10 Best Face Washes for Acne-Prone Skin


How to choose the best face wash for acne-prone skin

Look for actives: A few ingredients to look for in your face wash include benzoyl peroxide (to clean out the P. acnes bacteria that contributes to acne), salicylic acid (to exfoliate and remove pore-clogging debris and break up blackheads and whiteheads), sulfur (to lessen inflammation), or glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid that clears away dead skin cells).

But go mild if need be: One downside is that face washes with anti-acne ingredients can be drying. You may also be tempted to overdo it on cleansing—and see skin irritation as a result. Pro tip: If you do get a bit dry or flaky, scale back to every other day and follow with a noncomedogenic moisturizer designed for oily or acne-prone skin.

Listen to your skin: Finding the right cleanser for your acne-fighting routine can be tricky, and you’ll like have to try both cleansers for sensitive skin and those formulated with active ingredients to figure out which you prefer. If your skin gets red, itchy, flaky, or irritated in general, talk to your doctor about switching to a milder formula instead.

When it comes to cleanser, you don’t have to pick an expensive one—drugstore buys will get the job done. But there are options in every price category.

The best gentle face washes for acne-prone skin

These mild cleansers are great if you find traditional acne face washes too drying or irritating. Follow with your acne treatment and a noncomedogenic moisturizer at night, as well as an SPF during the day.

CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash

Don’t let “hydrating” scare you—many acne-prone patients are susceptible to dry, flaky skin. This fragrance-free, noncomedogenic option will help combat any irritation. A mix of ceramides and hyaluronic acid work to draw and lock moisture into the skin, so it never feels stripped.


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

it’s designed to wash away impurities without irritating, making it great for acne-prone skin (and all skin types, really). It’s especially soothing for those with a sensitive complexion or eczema


Fresh Soy Face Cleanser

Thanks to a cocktail of soothing ingredients—like aloe vera, cucumber, and hydrating glycerin—this cult-favorite face wash is amazing for sensitive, acne-prone skin. Plus, “soy helps brighten the skin. It also has properties that lessen redness.” Bonus: It’s fragrance-free and noncomedogenic.


Avène Antirougeurs CLEAN Redness-Relief Refreshing Cleansing Lotion

This ultra-gentle cleanser has thermal spring water witch works to reduce redness while cleansing the skin. No need to worry about irritating side effects, as its free of soaps and fragrances.


First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

A lightweight but nourishing face wash? It’s a dream for annoyed, acne-prone skin. The formula deeply cleans out dirt, oil, and makeup while maintaining balance in the skin. Glycerin, aloe, licorice, root, and white tea extracts band together to soothe and hydrate the face without stinging or burning. The whipped texture also lathers up nicely, but never leaves the skin feeling dry.


The best acne face washes with active ingredients

These face washes for acne contain active ingredients designed to fight bacteria, unclog pores, and gently exfoliate the skin. Simply follow with moisturizer if you’re only targeting blackheads or white heads, or your go-to acne-treatment if you have deeper breakouts. Always follow with a noncomedogenic moisturizer (and SPF if using in the morning). Discontinue use if irritation occurs.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Pink Grapefruit Acne Facial Cleanser

With skin-brightening vitamin C and blackhead-banishing salicylic acid, this wash is a “refreshing way to start off your morning and treat acne and red marks.


Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

This product goes double duty as a daily cleanser (to clear breakouts) or face mask (to deep clean your pores). A 3.5 percent benzoyl peroxide formula is even suitable for sensitive skin types. It also helps control that shiny forehead you deal with by 3 p.m., thanks to oil-controlling kaolin and bentonite clay.


Bioré Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser for Oily Skin

The addition of charcoal (a great ingredient for oily skin) to this 1 percent salicylic acid cleanser helps penetrate clogged pores to clear out blackheads.

Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser

Sulfur calms down redness and inflammation. Catch is, it’s not always pleasant-smelling. However, this raved-about 3 percent sulfur cleanser, which acts as an antiseptic and antifungal, has a mild fragrance and (most importantly) really fades both mild and cystic acne by unclogging congested pores.

<span title="ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Sulfur 3.0% INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Coco-Glucoside, Acrylates Copolymer, Coconut Alcohol, Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate, Glycereth-18, Stearyl Alcohol, Mel Extract/Honey Extract/Extrait de Miel, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Oligopeptide-10, Boswellia Serrata Extract, Behenyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Carboxyethyl Siliconate, Linalool, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate , CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides)” style=”color:#0000ff;”>INGREDIENTS

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that gives the face a gentle exfoliation by clearing away dead skin cells, a precursor to pesky bumps. This face wash packs the active ingredient, in addition to herbal extracts to soothe the complexion. Because it helps buff away the dead layers of skin, it’s also helps reduce annoying scars, too.


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