15 Best Acne Face Washes to Help You Fight Breakouts


Anyone who struggles with acne on a regular basis knows that it usually doesn't take much to trigger a breakout. That's why there's a good chance you're serious about your skin care routine from finding the right gentle moisturizer to spot treatments that effectively fight breakouts. But you might be missing one category: the best acne facial cleansers. Finding the right cleanser for acne-prone skin can make a big difference.

"If you have mild acne, using a cleanser and gentle moisturizer appropriate for your acne type can go a long way toward repairing your skin," says Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, dermatologist founder of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD. By "appropriate," she means making sure you choose a cleanser with the right ingredients to combat your type of acne. 

"If you only have whiteheads and blackheads, a cleanser containing salicylic acid will help, while benzoyl peroxide will be more beneficial for these painful cysts," says Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip.

Sometimes, however, the best cleanser for acne-prone skin is one that contains no anti-acne ingredients at all. "If your dermatologist has prescribed you a prescription-strength medication you don't want to have an acne medication in your cleanser," warns Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. "This combination can irritate the skin too much and make breakouts worse." 

As for when to cleanse, she still recommends cleansing morning and night, and always recommends cleansing with clean hands and warm water (too hot or cold can also irritate the skin).

Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, recommends that if your cleanser does contain active ingredients (such as acids) leave it on the skin "while it sings the alphabet." . "This ensures sufficient contact time for all active ingredients to work." Here you can find the best acne face washes for every acne problem.

1: EltaMD Foaming Cleanser: Although this cleanser is gentle, it’s also gentle on sensitive, acne-prone skin. Thousands of five-star reviews praise this pH-balanced cleanser for being oil-, phthalate- and paraben-free. This formula is rich in bromelain, which reduces inflammation caused by acne, while amino acids provide moisture. 

2: Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Creamy Foaming Cleanser: Sometimes the scars left behind by acne are more serious than the acne itself. In that case, this all-natural milky cleanser can help.

Packed with gentle AHAs (especially pomegranate and papaya extracts) ranging from fruit enzymes to exfoliants that wash away dead skin cells and tighten pores. Since it’s also rich in vitamin C, it helps brighten your overall skin tone and fight post-acne hyperpigmentation. 

3: Simple Micellar Makeup Remover: If you love double cleansing, this is the micellar water you'll want to start using.

Wearers of makeup know that double cleansing can help you remove the last traces of makeup as well as oil buildup and dirt to prevent future breakouts. This micellar water won't burn and leaves no residue. 

4: Vanicream Gentle Cleanser: This is Ph.D. Imahiyerobo-Ip is the go-to gentle cleanser. The unscented, creamy formula removes makeup, dirt and oil without leaving skin feeling tight or cracked - ideal if you're already using a dry acne treatment.

5: InnBeauty Project Daily Cleansing Foam: A blend of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and gluconolactone effortlessly exfoliates with every cleanse. Plus, a blend of botanicals (turmeric, pine bark and hedyotis) ensures a more even skin tone. 

6: Epara natural cleansing oil: If you have particularly dry skin or need to remove a lot of makeup, a cleansing oil may be your best option. The product features a group of non-comedogenic active ingredients (moringa, marula, argan and almond), along with brightening licorice root extract, tone-unifying plankton extract and skin-soothing ylang-ylang. If it's not clear already, this won't clog your pores.

7: Pholk daily detoxifying facial cleanser: While it may sound counterintuitive, this cleanser actually contains an oil—watermelon seed oil—that helps remove sebum (the skin's natural oil) which can clog pores and cause acne. Frankincense is also used to keep the skin balanced and calm. 

8: Neutrogena Oil-Free Anti-Acne Pink Grapefruit Cleanser There's a reason why Pink Grapefruit Cleanser is so popular.

It's based on salicylic acid and can treat everything from blackheads to breakouts. It also contains vitamin C to balance T-zone oil. The light citrus scent can also brighten your morning mood. 

9: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser: “A blend of hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) keeps pores clear and minimizes their appearance,” says Dr. Illustrator. The size of your pores won't actually change but if they're filled with dirt, it can make them appear larger than they actually are. Therefore, keeping them clean will make them look less noticeable.

A blend of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid is specifically used here to get the job done. 

10: St. Ives Tea Tree Acne Control Daily Cleanser: This cleanser contains salicylic acid, which is great for fighting dead skin cells. It also has additional anti-inflammatory properties thanks to tea tree extract, which is a more natural anti-acne hero.

11: BiorĂ© Charcoal Acne Cleanser Salicylic acid combined with cleansing activated charcoal penetrates pores and removes all oil and dead skin cells. It creates a cooling tingling sensation that leaves your face cleaner. If you feel dry afterwards, continue using a non-comedogenic moisturizer. 

12: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser This cleanser is formulated with 4% benzoyl peroxide to fight acne-causing bacteria on the toughest blemishes. Since blood pressure may be drying, use this cleanser once a week initially and gradually increase as tolerated.

13: PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser This is another BP cleaner that is medium strength at 4%. It's formulated in a cream that delivers extra moisture, leaving you with soft skin - instead of feeling super tight. You can even use it on your body to treat acne. 

14: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser With 5% BP, this cleanser is just as effective at fighting acne as products with a higher percentage without causing the same drying or irritation, which is a big plus for people with sensitive skin. It also contains hydrating glycerin to moisturize the skin while removing oil, dirt, and bacteria.

15: Aveeno Clear Complexion Cleanser If you have oily skin, salicylic acid is a good choice because it can help remove excess oil from your skin when traditional cleansers may not be enough. PhD. Zeichner recommends this cleanser because it contains low levels of salicylic acid and is non-irritating. 

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