BHAs or beta hydroxy acids are my favorite exfoliating acids. BHAs have been my secret weapon in keeping my skin smooth and poreless.
When we talk about BHAs in topical skincare, what we really talk about is salicylic acid. It’s the most common BHA that is also used in vegan skincare.
As an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, salicylic acid is effective in getting rid of acne, blemishes, and blackheads. It also prevents future breakouts by keeping pores clean.
From Paula’s Choice to The Inkey List, here is our favorite vegan BHA skincare for 2023 and beyond. Hope you find the right vegan salicylic acid skincare for your skin.
Best Vegan AHA Skincare
PS all products below are vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they are free of animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. 💚
Best Vegan BHA Skincare
Clarify and smoothen your skin with these top vegan salicylic acid skincare products. Find your favorite vegan salicylic acid exfoliants, cleansers, and serums. These vegan skincare products will help you exfoliate your skin in a gentle yet effective way.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser
- Derma E Acne Deep Pore Salicylic Acid Cleansing Wash
- Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Serum
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
This vegan BHA exfoliant is great for getting rid of old and dead skin cells and bringing back a healthy glow. Salicylic acid helps to unclog pores and thus also reduces the look of pores. Green tea soothes the skin and reduces redness. The exfoliant has a nice lightweight liquid form.
As salicylic acid can be a bit drying, we recommend this vegan exfoliator for normal, combination, and oily skin. It’s also great for clarifying acne-prone skin.
- What we like: unclogs pores, improves skin tone
- What we don’t like: can feel burning on sensitive skin
- What reviews say: helps with acne scarring, makes the skin glow
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2%, green tea, methylpropanediol | Main benefits: smoothening, exfoliating, brightening | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, mineral oil-free, recyclable packaging, made in the USA
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser
The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Acne + Pore Cleanser is the best vegan BHA cleaner to reduce acne and breakouts. Salicylic acid clarifies the skin from acne and blackheads while zinc and allantoin soothe irritated skin. This vegan cleanser can also work for hormonal acne.
For extra exfoliation and to get rid of pores quickly, we recommend from the Inkey List also their Beta Hydroxy Acid Blemish + Blackhead Serum.
- What we like: skin texture gets smoother, leaves a refreshed feeling
- What we don’t like: takes time to see results
- What reviews say: good value for money, helps to reduce hormonal acne
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2%, zinc compound, allantoin | Main benefits: cleansing, soothing, exfoliating | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, artificial fragrance-free, made in the UK
Derma E Acne Deep Pore Salicylic Acid Cleansing Wash
This vegan salicylic acid cleansing wash is perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. Containing only natural ingredients it’s very skin friendly and it even reduces and soothes severe acne. This vegan salicylic acid cleanser leaves a very clean and refreshed feeling while exfoliating.
- What we like: a little goes a long way, makes pores less visible, reduces acne
- What we don’t like: can be too harsh for sensitive skin
- What reviews say: works great for oily skin, leaves a refreshed feeling,
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2% | Main benefits: soothing, cleansing, exfoliating | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, artificial fragrance-free, dermatologist-recommended, mineral oil-free, gluten-free, soy-free, recyclable packaging, alcohol-free, made in the USA
Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Serum
Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Serum is perfect for teenagers who are fighting acne. This vegan salicylic acid 2% serum helps to reduce small bumps and blackheads. Since it also contains hyaluronic acid, it’s hydrating and makes the skin brighter. The overall results take some time but by using it constantly the skin texture will improve.
- What we like: smoothes skin texture, reduces blackheads
- What we don’t like: can be too drying for sensitive and dry skin
- What reviews say: pleasant smell, makes skin brighter, great for reducing teenage acne
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2%, mandelic acid 1%, strawberry 3,5%, azelaic acid liposome 3%, succinic acid 0,5%, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, bisabolol | Main benefits: smoothening, exfoliating, hydrating | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, artificial fragrance-free, artificial color-free, silicone-free, mineral oil-free
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
This masque is perfect if you want to improve skin texture. This vegan salicylic acid mask can be used 2 times a week or a month depending on the skin condition. This mask is also affordable and does not contain any drying alcohol. Charcoal powder helps to absorb impurities, which usually clog pores. We recommend this mask for oily skin types.
- What we like: good price-quality ratio, reduces acne, skin feels cleaner
- What we don’t like: can stain clothes and be messy
- What reviews say: leaves oily skin smoother, reduces breakouts, unclogs pores
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2%, kaolin, charcoal powder | Main benefits: cleansing, refreshing, softening | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, alcohol-free, oil-free, silicone-free, nut-free, gluten-free, artificial fragrance-free, made in Canada
Fenty Skin Cookies N Clean Pore Detox Face Mask
This vegan salicylic acid face mask feels very lightweight on the skin and suits even sensitive skin. We like the combination of kaolin clay and charcoal which helps to detoxify and clean the skin surfaces. After using the mask, the skin will feel much smoother and softer. We also like that you only need a very small amount of the mask for each use.
- What we like: improves skin texture, unclogs pores
- What we don’t like: uncomfortable consistency
- What reviews say: skin feels smoother, feels light on the skin, a little goes a long way
Key ingredients: salicylic acid, kaolin clay, charcoal, rhubarb extract, ginger extract | Main benefits: softening, smoothening, detoxifying | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, recyclable packaging, non-comedogenic
Bliss Clear Genius 2% Salicylic Acid Body Acne Spray
Bliss Clear Genius 2% Salicylic Acid Body Acne Spray is a skincare that even lazy people find easy and quick to use. It helps to reduce body acne and dries quickly. Vegan salicylic acid 2% consistency is not harsh even for sensitive skin. We also recommend this product since it has no scent or colors.
- What we like: easy to use, reduces body acne
- What we don’t like: takes time to see results
- What reviews say: works for all skin types, reduces redness and inflammation
Key ingredients: salicylic acid 2%, witch hazel water, niacinamide, zinc PCA, Cica | Main benefits: cleansing, soothing, smoothening | Features: vegan, cruelty-free, artificial fragrance-free, alcohol-free
Is BHA Skincare Vegan?
BHAS or beta hydroxy acids are vegan. The most common BHA is salicylic acid which is either plant-based and derived from white willow bark, sweet birch, wintergreen leaves or synthetically made.
Other (and much rarer) BHAs in skincare include beta hydroxybutanoic acid, topic acid, and trethocanic acid, all of which are synthetically produced and also vegan-friendly.
While BHAs are vegan, BHA skincare products might not necessarily be vegan. Sometimes BHAs are combined with other animal-derived ingredients such as animal glycerin or beeswax.
To ensure you are buying 100% vegan and cruelty-free BHA skincare, rely on certified vegan labels or choose products from fully vegan brands.
What To Look For In Vegan BHA Skincare?
When choosing vegan BHA skincare, start by checking the concentration of the BHA. In topical skincare, the percentage of BHA varies between 0.5 and 5. To avoid irritation, we suggest a concentration of 2% or even lower if you have sensitive skin.
While we do not recommend BHAs for sensitive and dry skin types, if you want to still try them, the best way is to use them in cleansers. As you wash the cleanser off right away, it does not cause as much potential dryness or irritation.
In our experience, BHAs work best in simple vegan skincare formulas which they star in. It is generally recommended not to use BHAs exactly at the same time with benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and vitamin C to avoid irritation or burning.
FAQ About Vegan BHA Skincare
BHA as an active ingredient is usually vegan.
Yes. Salicylic acid is vegan and commonly derived from willow bark.
The best vegan salicylic acid skincare product is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant.
You will find the best selection of vegan salicylic acid skincare online, especially on Amazon, Ulta, and Sephora.
Vegan BHA skincare and namely vegan salicylic acid skincare are must-try for everyone struggling with blackheads, blemishes, enlargened pores, and any type of skin congestion.
We love vegan salicylic acid exfoliators and serums from Paula’s Choice, The Inkey List, Glow Recipe, The Ordinary, and other cruelty-free vegan skincare brands.
Stay tuned for new vegan BHA skincare products for clearer and smoother skin.
See also: Best Vegan Exfoliators
Update on May 04 (2023): Fact checked and medically reviewed by MD Shimona Garg
Update on February 19 (2023): Added more references