CeraVe is a well-loved drugstore skincare brand that offers a ton of great options for those with oily, acne-prone skin – including the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser. Here’s everything you need to know about this popular cleanser.

Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Daily Cleanser for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

This gentle daily cleanser contains salicylic acid, a skincare ingredient that effectively exfoliates away dead skin cells. It also contains restoring and hydrating ingredients for a smooth and soft complexion.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Wet the skin with lukewarm water. Massage a dime-sized amount of cleanser into the skin in a gentle, circular motion. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This cleanser is excellent for daily use, as it is gentle on the skin but still effectively cleanses. Since it can be used on the face and body, it's a great multi-purpose product to have on hand.


  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Allergy tested


  • May be irritating for more sensitive skin types

In addition to the salicylic acid, this cleanser also contains three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. These ingredients restore and soften the skin while protecting its natural barrier.

Salicylic acid is one of the main ingredients in acne products, ranging from cleansers to spot treatments to pimple patches. It is a chemical exfoliant that helps with sebum control, thus reducing acne breakouts.

The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is a face and body cleanser meant for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It is formulated with both a beta hydroxy acid and poly hydroxy acid, making it an effective exfoliating cleanser.

Product Overview

The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser is a face and body cleanser containing salicylic acid as the main active ingredient.

Although salicylic acid has the potential to dry the skin out, the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser contains additional moisturizing ingredients (including ceramides) to combat any dryness.

The addition of a poly hydroxy acid makes it a potent yet non-drying formulation for skin exfoliation.

Apart from acne, this cleanser can also be used for a few other conditions that affect the hair follicles.


  • The product claims to effectively cleanse to remove dirt and sebum, minimizing acne breakouts.
  • It intends to provide non-irritating chemical exfoliation without harsh microbeads (a form of physical exfoliation) that can scratch the skin.
  • It claims to maintain the skin’s natural barrier using ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

Key Ingredients

1. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), frequently incorporated into cleansers and creams for acne. It is a chemical exfoliant.

Here is how salicylic acid works:

  • Salicylic acid is a 'comedolytic'. It goes deep into the pores and dissolves sebum and cell debris, thus helping clear out blackheads and whiteheads (called comedones).
  • Since it empties out the pores, it also makes them look smaller, minimizing their appearance.
  • A side effect of salicylic acid is stripping the skin's moisture, causing dryness.

2. Gluconolactone

Gluconolactone is actually higher up than salicylic acid on the ingredient list of this product.

A lesser known chemical exfoliant, gluconolactone belongs to the group of poly hydroxy acids (PHAs). PHAs are similar to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in their exfoliating and skin rejuvenating effects.

The advantage of poly hydroxy acids is that there is a lower risk of irritation when compared to AHAs. This makes them particularly well-suited for sensitive skin with acne.

Gluconolactone also has antioxidant properties.

3. Niacinamide

Niacinamide is often used to treat acne, and is found in a variety of skincare products, including creams and face washes.

Here, it acts mainly as a soothing agent, decreasing the redness and inflammation associated with acne.

4. Additional Ingredients

The product contains three different ceramides in order to help restore the skin's natural barrier: ceramide NP, ceramide AP, ceramide EOP.

Ceramides are normally present in the outer layer of the skin and act as one of the main building blocks of the skin's natural barrier.

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are included as the moisturizing ingredients. They have emollient and humectant properties.

How to Use

You should use the CeraVe's Renewing SA Cleanser twice a day, morning and night.

  1. Wet the skin with lukewarm water.
  2. Massage a dime-sized amount of cleanser into the skin in a gentle, circular motion.
  3. Finally, rinse it off gently. Do not scrub or rub the skin too harshly.
  4. Immediately apply your moisturizer or any spot treatments for your acne.

How to Use as a Body Cleanser

This cleanser can also be used for the areas of the body where one tends to develop acne, such as the shoulders, chest and back. Here, it would be beneficial to leave the cleanser on for a couple of minutes in order to enhance its penetration and action.

Additional Tips

1. Other conditions this cleanser may treat

Apart from acne-prone skin, this cleanser is also a good option for:

  • Keratosis pilaris / strawberry legs
  • Pseudofolliculitis / ingrown hair on the face, legs and arms
  • Back acne, mask-related acne ("maskne")
  • Combination skin

In conditions like keratosis pilaris and pseudofolliculitis, the exfoliating effect of salicylic acid can result in smoothening out of the bumps.

2. Moisturize liberally

  • Remember to use a moisturizer containing ceramides after using any exfoliating cleansers.
  • In case you find the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser to be too drying, use it only once daily, preferably at night.

What to Expect

Immediately post-cleansing, the skin feels cleaner and smoother, without any dryness. Because it is formulated with barrier-maintaining ingredients like ceramides and glycerin, the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser isn't as harsh as some of the other salicylic acid-based cleansers in the market. It can comfortably be used by those with acne-prone skin, combination skin and even sensitive skin.


Is CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser good for acne?

Yes, this cleanser is great for acne-prone skin. It is also an excellent option for those with oily or combination skin, and can be beneficial for keratosis pilaris and pseudofolliculitis.

Can you use CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser everyday?

Yes, you can use this cleanser everyday, up to two times per day.

Which CeraVe cleanser is best for acne-prone skin?

The Renewing SA Cleanser is excellent for acne-prone skin. The Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser and the Foaming Facial Cleanser are also great options. If you’d like to read more about the best CeraVe products for acne-prone skin, you can check out this guide.

The Bottom Line

If you have oily, acne-prone skin with a tendency towards barrier dysfunction, you need gentle exfoliation that doesn't strip the skin dry. CeraVe's Renewing SA Cleanser is a great option for these issues. This face and body cleanser is also suitable for other non-acne skin conditions, like keratosis pilaris and pseudofolliculitis.