CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser – Review

The SA Smoothing Cleanser is similar to the American equivalent the Renewing SA Cleanser, though there are few ingredient differences.

The SA Smoothing Cleanser is a sulphate-& fragrance-free salicylic acid cleanser. It also includes niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and quite a bit of glycerine. It’s suitable for all skin types.

I think a product like this one was missing in European pharmacies, a salicylic acid cleanser without sulphates and fragrance. A lot of European pharmacy brands like to put fragrance and sulphates in products intended for oily skin, which can be drying and irritating.  Although the concentration of salicylic acid is undisclosed, there is enough of it to provide satisfactory results. This cleanser is phenomenal as it gently exfoliates the skin and unblocks the pores without damaging the moisture barrier. I use it all over my body; it works wonderfully for spots (whiteheads and blackheads) and oiliness. I also find it helpful for decreasing Keratosis Piliaris on my arms without using harsh products. I like to use this cleanser on my back, especially after working out, as it provides an easy way to keep spots at bay in a hard-to-reach part of my body. Sometimes, I even use it as a clarifying shampoo, and it does the job well. My scalp feels clean, and my hair remains soft. 

Wherever I use the cleanser on my body, I use it in the same way: I lather the gel and leave it for about two to three minutes then I wash it off. It is crucial to leave the product for a few minutes to allow for salicylic acid to work. I sometimes rinse it off my face sooner, as it’s more sensitive than other parts of my body. A wash-off salicylic acid product is a great way to get the results of SA with little to none irritation. Also, thanks to all the moisturising components in this product, the risk of irritation caused by SA is limited.

Contrary to what CeraVe suggest, I wouldn’t advise using this product for removing makeup. I think washing your makeup off with an oil-based cleanser would be much better. Plus, you don’t want to get this cleanser into your eyes, as it will sting and hurt you a lot. It’s best suited for a morning or a second cleanse. 

I like this product a lot; it is a truly multi-tasking product. I recommend it to everyone who is looking for a skin-friendly salicylic acid cleanser. It works great for reducing blemishes, sebum as well as skin roughness. It doesn’t irritate or dry out the skin. The cleanser contains a lot of moisturising ingredients, which make it gentle enough for all skin types. 



The SA Smoothing Cleanser retails is available on Amazon worldwide [aff]. 

Update 14/01/2021: When I was writing the review, I focused too much on salicylic acid and completely forgot to mention gluconolactone in the product. Gluconolactone (PHA) is a fantastic exfoliant, and it contributes to the effectiveness of the product. One of my favourite serums has gluconolactone as its main ingredient, the SVR Sebiaclear Serum.

While you’re here, I want to ask all of you a favour. I am petitioning for a ban on sunbeds in the EU; the Petitions Committee approved my petition last Friday, and it’s now available to supporters. I would love it if you could support my petition on the EU’s petitions website – here. Unfortunately, you have to register on the EU’s petitions website – I know it’s a dealbreaker for many people, so it’s ok if you don’t want to. Also, you don’t have to be an EU citizen/resident to register. If you have any questions regarding my petition or the registration process, please do not hesitate to ask; you can contact me via email, Instagram, and Weibo. I really appreciate any help you can provide.


4 thoughts on “CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser – Review

  1. I read a review which said they had changed thw forumla and moved to SA much further down the ingredient list. I have a sample I need to try. Looking for a new effective SA cleanser as the one I use has fragrance. Not the end of the world with it being wash off. I wish Cerave would disclose their SA percentage!

    1. I’ve just checked CeraVe’s website, and the ingredients list is the same. Perhaps it was a review of the American version. If you’re looking for a salicylic acid cleanser without fragrance, then I recommend you Sylveco’s salicylic acid wash. It has 2% salicylic acid and a very simple ingredients list.

  2. I know this is late, but for what it’s worth, I found out that Cerave SA Smoothing contains 0.5% Salicylic Acid.

    I saw and felt results immediately, smooth skin, not oily, not dry, not sore either.

    After 3 days my full face acne breakout, due to me overdoing things (I’m chronically lll and should know better but sometimes you just have to get on with certain things), was so much calmer, I felt clean and my acne had almost gone completely.

    I hope they never stop this product!

    1. Thank you very much for sharing this information! Salicylic definitely helps for spots, but, I think, gluconolactone in this product boosts its effectiveness. I focused so much on salicylic acid while writing the review that I forgot to mention gluconolactone, and it’s a fantastic, gentle exfoliant.

      I’m happy to hear that this product has worked for your acne flareup! It’s a wonderful cleanser.

      I don’t think they will stop this product any time soon, especially as it’s quite popular.

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