Say Hello to the Salicylic Acid Cleanser that’s perfect for Rough Skin, Acne & Keratosis Pilaris, with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid & brightening Niacinamide!

As someone with a combination and sensitive complexion, rough and bumpy skin is a regular complaint of mine. A mixture of congestion, dryness, oiliness, and inflammation from breakouts are to blame, but a condition called Keratosis Pilaris could also be the culprit in some cases. 

Rough and bumpy skin isn’t just unsightly and makes makeup appear uneven and flaky, but it can also become uncomfortable and itchy. 

This Winter, my skin has been drier than ever. My ever-loved bi-weekly treatment of the AHA + BHA Peeling Solution from The Ordinary was no longer cutting the mustard, and all the moisturiser or Argan Oil in the world wasn’t working, either. The only thing that truly gave me some relief was a prescription lotion and soap alternative for dry skin conditions and Eczema that I had hanging around in my beauty stash.

After turning to cream and oil-based cleansers in the hope to soften and hydrate my dry, bumpy skin, I finally decided to up the ante and invest in a cleanser with salicylic acid: the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser with SA.

What is Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic Acid is known as a Beta Hydroxy Acid, or BHA. In skincare, BHA’s are responsible for exfoliating the skin and clearing out pores. They dissolve the ‘glue’ keeping dry and dead cells attached to healthy skin cells and, unlike Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHA’s, they penetrate much deeper into the skin to eat away at pore-blocking grime and reduce inflammation for a smoother, clearer complexion.

I’m a huge fan of Dr Dray on Youtube and have had some amazing results with some of her previous recommendations (if you’re interested in professional skincare advice and products, I’d definitely check her out!) While she hasn’t spoken about the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser specifically, she has expressed her love for Cerave as a brand, along with their high quality, effective products.

Did you know that Cerave is the number one dermatologist-recommended skincare brand?

I was particularly interested to learn that Cerave’s products are developed alongside dermatologists, and they pride themselves on the restoration of the skin barrier, as well as targeting individual concerns such as dry, rough skin, or even acne, eczema, and psoriasis. All of these conditions can occur as a result of a compromised skin barrier, so Cerave includes an essential concoction of 3 ceramides in every product they create, which helps to restore and strengthen it.

Cerave Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid Review


The Cerave Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid is a clear gel formula. It is fragrance-free, and is void of perfumes that can irritate the skin, but also contains a combination of wonderful ingredients that support hydration and the reduction of irritation and redness.

What’s particularly impressive is the effectiveness of the cleanser due to the combination of carefully-selected, hardworking active skincare ingredients, yet it is hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic, making it perfect for sensitive skin and use with conditions like acne as it won’t block pores.

Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate

While the Smoothing Cleanser does lather on application, this is down to the Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (not to be confused with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, which can be stripping and drying to the skin). Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate is actually derived from Sarcosine which is an amino acid found naturally in the body. It produces a lather to increase the effectiveness and spreadability of the product but without the irritating or sensitizing side effects that can occur with SLS.


As I mentioned before, the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser, like all Cerave products, also contains 3 essential Ceramides that are responsible for protecting and restoring the skin’s barrier. Ceramides make up to half of the skin’s composition and work to keep valuable moisture locked in and harmful elements out. Think of it as security for your skin!

As well as a wonderful blend of ceramides and salicylic acid, the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser also contains some of my absolute favourite ingredients which also act as the building blocks for my skincare regimen: Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid.


Also called Nicotinamide, a major form of Vitamin B3, Niacinamide is also beneficial in the treatment of acne, hyperpigmentation, redness, and reducing oil production.

Hyaluronic Acid

Capable of attracting up to 1000 times its own weight in water, Hyaluronic Acid promotes a hydrated, smooth, plump complexion, and can aid in reducing fine lines and signs of ageing.

My Experience Using The Cerave Smoothing Cleanser

As I write this, I have been using the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser daily for a couple of weeks, and I’m super impressed by how quickly it has worked for me. I’ve yielded results from it way faster than most other skincare products I have tried in the past!

First of all, I am a huge advocate for sulfate-free products, whether it’s skincare or haircare. Having sensitive skin myself, it easily becomes dry and irritated. The addition of Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate allows for a bubbly lather, which makes for a better experience as it really feels like the product is working at cleansing the skin effectively, while still being gentle enough not to suffer from any adverse reactions. It also has amazing spreadability as a result, and a small amount goes a really long way. With just one pump, I have enough product to cleanse my face, as well as my chest and back where I also suffer with dry, bumpy skin and acne breakouts.

I must admit, the first couple of days I suffered a very minor breakout on my jawline, though. I’m still unsure whether this was a form of ‘purging’ caused by the Salicylic Acid or Niacinamide working to draw out toxins and bacteria. In fact, I’m not sure if this was due to the cleanser at all. But in less than 3 days, it seemed to calm down, and after a week had almost completely disappeared, therefore was definitely not caused by a sensitivity to the product itself otherwise I would most likely continue to break out.

After just a couple of uses, I noticed an immediate difference in the texture of my skin. It was much smoother and softer to touch. The last time my skin was this smooth, I had undergone a TCA chemical peel which quite literally burned away numerous layers of my skin to reveal fresh new skin underneath!

I especially suffer from a build-up of keratin known as Keratosis Pilaris underneath my eyes and around my nose (I underwent an in-depth skin analysis with a professional who told me this) which I was shocked to see has all but completely disappeared.

All in all, I am extremely happy with the results I’ve had from using the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser. Due to the innovative, science-backed nature of their products, I’m excited to try out more from the Cerave skincare range as I feel they are a trustworthy brand and their products really work!

Where to Buy Cerave Smoothing Cleanser

Purchase from Walmart (US)*
Purchase from ASOS (UK)*

For more information on the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser, including more about what it does, a full ingredients list, and frequently asked questions, click here.

Have you tried the Cerave Smoothing Cleanser? Are you a fan of Cerave or will you be giving any of their skincare products a try? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Responses

  1. Absolutely love Cerave as a brand. I’ve just ordered this cleanser on your recommendation. Hope it’s as good as it sounds 🤞🏼

  2. Great, thorough review. I’m already using the cream from the range for bumpy skin. Love it. Will probably give this ago once I can get hold of it online.

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