25 Best Face Washes for Acne


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Washing your face at the start or end of the day is essential to cleanse your skin of any impurities and build-up that can accumulate in your pores. However, it’s also important to find a face wash that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils.

A good face cleanser should be part of everyone’s skin routine every day. There’s no point having the best serums or face creams if the skin underneath isn’t properly cleaned! But, how do you know which face wash is best for your skin?

While the answer isn’t as simple as choosing the first product that catches your eye, it also shouldn’t be too difficult. All face washes will be equipped with skin-boosting ingredients that work to effectively clean your skin. However, different skin types will also require different face washes with unique formulations and special ingredients.

Acne is a common occurrence, and most of us have experienced it at one point in our life. Teenage acne is considered normal and adult acne can be annoying, but both can impact our self-esteem and our confidence around others and in public. While acne usually occurs over various areas of the face and body, and across many skin types, people with oily skin are often particularly acne-prone.

Compared to dry or combination skin, oily skin will get shiny throughout the day as the skin overproduces sebum. Sebum isn’t all bad, as it helps keep your hair and skin healthy, but it can also cause pimples and acne to occur. To combat these pesky pimples, you’ll need to get a face wash that’s gentle enough to avoid aggravating acne with potent acne-fighting ingredients.

Here’s our pick of the 25 best face washes for acne-prone skin. 

Presented in a sleek and minimalist blue bottle, the Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser is extremely detoxifying and exfoliating. You know those deep satisfying cleans that make your face feel brand new? This is what you’ll get every time you use this cleanser. 

While volcanic ash might sound intimidating, this naturally occurring ingredient can work wonders for your skin — especially if you’re on the oilier side. It’s highly absorbent and the fine particles help to absorb excess oil and remove impurities. Say hello to refined pores!

The other key ingredient is lactobacillus ferment filtrate, which works to soothe skin and aid in its defense against environmental aggressors. While this face wash can be used by the whole family and across all skin types, this is a particular must-have product for acne-prone skin. 

2. Cerave Foaming Cleanser

Cerave is a brand that has made its name in the skincare industry for their potent and dermatologically-tested formulas, which are gentle enough for everyday use. If your skin is acne-prone, strong cleansers that overly strip all the oil from your face can actually cause more breakouts to occur, so finding one that is gentle enough is important. This Cerave Foaming Cleanser for normal to oily skin will still remove any impurities on your complexion without leaving your face feeling tight and dry. 

Key ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, help to keep your skin’s natural barrier strong and protected. The cleanser is also gel-based and will foam up when massaged in, meaning that a little goes a long way. 

3. Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil Reducing Cleanser

Cleansing acne-prone skin doesn’t have to mean ending up with skin that feels uncomfortable and dry afterwards! The Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil Reducing Cleanser leaves skin feeling soft and supple while thoroughly removing excess oil, impurities, and even leftover makeup. With star ingredients like aloe and sunflower seed oil, the benefits include a clear complexion and reduced pore size across your t-zone.

This cleanser is available in a regular size and a smaller size (8 oz) so you can bring it on the go whenever you’re on a holiday or weekend away. The formula is creamy but starts foaming up when massaged into the face and neck. 

4. Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash

There’s a reason why Neutrogena remains a well-loved brand, even years after it first exploded on the scene! Their affordable products don’t skimp on the effectiveness and quality, and this Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash is no different. 

Formulated with salicylic acid 2% as an acne treatment, this face wash markets itself as a daily face cleanser and acne treatment in one. Acne-prone skin is generally sensitive to excess added ingredients like oil, so oil-free products should be explored especially if your acne is persistent and inflamed. 

This special oil-free formulation gently removes grime, bacteria, and impurities to leave your skin looking fresh and clean. It is definitely one of the best face washes for acne.

5. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Face Cleanser

If you prefer gel cleansers over foam or cream ones, then La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Face Cleanser will be an excellent addition to your skincare regime. La Roche-Posay is a favorite in the skincare world, and the brand’s advanced skin solutions have been recommended by over 90,000 dermatologists around the world. Now that’s something we can get behind!

This cleanser is oil, soap, alcohol, and paraben-free, so you can be sure it’s suitable for sensitive skin and won’t irritate any acne you already have. Containing the powerful zinc pidolate, your skin will be purified and glowing in no time. 

6. Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel

Sebamed is a leading brand in the medical skincare industry, known for its high-quality ingredients and their products have a pH value of 5.5 — representing normal and healthy skin. If healthy skin is what you’re looking for, the Sebamed Clear Face Care Gel should be an integral first step in order to gently cleanse while providing powerful benefits. 

This face care gel hydrates and moisturizes while targeting breakouts and blemishes, including whiteheads and blackheads. This means you’ll be able to reduce the pimples you already have, while preventing any new ones from turning up. Ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid provide a burst of hydration to avoid dry patches from occurring.

7. Dove Beauty Bar

Sometimes, the simpler the product, the better when it comes to acne. Overly complex formulations with unnecessary ingredients can cause your skin to breakout more and keeping your routine minimal is key. The Dove Beauty Bar is a multitasking staple, and can be used all over your body, hands, and face to cleanse and moisturize.

Best of all, there are different types of beauty bars in the range, including one for sensitive skin and another with lavender to help you relax and unwind. Unlike traditional face cleansers, beauty bars can be used by rubbing gently over your face until you feel the product build. This bar won’t foam, so if you prefer an ultra-creamy wash, you might be better off looking for a different type of product. 

8. Cetaphil Gentle Clear Cleanser

If you’re looking for a face wash that is more tailored towards sensitive acne-prone skin, rather than accommodating all skin types, the Cetaphil Gentle Clear Cleanser is a must try product. With ingredients like aloe, white tea extract, and salicylic acid, this acne-fighting face wash will nourish, soothe, and cleanse skin without leaving it dry. 

Cetaphil has been producing high-quality skincare products for over 70 years and have been consistently recommended by many doctors and dermatologists. This cleanser is sure to keep your skin calm and hydrated without being irritated. It is fragrance-free, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic making it one of the best face washes for acne.

9. Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

Mario Badescu skincare originally started while Badescu was working as a cosmetic chemist, with his salon known to provide skincare solutions to NYC locals and celebrities. This solutions-based approach can be seen across his whole range of products, which remain a cult-favorite among the younger generation for its effectiveness and powerful ingredients.

The Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel can be used as a daily face wash but this doesn’t mean it’s any less effective. Ingredients like papaya and grapefruit extract provide a rejuvenating glow to your complexion while removing any excess oil which has accumulated throughout the day, or during sleep. 

10. Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

If you prefer a face wash in a handy pump bottle that squeezes out the perfect amount each time, try the Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser. Formulated for dry and sensitive skin, this gentle formula will help you get the healthy looking skin you’ve been looking for. The key ingredient across all Aveeno products is soy — which helps even your skin tone and texture, and transforms dullness. 

This oil-free and soap-free cleanser gently foams up without stripping your natural skin barrier. To use, gently massage into your face and neck before splashing off with cool water. If you also have acne on your body, this cleanser can be used as a body wash for problem areas. 

11. Bioré Charcoal Acne Daily Cleanser

Who says cleansers have to be white or cream-colored? Get converted to the dark side with the Bioré Charcoal Acne Daily Cleanser. Charcoal cleansers can help draw out impurities and dirt while purifying pores. Charcoal is very absorbent so you can say goodbye to blackheads and clogged pores with daily use!

As well as charcoal, this cleanser also contains salicylic acid. This potent combination means you can expect to see clearer skin in as little as two days. Besides being oil-free and dermatologist tested, this face wash is also vegan and cruelty-free so you can feel as good as you look. 

12. St. Ives Acne Control Daily Face Cleanser

Popular for their signature apricot body scrub, St. Ives is also well-known for their natural ingredients and delicious smelling products. Their Acne Control Daily Face Cleanser is made with salicylic acid and 100% natural tea tree extract to remove all impurities, oil, and dirt that accumulates on your skin and in pores. These compounds are known to be acne-causing, so it’s imperative to remove them. 

Best of all, this cleanser is certified cruelty-free by PETA and the bottle is made with 100% recycled plastic. To use, massage onto your face in small circular motions, making sure to get all the way up to your hairline and around your nose. 

13. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser 

A cleanser that looks as beautiful as it is effective? If this sounds too good to be true, you definitely haven’t met the First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser. Formulated with red clay to give it a striking red color, and rosemary oil to balance your skin microbiome while purging your pores, your complexion will be left radiant. 

The tailored formula means it’s suitable for all skin types and it’s also free from alcohol, parabens, artificial fragrance, and sulfates, so even the most sensitive of skin types can benefit from it. Alongside the key ingredients, other additions like glycerin and the special FAB antioxidant booster helps protect your skin against environmental aggressors while keeping it soft and smooth. 

14. Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

Just like the Dove beauty bar, the Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser is no-fuss, easy to use, and able to be purchased in almost all drugstores. Despite its humble nature, it remains one of the most popular facial cleansing products on the market. The new and improved formula is packed with a complex blend of skin-loving and dermatologist-improved ingredients like niacinamide, panthenol, and glycerin. 

This helps the cleanser get deep within your pores to minimize their appearance and purify from the inside out — all without drying out your skin. In fact, the formula is so powerful, that it’s been clinically proven to remove 94% of impurities. By choosing this cleanser, you can say goodbye to overly-damaging cleansers that can aggravate acne even further!

15. COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

Korean skincare is on the rise, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! COSRX is a beloved Korean skincare brand specializing in effective products that have taken over the beauty world. In fact, their famous snail mucin secretion complex has been hailed as one of the holy grail skincare serums! The COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser is developed for problematic and acne-prone skin and gently exfoliates blackheads and dead skin cells. 

Ingredients like willow bark extract and betaine maintain the cell-water balance in your skin, moisturize deep within the skin barrier, and naturally soothe red and inflamed skin. 

16. Burt’s Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser

We’ve all envisioned having clear, bright, and vibrant skin, and with the help of the Burt’s Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser, that dream can become a reality. Formulated with beautiful daisy extract this daily cleanser not only smells amazing, but it washes away excess oil and dirt to reveal luminous skin. 

The cleanser contains a fruit complex that can even help lighten dark spots and reduce discoloration on your face. Best of all, this cleanser is part of the Burt’s Bees Brightening face care range, so if you love how this product looks and feels on your skin, be sure to try out the others!

17. Garnier Skin Active The Gentle Sulfate-Free Cleanser

If your skin is temperamental at the best of times, you’ll want a face cleanser that has none of the ingredients it doesn’t need, and everything that it does. Garnier Skin Active The Gentle Sulfate-Free Cleanser bids farewell to common “harsh” ingredients found in typical hair and skin products.

This means no sulfates, alcohol, oil, dyes, parabens, or fragrances. The result is a milky white cleanser that packs a powerful punch but remains gentle enough for helping acne-prone skin. 

Because it’s so neutral, the whole family can use this cleanser and reap the benefits. If you prefer a no-mess applicator, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s in a handy pump bottle. 

18. Olay Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Acne treatment doesn’t have to break the bank! A cleanser is the first step in your skincare routine and is also washed off after application, so if keeping within your budget is important to you, opt for an inexpensive cleanser and save your money for a serum or face cream. The Olay Gentle Foaming Cleanser is affordable yet takes care of your delicate skin every day. 

The star ingredient is glycerin which is a popular ingredient in many of the face washes on this list. It helps skin retain moisture especially during the colder months, while strengthening the barrier. The result? A more youthful complexion.

19. Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

You might notice a trend in this list. Most of the face washes we are recommending are formulated to be ultra-calming or soothing. This is because acne can already be an irritant, creating red flushes across your cheeks and t-zone. You’ll want to calm down your inflamed skin without providing more irritation, with the help of calming cleansers like this Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser. 

However, this doesn’t mean the cleansers won’t effectively lift away dirt, grime, and impurities. Feverfew is a natural ingredient related to the well-known chamomile, which helps to reduce the appearance of a red and flushed complexion. Pair that with their gentle cleansing formula, and you’ve got a match made in heaven!

20. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

Speaking of affordability and gentle formulas, The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser may look plain from the outside, but make no mistake, this face wash will get the results you want. With ingredients like squalane and other lipophilic esters to enhance spreadability and dissolve impurities, this cleanser is suitable for all skin types and ensures skin is moisturized without leaving an oily sheen. 

The Ordinary brand is famed for their inexpensive products, and this cleanser is no different, coming in at under $8. To use, you’ll need to activate the emulsifying sucrose esters by rubbing the formula with your hands. 

21. Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash

Be kind to your skin, the planet, and animals, with Simple’s Moisturizing Facial Wash. This cleanser provides your skin with only the best ingredients and no nasties, such as colors and dyes, perfumes, and other harsh chemicals. With triple purified water alongside vitamins B and E, the face wash gives your face a rejuvenating boost while thoroughly cleansing off pollutants.

Did we mention you’ll also be supporting the animals and the environment? All Simple products are made with recyclable packaging and are globally certified by PETA to be cruelty free and vegan. 

22. Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

Activate the gel-to-foam magic with a cleanser that soothes at the same time as it cleanses. Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash is one of the most popular products of this well-known brand, and contains calendula extract which has been utilized for many centuries in traditional Asian therapies and Chinese medicine. Calendula contains various compounds that work to soothe and relieve discomfort, meaning you’ll suffer less redness on your skin.

The creamy gel formula foams up well when massaged in, and the handy pump bottle means you’ll get the exact amount you need every time. While all skin types can benefit from this face wash, those with oily to combination skin types may see particular improvement.

23. Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel

Reminiscent of pure and fresh thermal water, the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel will mattify your skin while gently comforting and cleansing. The light foaming formula is made in France and is especially effective for oilier skin types due to the presence of Comedoclastin™, a compound derived from milk thistle seeds and renowned for removing sebum effectively. 

The soothing and softening properties of the second star ingredient, Avène Thermal Spring Water, means this formula is gentle enough for contact lens wearers. The scent is light, soft, and barely there, and the face wash gently foams up from its initial gel texture. 

24. Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Milky Jelly Cleanser is another cult-favorite from the popular social media brand, Glossier. Marketed as a “conditioning face wash,” this creamy face cleanser is just as decadent and moisturizing as its name. Instead of soap, the brand incorporated Poloxamer, a mild cleansing agent that is also found in contact lens solution. Hey, if it’s gentle enough for your eyes, it’ll definitely be gentle enough for your face!

The vegan, cruelty-free, and noncomedogenic formula also includes vitamin B5 and other skin conditioning ingredients to keep your skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom, while melting away any makeup, dirt, or grime accumulated during the day. 

25. Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser

If you’re unsure where to begin with your skin concerns, you’ll definitely want to invest in a cleansing product that does it all. Dr. Barbara Sturm acknowledges that without a proper cleansing step in a skincare routine, active skincare ingredients from subsequent steps won’t be able to work as effectively, or be absorbed. The Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser preps your skin for the serums and moisturizers that follow by gently cleansing your complexion without disrupting the delicate pH balance. 

With natural yet potent ingredients like aloe vera, panthenol, vitamin E, and purslane to rejuvenate, repair, and moisturize, this face wash is a must-try for any skincare lover.

25 Best Face Washes for Acne

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