If you struggle with acne, you're likely already on a strict skincare routine. You have your exfoliating serums, your spot treatments, and your oil-free moisturizer, but something you may have overlooked: a face wash for acne. I know what you're thinking: "Can a cleanser really make a difference with my acne?" And the answer is yes.
Advice from Dermatologists
"If you have mild acne using the appropriate cleanser for your acne type and a gentle moisturizer can go a long way to repairing your skin," says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, a dermatologist and founder of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD. And by appropriate she means to make sure you're choosing a cleanser with the right ingredients to fight your type of acne. "If you have whiteheads and blackheads only, a cleanser containing salicylic acid will be helpful whereas benzoyl peroxide will be more beneficial for those painful cysts," says Dr. Imahi Yeobo-Ip.
Though sometimes, the best cleanser for your pimple-prone skin could be one with no acne-fighting ingredients at all. "If your dermatologist has prescribed you prescription-strength medication, then you don't want acne medicine in your cleanser," warns Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip. "The combination will be too irritating to the skin and may worsen your breakout."
As for when you should cleanse, she still recommends morning and evening and advises to always do so with clean hands and lukewarm water (too hot or too cold can also irritate your skin). And if your cleanser does include active ingredients (i.e. an acid), let it sit on the skin "while singing the alphabet," recommends Joshua Zeichner, MD, and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "This ensures enough contact time to allow any active ingredients to do their jobs."
Here are the best acne face washes for every type of pimple problem.
Best Acne Skin Kit For You
If you’re looking for a beauty tool for thorough, gentle cleansing, look no further. The LumiSpa, Nu Skin’s rechargeable, waterproof beauty device, provides exactly that and is incredibly easy to use and maintain.
Read more review here
Your cleansing kit consists of:
- ageLOC LumiSpa Device
- ageLOC LumiSpa Silicone Head – Normal
- ageLOC LumiSpa Activating Cleanser – Blemish Prone Skin
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Cleansing is important for both men and women, and the ageLOC LumiSpa is great at it. It’ll remove makeup, dirt, oil and debris. That helps to slow the appearance of the visible signs of ageing in your skin. You’ll see that youthful glow in no time. Our hi-tech patents are great for a start, but it’s the replaceable Silicone Head you’ll love. It’s softer, more hygienic and easier to clean than the bristle brush heads you’ll often find on facial cleansing brushes.
Which Face Wash is Best for Acne list
The Best Face Wash for Acne
Best Overall: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
This CeraVe cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide, which is one of the most effective ingredients we have in treating acne and clearing up blocked pores. It works by lowering levels of acne-causing bacteria, which helps to reduce inflammation.
—Josh Zeichner, M.D., dermatologist
Best Tea Tree Oil: Aromatica Tea Tree Balancing Foaming Cleanser
I love that this cleanser is a balanced option for combating breakouts. Tea tree provides antibacterial properties to fight blemishes, aloe vera soothes, and burdock and comfrey hydrate and calm. Your skin gets deep-cleansed without essential moisture being stripped away. —Alicia Yoon, celebrity esthetician and founder of Peach & Lily
Related: Best face oils for acne
Best for Sensitive Skin: Cerave Renewing SA Cleanser
This gentle salicylic cleanser helps with congestion, texture, and noninflamed breakouts. It contains niacinamide, which reduces excess oil production, but also hyaluronic acid and ceramides to keep your skin barrier supported. —Tiara Willis, esthetician and founder of Makeup for WOC
Best Vegan: Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser
The price tag on this face wash is on the higher-end side, but it flawlessly removes all impurities from the skin, including makeup! I love that it does this without being too harsh or stripping. It's also vegan and cruelty-free, which is a must for me. I usually use this cleanser at night only, with cold water! —Abril Rios, influencer
Best Bar: Dove Beauty Bar
There are two categories of cleansers I like to recommend for acne-prone skin: This one falls under the first category of sulfate-free, gentle cleansers. If your skin is already inflamed from breakouts, make sure it doesn't get further irritated. This beauty bar strengthens the skin barrier as it cleanses, depositing moisture and helping your face stay healthy as it wards off acne. —Mona Gohara, M.D., dermatologist
Best Calming: Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser
Power Calm is my favorite for how it respects the skin barrier, which is essential for treating breakouts. The low-pH, sulfate-free formula hydrates while providing anti-inflammatory benefits with chamomile, calendula, and cica. I love that this cleanser leaves acne-prone skin supple, clean, and clarified. —A.Y.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide: Panoxyl Acne Foaming Wash
The circumstances behind your acne and your skin type may determine which cleanser category is most appropriate for you. If you need strong activities, try a cleanser like Panoxyl Acne Foaming Wash. The formula has benzoyl peroxide, which helps to target the acne-forming bacteria behind your blemishes. —M.G.
Best Salicylic Acid: La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
Another category of face washes I recommend for acne is formulas that contain actives such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which work to actively reduce your breakouts. La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser's oil-absorbing formula contains salicylic acid to help bust breakouts and clear blackheads. —M.G.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Rosen Earth Cleanser
I love Rosen because its founder, Jamika Martin, has personally struggled with acne—so she knows exactly how delicate skin can be. Rosen Earth Cleanser is perfectly formulated for those with acne-prone skin, with a formula that includes clay, zinc oxide, and eucalyptus oil to combat breakouts and uneven skin texture. I love to recommend this line to anyone who struggles with different skin issues. —A.R.
Best Exfoliating: Rodan + Fields Redefine Daily Foaming Cleanser
This face wash from Rodan + Fields contains a blend of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids that offer gentle exfoliating benefits to help prevent breakouts. The formula also contains glycerol glucoside, a super-humectant that hydrates and protects the outer skin layer so your skin doesn't dry out. —J.Z.
Best Drugstore: Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser
While not specifically designed to be an acne cleanser, Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser is one of my favorites for my acne-prone patients. The gentle foaming action effectively removes dirt and oil from the skin without disrupting the skin barrier. It's a great choice to pair with your spot treatment. —J.Z.
Best for Dry Skin: Ixora BB Donkey Milk & Chamomile Soap
Sometimes breakouts can be due to an impaired skin barrier, and this cleanser helps snap it back in place. Donkey milk is incredibly hydrating and rich in many different vitamins, while chamomile is excellent for reducing inflammation in the skin. —T.W.
Best Wipes: Peach Slices Clear Skin Makeup Remover Wipes
We all have days when it's easier to cleanse skin without a sink. These micellar-water wipes gently dissolve oil, makeup, and impurities without tugging harshly at your skin. They're packed with ceramides to strengthen skin, aloe to calm, and cucumber and hyaluronic to hydrate. The ultra-soft cloths are also formulated without any oils, fragrance, or alcohol, keeping your skin feeling clean and clarified without any residue. —A.Y.