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Prevent, Heal, & Treat Acne with these 16 Face Washes and Cleansers

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Finding the best face wash can be tough. If you have oily skin, you'll need an acne cleanser that balances oil production while zapping zits. But, if you have dry skin or sensitive skin, your facial cleanser for acne should not only be strong enough to prevent and treat breakouts, but gentle and hydrating, too. And, no matter what, if you are acne-prone and on the hunt for a suitable cleanser, keep in mind that it should include at least one of these acne-fighting ingredients: benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. These ingredients penetrate the skin to lift out pore-clogging ingredients, like dead skin cells, excess oil, and other impurities, all of which can lead to blackheads and breakouts.

Of course, not all face washes are equal; many contain harsh chemicals, which can irritate your skin and disrupt your natural oil production. This can then lead to more oil, more blackheads, and more breakouts. But not to worry, below, we’ve compiled our picks for the best face washes for acne-prone skin for every skin type, so you can get breakout-free in no time.

1. The Best Shine-Eliminating Acne Cleanser:

ORIGINS CLEAR IMPROVEMENT™ Zero Oil Cleanser with Charcoal

ORIGINS CLEAR IMPROVEMENT™ Zero Oil Cleanser with Charcoal
Courtesy of ORIGINS

Blemishes, be gone! ORIGINS Zero Oil Cleanser contains charcoal which acts like a magnet for dirt and oil (bye bye, blackheads) and has been proven to deeply cleanse the skin. It’s a gentle gel-to-foam cleanser that also includes pore-shrinking salicylic acid, so it's great for oily skin. It's also made without parabens, so it won't irritate or dry out your skin. Use it morning and night, and follow with a toner for extra-smooth, blemish-free skin.

2. The Best Cleanser for Tough-to-Treat Adult Acne: 

MURAD Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser

MURAD Acne Control Clarifying Cream Cleanser
Courtesy of MURAD

MURAD’s Clarifying Cream Cleanser is great for all skin types, and it fights blemishes without over-drying your skin. Formulated specifically for stubborn adult acne, this gel-cream cleanser has a time-release formula containing salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid (for hydrating), and soothing amino acids, all of which combat acne for up to eight hours. The soothing paraben-free formula glides dreamily onto your skin and is perfect for day and night cleansing.

3. The Best Acne Cleanser for Sensitive or Dry Skin:

LEADERS COSMETICS USA Insolution Acne Foam Cleanser

LEADERS COSMETICS USA Insolution Acne Foam Cleanser
Courtesy of LEADERS COSMETICS USA

LEADERS COSMETICS USA’s Insolution Acne Foam Cleanser is a hypoallergenic face wash that gently draws out excess oil and dirt. It was specifically made for acne-prone sensitive skin or mature skin types, so it's super gentle. Still, this doesn't mean it doesn't pack a powerful anti-pimple punch. It's made with a number of acne-fighting ingredients, including salicylic acid and centella asiatica leaf, which help prevent acne scars and future blemishes while making sure your skin stays smooth and supple.

4. The Best Lightweight Acne Cleanser:

BAREMINERALS Blemish Remedy® Acne Treatment Gelee Cleanser

BAREMINERALS Blemish Remedy® Acne Treatment Gelee Cleanser
Courtesy of BAREMINERALS

Adult acne can be a pain to deal with, but BAREMINERALS’ Blemish Remedy Acne Treatment Gelee Cleanser helps clear up your skin (and it feels so satisfying). It's made with salicylic acid and exfoliating mineral-rich sea salts, ginger extract, and peppermint. The gel cleanser gives just the right amount of lather to oily and combination skin to keep your face bright and clear.

5. The Best Cleanser for Acne and Redness:

CLINIQUE Acne Solutions™ Cleansing Foam 

CLINIQUE Acne Solutions™ Cleansing Foam
Courtesy of CLINIQUE

CLINIQUE’s Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam is an acne face wash that delivers. It soothes redness and inflammation for sensitive skin, while also digging out dirt and excess sebum. Salicylic acid and acetyl glucosamine eat away at dead skin cells, while laminaria saccharina extract controls oil production. The gentle cleanser is non-irritating, paraben-free, and fragrance-free, so you can lather it on twice a day without worry.

6. The Best Acne-Clearing Face Wipes: 

C’EST MOI BEAUTY Clarify Blemish Cleansing Wipes for Acne 

C’EST MOI BEAUTY Clarify Blemish Cleansing Wipes for Acne
Courtesy of C’EST MOI BEAUTY

C’EST MOI BEAUTY’s Clarify Blemish Cleansing Wipes for Acne is an easy solution for those lazy days when you just don’t want to do your full p.m. skincare routine. These hypoallergenic acne wipes lift away build-up, dirt, excess oil, sweat, and pore-clogging impurities from your skin. Salicylic acid, apple cider vinegar, and azelaic acid soothe irritated skin and bring it back into balance. The vegan and dermatologist-tested wipes are also perfect for sensitive skin.

7. The Best Pore-Clearing Acne Cleanser:

FIRST AID BEAUTY Pure Skin Deep Cleanser with Red Clay

FIRST AID BEAUTY Pure Skin Deep Cleanser with Red Clay
Courtesy of FIRST AID BEAUTY

FIRST AID BEAUTY’s Pure Skin Deep Cleanser with Red Clay is one of the best skin care products for oily and combination skin prone to blackheads and blemishes. It’s a daily oil-free jewel-red facial cleanser with rosemary leaf oil, which is known to have antibacterial properties to help kill the bad bacteria on your face that causes acne. The inclusion of glycerin helps hydrate and restore moisture to the skin, so your skin won’t feel overly dried out.

8. The Best Exfoliating Acne Cleanser:

VERSO SKINCARE Verso Acne Deep Cleanse

VERSO SKINCARE Acne Deep Cleanse
Courtesy of VERSO SKINCARE

VERSO SKINCARE’s Verso Acne Deep Cleanse is the best way to get your daily exfoliation fix—in your acne wash! It’s formulated with a high concentration of salicylic acid, which works to dissolve excess sebum and dead skin cells and prevent future breakouts. The face wash also contains niacinamide, a hydrating ingredient, and turmeric to protect your skin from harmful free radicals, while portulaca acts as a soothing moisturizer.

9. The Best Antibacterial Acne Cleanser:

HEY HONEY DON’T MISS A SPOT Propolis Cleansing Foam

HEY HONEY DON’T MISS A SPOT Propolis Cleansing Foam
Courtesy of HEY HONEY

HEY HONEY’s DON’T MISS A SPOT Propolis Cleansing Foam is packed with the antibacterial properties of propolis, a natural ingredient found in honey that is used for its healing and restorative properties. Not to mention, it unclogs pores and reduces inflammation. This silky cleansing wash also balances pH levels and evens out rough facial textures. It’s great for all skin types.

10. The Best Natural Acne Cleanser:

CLARISEA Ocean Saltwater Clear Skin Cleanser

CLARISEA Ocean Saltwater Clear Skin Cleanser
Courtesy of CLARISEA

CLARISEA’s Ocean Saltwater Clear Skin Cleanser is a wonderful natural face wash that clarifies acne-prone skin with sea salt, organic aloe, and organic rosewater. Salt is one of the best exfoliants that cleanses blackheads and targets pesky breakouts without drying your skin out. What’s so unique about this face wash is that it works when you massage it into dry skin, so the ingredients don’t get diluted. Just rinse off with a little warm water, and watch your redness and pimples fade away. And, it's paraben-free, fragrance-free, and vegan so you don't have to worry about irritation.

11. Best for Pores:

DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta® Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta® Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel
Courtesy of DR. DENNIS GROSS

This cleansing gel also exfoliates, tones, and clears skin of makeup and dirt all in one step. It uses farnesol to prevent breakouts by inhibiting the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. The inclusion of snow ear mushroom helps hydrate and restore moisture to the skin. For pores, barosma betulina leaf extract reduces sebum and helps pores look smaller and more refined.

12. Best On-the-Go Acne Cleanser:

NEOGEN DERMALOGY A-Clear Soothing Foam Cleanser

NEOGEN DERMALOGY A-Clear Soothing Foam Cleanser

A powerhouse trio of acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and centella asiatica extract work together to reduce acne by eliminating over-production of oil and calming redness and irritation. This cleanser is great to throw in your gym bag for an added dose of spa-vibes that will help you feel refreshed no matter where you are. Thanks to the refreshing herbal scent, you can unwind and relax while scrubbing the day and the sweat off of your face.

13. Best for Congested Skin: 

DEWYTREE The Clean Lab AC Dew Foam

DEWYTREE The Clean Lab AC Dew Foam

The first ingredient in this foaming wash from DEWYTREE is salicylic acid, so you know it’s potent. It targets acne by lifting dead skin cells off of the skin to promote new cell turnover. The inclusion of white willow stem extract helps soothe skin as it heals and also prevents skin from drying out. To prevent future breakouts, antimicrobial sciadopitys verticillata root extract kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

14. Best for Sensitive Skin Types:

ESSENHERB Tea Tree Foam Cleanser

ESSENHERB Tea Tree Foam Cleanser

This Korean beauty brand uses plant-based formulas to deliver powerful results. The star of the show here is tea tree leaf extract, which has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It kills acne-causing bacteria, minimizes excess oil, and reduces redness and irritation all at the same time. Bonus: this line is super gentle and perfect for sensitive skin types who also experience acne.

15. Best Daily Formula:

KATE SOMERVILLE EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser

KATE SOMERVILLE EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser

Similar to the soothing ingredient in eczema products, this foaming cleanser uses natural oat extract to reduce and absorb sebum while also being extremely gentle on the skin. Sulfur pulls double duty in eliminating existing breakouts and keeping new pimples from occurring. Plus, all Kate Somerville products are vegan, so rest assured your furry friends will thank you in advance.

16. Best for Traveling:

DR. LIN SKINCARE Medicated Acne Cleansing Wipes

DR. LIN SKINCARE Medicated Acne Cleansing Wipes

These simple, disposable wipes are packed with some pretty tough ingredients, like 2% salicylic acid to unclog pores and prevent future breakouts. They’re also packed with aloe leaf juice to soothe skin and create a cooling, refreshing effect as soon as you use them. Keep these in your bag this summer and look fresh and dewy-faced wherever you go.

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About the author
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Brittany Leitner
Brittany is an award winning beauty, health, and lifestyle writer and author of the poetry book "23 Emotions." She has eight years of experience writing for brands like Elite Daily, The. Dr. Oz Show, Shape, Stylecaster, Bustle, and more.
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Article Last Updated July 15, 2021 12:00 AM