, if you can put up with this one “small” thing…

What’s In Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid?


Salicylic acid is an exfoliant on steroids. It helps treat acne in three ways:

  1. Surface exfoliation: Salicylic acid dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together so they can slough off. Once they’re off your skin, they won’t accidentally fall into your pores and clog them up.
  2. Pore exfoliation: Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, so it easily penetrates the skin’s lipid barrier and gets inside the pores, removing all the gunk that’s clogging them up and giving you blackheads and pimples.
  3. Soothing: Salicylic Acid has anti-inflammatory properties that reduces the redness that always comes along with pimples.

Forget glycolic acid. If you’re dealing with blackheads, whiteheads or pimples, this is the exfoliant to use.

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin


Exfoliation has the potential to be irritating for sensitive skin. To minimise the chances of this happening, Boots has added some soothing agents to the mix.

Related: Allantoin: The Soothing Ingredient You Didn’t Know You Needed

Need help creating the best skincare routine for you oily skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Oily Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


Liquidy and runny.


In theory, it’s fragrance-free. In practice, it smells strongly of alcohol.

How To Use It

No more than every other night, straight after cleansing. You can use a cotton pad, if it’s easier for you.

Performance & Personal Opinion

For me, using Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid is like taking medicine: I don’t enjoy it, but it works.

What don’t I enjoy it? The smell. OMG the smell. I’ve never come across anything that smells so strongly of alcohol (well, apart from liquor bottles, but that’s expected).

It makes me wrinkle my nose every time I put it on. Luckily, the smell of alcohol is pretty flimsy and fades away quickly. You know what else is flimsy? The packaging. You can tell Boots is skimping on it.

If you can put up with that, Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid works wonders. For starters, it exfoliates the surface of my skin, making it softer, smoother, and a little brighter.

It also helps get rid of acne. I’ve noticed the main difference with blackheads. My nose is very prone to them, no matter what I do. But when I use salicylic acid there, they slowly disappear.

While it’s at it, it also helps prevent and treat acne and whiteheads. Just give it time. These blemishes start deep into the pores. Salicylic Acid can get there, but it won’t get rid of them in a day.

Consistency is key here. Keep using it – even after they’re gone (unless you want them to come back!).

P.S. Salicylic acid can also regulate oil production. My skin isn’t that oily, so I can’t personally vouch for this.

Related: How To Get Rid Of Blackheads

boots ingredients salicylic acid

Who Is This For?

  • Acne-prone skin
  • Combination skin
  • Oily skin
  • Anyone who wants to get rid of pimples, whiteheads, and/or blackheads

Who Is This Not For?

If you don’t have any kind of acne (not even whiteheads or blackheads), you don’t need this.


A white and black tube with a pump applicator that dispenses a little too much product every time.

Does Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid Live Up To Its Claims?

With salicylic acid, a BHA, this serum leaves skin looking visibly less oily without skin feeling dry. It helps regulate oil production without drying out skin, but the results aren’t that revolutionary.
Skin feels moisturised. Feels is the keyword here. Boots doesn’t claim this serum moisturises skin (it doesn’t), just that it feels so.

Price & Availability

£7.00 at Boots

Do You Need It?

Anyone with any form of acne – pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads – needs salicylic acid. That’s not optional. But should you get this one? If you care only about results and can put up with an unpleasant texture and flimsy packaging, this’ll do.


Dupes & Alternatives


Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Salicylic Acid, Ppg-26-Butet, Ammonium Acryloyidimethyluate/Vp Copolymer, Peg-40 Hydrogented Castor Oil, Phenoxyetanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Peg-12 Dimethicone, Allantoin, Chlorphenesin, Disodium, Edta, Dipotassium Glycryrhizate, Bisabolol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Maltodextin, Glycerin, Potassium Sobate Benzoate