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Best Cleansers For Acne Prone Skin

What’s The Best Way To Wash Your Face If You Have Acne


The first step in cleansing your face if you have acne is to wash your hands. Then, using a “dime-sized amount of cleanser,” generate a lather by running your hands under the water before applying it to your skin, says Hartman. Then, “gently rub the lather into your face in upward motions” and follow by rinsing with “clean, lukewarm water” and finish by “patting the skin dry with a washcloth.” Pro tip: Don’t rub the washcloth on your skin, warns the pro, because “rubbing can irritate acne.”

Shop The Best Oil Cleansers For Acne

In a hurry? Here are the best oil cleansers for acne-prone skin:

Heimish All Clean Balm is often viewed as a close cousin to BANILA COs Clean It Zero balm, which gets beauty lovers ardently discussing which one is their favorite. While theyre both great, gentle cleansing balms , their ingredients differ quite a bit from one another. The Heimish balm has a rich, creamy formula think more coconut oil and less sherbet and contains tea tree extract, which is often used to help treat acne. This contains about 20 milliliters more of product and costs about $6 less than the Banila balm, so technically youre getting a better value with this one. But again, theyre both amazing options figuring out which one you prefer will ultimately be a process of trial and error.

Positive Amazon review: I have very oily acne prone skin and I love this product. Started double cleansing at night with this and my cleanser and it was a game changer. Less breakouts and it doesnt clog my pores. Definitely recommend!

Type: Cleansing balm | Mineral oil free: Yes| Fragrance free: No (but does not contain artificial fragrances]] | Free of added colorants:Yes

Also available on:Stylevana, $10, and Yesstyle, $16


Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser

| Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser.

One day, your face is spotless, shining, and radiant. The next? Oily, red, and riddled with blemishes left and right. So, what are you supposed to do? Its time to bust out one of the best faces for acne this year: Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser.

This bright, bubbly, orange face wash is one of our favorite cleansers because its affordable, effective, and non-irritating. Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser works by unclogging dirt, oil, grime, makeup, pollution, sunscreen, and other impurities from the skinallowing your skin time to heal, breathe, and repair itself.

This face cleanser also does an incredible job at absorbing excess oil, preventing future breakouts, and hydrating the skin. Infused with coconut oil and other enriching ingredients, this face wash will gently lather and foam away acne-causing impurities from your skin without over-drying. Now, go forth and embrace your new, healthy, and acne-free skin.

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Oil Cleansers That Are Actually Great For Acne

If your acne isn’t responding to the lotions and potions you’re slathering on, you might want to take a good look at your cleanser. “Cleansers that leave your skin feeling ‘squeaky clean’ are actually creating an acid mantle that is too acidic,” says esthetician Athena Ellen. When the acid mantle is unbalanced, your skin may be more prone to increased sebum production and acne. And while it’s possible for this to be the case, keep in mind that, according to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian, “pH imbalance is not a science-supported, known etiology of acne.”

Meet the Expert

Athena Ellen is an esthetician and founder of the natural skincare line Monastery. With over fourteen years of experience, Ellen has an overall approach to skin health through the mind, body, and soul connection.

But this is avoidable. “Oil cleansers don’t change the acid mantle at all,” notes Ellen. “Cleansing oil suspends dirt and makeup, so that it can be easily wiped away while leaving a hydrating layer of oil behind. Oil cleansers are so gentle that they usually don’t need to be followed by a moisturizer. Many people see an improvement in their skin texture after a couple of weeks of oil cleansing.” However, Ellen warns, “If you are a double-cleanser, be careful that your second cleanse isn’t stripping the skin. It would be a shame to undo the good of the oil cleanser by following up with an acidic one.”

The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Best Gentle Cleansers for acne

| Salicylic Acid Cleanser.

2023 is the year of fresh, acne-free faces. We love The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser because it gently foams and cleans away acne-causing impurities while 2% Salicylic Acid exfoliates away dead skin cells, diminishes blackheads, and visibly minimizes the appearance of pores.

Zinc Compound reduces excess sebum, which can cause irritation and acne. Plus, it infuses the skin with soothing anti-inflammatory properties that help protect and nourish the skin. 0.5% Allantoin promotes healthy skin tissue growth, which helps clear up the skin faster. You cant go wrong with this gentle, cruelty-free face wash that will have your skin acne-free in no time.

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Best For Kids: Evereden Kids Multi


Why We Like It: This wash gently cleanses and hydrates while delivering health-promoting micronutrients directly to the skin.

Its Worth Noting: It may be a little difficult for younger kids to use.

Its never too early to start teaching your kids healthy habits, and that includes a skincare routine that incorporates a quality facial cleanser designed for kids.

Formulated with the unique needs of kids’ skin in mind, Everedens Kids Face Wash is great for children ages four and up. Available in three 100% natural scentsCool Peach, Fresh Pomelo, and Melon Juicethis formula is fun to use while being gentle and hydrating.

It contains anti-inflammatory and soothing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which nourish the skin mantle and regulate oil production, along with micronutrients like niacinamide to balance oils and rejuvenate the skin, as well essential micronutrients vitamins B5 and C.

Price at time of publication: $17

Product Details:

  • Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, niacinamide

Best For Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Ultra


Why We Like It: Feverfew extract, the active ingredient, helps visibly reduce redness and irritation in sensitive skin.

Its Worth Noting: The bottles pump can be a little unreliable.

Sensitive skin can make it hard to find a reliable cleanser, especially for clearing away stubborn acne. If youre looking for a facial cleanser that is formulated with red, irritated skin in mind, Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser is a great choice.

This cleansers active ingredient is feverfew , which is an herb that reduces redness without irritating sensitive skin. This product is a parthenolide-free extract , which means that it has been formulated so that skin-aggravating sesquiterpene lactonesnaturally found in the plantare removed from the feverfew.

This wash is also fragrance-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, meaning it wont clog pores.

Price at time of publication: $29

Product Details:

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How To Choose Cleansers For Acne

9 minute read

Just wash your face. If only getting rid of acne was that simple! There are plenty of anti-acne face washes out there, but not all of them are effective and finding the cleanser that works best for your skin will depend on your skin type. To make it easier on you, in this guide we break down the best cleansers for acne-prone skin, whether your skin is dry, oily, sensitive, combination, or normal.

Best For Sensitive Skin: Youth To The People Kale + Green Tea Superfood Face Cleanser

BEST CREAMY CLEANSERS (for Sensitive, Combination and Acne-Prone Skin)

The key ingredients in Youth To Peoples face wash are kale, spinach, and alfalfa, which are all rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and provide a wealth of antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental damage as well as help calm inflammation from breakouts. Additionally, this face wash also contains hydrating aloe vera, green tea extract to soothe irritation, and soothing lavender and rose extracts.

GoodGlow Score

Youth To Peoples cleanser is completely free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dimethicone, and mineral oil

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Best Face Wash For Hormonal Acne On A Budget: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser

The short ingredient list consists of mild surfactants, as well as glycerin to hydrate the skin and prevent trans-epidermal water loss. The Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser can be used once or twice a day, depending on your routine, without worrying that it will leave the skin feeling stripped.

GoodGlow Score

Designed & developed by dermatologists.

Ingredient Callouts

Neutrogenas Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser is oil-free, soap-free, and hypoallergenic, which makes it perfect for anyone with sensitive skin.

Should I Use A Benzoyl Peroxide Wash For My Acne

Benzoyl peroxide is the most effective anti-acne topical medication. That said, to be effective, the benzoyl peroxide should stay on the skin for 20 minutes. If washed off the skin in 30 seconds, it does have the time to be effective. Thus, Benzoyl peroxide washes are usually more irritating and less effective than other medicated cleansers and should be used by most acne people.

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Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Like many others during their teen years, I struggled with severe acne and tried many different products and remedies before a dermatologist recommended this lotion to me. Not only was it gentle enough to not agitate my extremely sensitive skin any further, but still washed away the excess oil and impurities that were plaguing me. Key ingredients include nourishing hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides that not only hydrate your skin, but help preserve its natural barrier.

Over time, I saw an improvement in my skins general condition and along with other key skincare products, eventually was able to clear up my skin. But dont just take my word for it, go through the over one user wrote they actually use this to help manage their cystic acne.

A Top Pick That Soothes Skin While Purifying Pores

Best Gentle Cleanser For Sensitive Acne Prone Skin


Skin type: All | Consistency: Clay | Key Ingredients: Clay trio , charcoal, cactus extract

This cleanser would likely top our list of best cleansers anywhere, everywhere, and for anyone and everyone. It suits all types, but is so cushioning and gentle that its a top recommendation for acne-prone individuals with dry skin. We chose not to put a salicylic acid or benzoyl-based product here since there are many others on this roster that suit those needs for all skin types. Rather, if you lean dry and need to deep-clean your pores while staying balanced, then use this cleanser, which harnesses the purifying powers of clay and charcoal. It also soothes on contact thanks to cica and cactus extract.

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How We Selected The Best Face Washes For Acne

To identify the best facial cleansers for acne, blemishes, pimples, and blackheads, we explored the research on treatments for acne and spoke with several dermatologists about the differences between acne facial cleansers and the ingredients they contain. In reviewing the many acne face washes on the market, we took into consideration ingredients, sustainability, accessibility, and cost. We offered a range of skin cleanser types so you can find the one that best suits your needs and your budget.

What Kind Of Ingredients To Look For And What Ingredients To Stay Away From

Look for

AHAs and BHA , like glycolic acid and salicylic acid, are found in skincare products you can buy over-the-counter that might help with mild breakouts. These can be irritating to sensitive skin, however, so start with one ingredient at a time, and use it 2-3 times per week at first. This way, you can see if your skin tolerates the first ingredient without dryness or irritation.

Zinc pyrithione is a mineral-based antimicrobial that restores balance and blocks messy bacteria and fungi from multiplying. Zinc soap may also be helpful for those who suffer from fungal acneespecially if you sweat a lot or live in a hot, humid climate. We especially recommend trying zinc soap to get rid of body acne, but it may help with your face, too!

Niacinamide is an antioxidant derived from vitamin B3 that fights acne while keeping inflammation and dark spots at bay. A cleanser with niacinamide in it, such as CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, can work well for normal to oily skin.


Alcohol. Alcohol is unfortunately used in a lot of skincare products, even though it dries out the skin and can damage its protective barrier! Watch out for alcohol on the ingredients list of your products, especially if your skin seems dry, red, tight, itchy, or irritated after using it. However, some products have alcohol at the end of the ingredients list, likely meaning theres not too much of itin that case, it may not irritate the skin as much. But its best to avoid it whenever possible.

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Other Ways To Clear Hormonal Acne

In addition to a natural, anti-inflammatory cleanser, there are other things you can do to help alleviate your hormonal acne breakouts. In addition to a hormonal acne-safe cleanser, you should invest in a moisturizer that is safe for hormonal acne. Lastly, if you want a long-term solution to hormonal acne, you should follow a low-inflammation diet to help prevent your skin from breaking out.

Best Hypoallergenic: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Facial Cleanser


The most effective anti-aging face wash for large pores and oily skin is made by Paulas Choice.

The Resist cleanser leaves the face feeling refreshed and clean, never tight. It removes make-up and extra oil and tightens enlarged pores.

With aloe vera, inexperienced tea and hyaluronic acid, it reduces redness and hydrates the skin. Then, ceramides assist it to retain moisture.

Like different merchandise from this firm, its fragrance-free and doesnt comprise parabens.

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Best Acne Cleansers For People With Post

Some premium medicated acne cleansers contain natural boosters in addition to their active cleansing ingredients that can further reduce skin redness and dark spots. Examples are licorice and green tea extracts that are potent antioxidants that prevent and help fade brown spots, Vitamins C and E that help lighten pigmentation, even skin tone, and boost the skin’s natural healing. And aloe vera leaf extract helps hydrate and soothe the skin.

What To Consider When Shopping For An Oil Cleanser

The science behind how cleansing with oil can help acne-prone skin is based on what Dr. Barnett refers to as the like-dissolves-like concept. Plant-based oils found in many oil-based cleansers dissolve the natural oils on our skin that have hardened and plugged up our pores, she says. The applied oil will mix with the hardened oils and can be lifted away when the mixture is wiped with a damp washcloth. This is a great approach if you are prone to acne with pore congestion and blackheads.

Keep in mind that using an oil cleanser isnt the same as slathering your face in straight olive or coconut oil or from your kitchen youll want to look for a properly formulated product for your skin type first. Focus on products labeled as non-comedogenic to ensure that they wont clog your pores, Dr. Barnett advises. Also avoid cleansers with added scents or dyes. Finally, she adds that mineral oil is a big no-no for skin thats prone to inflammation, blackheads, and/or whiteheads.

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What Are The Best Ingredients For Acne

The dermatologists we spoke to highlighted four key ingredients to help fight acne: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, adapalene and azelaic acid. These are available as prescriptions for more stubborn acne, but there are plenty of over-the-counter products that offer these ingredients at a lower dosage.

Other acne-fighting ingredients found in OTC products include alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids . These compounds can help with clogged pores like blackheads and can cause the top layer of dead skin cells to shed, according to Dr. , a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor at NYU Langone Healths Department of Dermatology. However, experts agreed you should consult your dermatologist to see what works best for your skin and wont cause irritation .

How Do You Find The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

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Taking your skin type into account will help you narrow down your options too. For oily skin, I usually recommend a foaming cleanser, Dr. Adotama says. If your skin is on the dryer side, a gentle hydrating cleanser is preferred. Avoid harsh scrubs if you have sensitive skin.

You can also mix and match your acne treatments for best results. Dr. Marks often recommends a salicylic acid face wash for one wash of the day and a benzoyl peroxide wash for the other . There are also back acne washes if you experience breakouts anywhere else on your body. Just remember that its always best to check in with your dermatologist before you switch up your skin-care routine.

Here, are a range of expert-recommended face washes for acne, from drugstore beauty brands like CeraVe and Neutrogena, and other fan favorites from Paulas Choice, SkinCeuticals, Murad, and more.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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A Deep Cleaning Face Cleanser That Won’t Strip Your Skin Of Natural Oils

This fragrance-free, pH-balanced formula, has a powerful botanical antioxidant blend that protects the skin against environmental factors that commonly lead to irritation and acne. When mixed with water, this whipped cleanser develop a rich creamy texture that leaves skin feeling soft and supple, and though it deeply cleans the skin, removing dirt and makeup it wont strip your skin of its natural oils. It contains aloe vera, rich in vitamin E, and allantoin, a powerful ingredient known to soothe dry skin.

First Aid Beauty makes all of their products with sensitive skin in mind, which is why you can trust that this gentle cleanser won’t cause irritation or provoke further breakouts. Almost 80 percent of Amazon reviewers gave this cleanser a five-star rating, resulting in a rare overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Helpful review: “Best decision Ive made for my skin! Switching from an acne medicated cleaner to this less harsh cleanser has done wonders for me! I have sensitive skin and am prone to cystic acne, so I was unsure about using a non acne medicated face wash & this stuff was just what my skin needed! This wash cleanses my skin super well, without drying me out, or leaving my skin tight. I think I am on my third bottle now, and the product is still keeping my skin clean & clear!”


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