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14 Best Face Washes for Acne Prone Skin


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We know that finding a face wash is tough when your skin is prone to acne. Some products seem to make it worse, while others might improve some symptoms but be so effective at removing oil that your face ends up feeling dry and flaky. There are so many products on the market that claim to be good for acne, but which ones actually work? Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and figured that out. We’ve rounded up 14 of the best face washes for acne-prone skin – read on to find out more!

What causes acne?

There are a wide variety of factors that contribute to acne, some environmental and some genetic. Here are some of the most common causes of acne:

  • Genetics – some people are simply more prone to acne than others.
  • Hormonal fluctuations ranging from puberty, your menstrual cycle, menopause or pregnancy.
  • Living in a hot, humid environment – anything that means you sweat more is more likely to lead to acne, due to the bacteria in sweat.
  • Wearing hats pulled over your forehead or having hair that falls over your forehead can contribute to forehead acne, particularly in warmer weather.
  • Using heavy, greasy products that clog your pores.
  • Not washing your face before you go to bed at night – this is particularly important if you wear makeup or use sunscreen.

Which ingredients should you look for or avoid?

There is no one size fits all rule on what ingredients you should look for or avoid with acne prone skin. However, some things tend to be more likely to affect acne than others. These include:

To look for:

  • Salicylic acid: A beta hydroxy acid that exfoliates and unclogs pores, reducing breakouts and inflammation.
  • Clay or bentonite: All types of clay are great for fighting acne due to their ability to absorb oil from the skin, but bentonite (derived from volcanic ash) is particularly effective.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid. These are mild chemical exfoliants that help remove dead skin cells, improving skin texture and reducing the appearance of acne scars.
  • Azelaic acid. This reduces inflammation, redness, and hyperpigmentation, and has antibacterial properties.
  • Tea tree oil: A natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredient that may help reduce acne-causing bacteria.
  • Green tea extract: This contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce acne inflammation.
  • Aloe vera: This is a natural ingredient known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties, which is perfect for when your skin is irritated.

To avoid:

  • Alcohol and parabens. These can be drying and irritating to the skin, which may exacerbate acne.
  • Coconut oil. This might be natural, but it can be pore-clogging, potentially causing breakouts in acne-prone skin.
  • Artificial fragrance can cause irritation and allergic reactions, worsening acne or triggering breakouts.
  • Mineral oils can clog pores and contribute to acne formation.
  • Sulfates can be irritating to the skin and strip it of natural oils, potentially worsening acne.

1. Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser

If you’re looking for a face wash that is gentle on your skin, will remove excess oil and impurities, and leave your skin hydrated and supple, then look no further! Our top pick for acne-prone skin, Blu Atlas Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser might just be the perfect product if you suffer from breakouts.

The volcanic ash (also called bentonite) is a type of clay that is known for its highly absorbent properties. This enables it to absorb any excess oil and impurities from your skin, leaving it clean and fresh. As oil and impurities are one of the contributors to acne, this is excellent news for anyone acne-prone!

Another ingredient in this cleanser that is great at fighting acne is lactobacillus ferment filtrate. This is derived from probiotics and is perfect at helping to strengthen your skin’s microbiome. A strong microbiome means that less of that nasty, acne causing bacteria can flourish on your face, meaning you’ll have fewer breakouts and clearer skin!

We’ve already talked about how some cleansers designed for acne prone skin can be drying. Not this one! The pomegranate seed oil is incredibly hydrating, leaving your skin supple and dewy. Follow this up with Blu Atlas face moisturizer for even better results.

There are three versions of this product to choose from – classic scent, coconut apricot scent, and fragrance-free, so you’ve got plenty of options. Fragrance-free is a particularly good option for if you have sensitive skin, but all versions are super gentle and soft on your skin.

2. INNISFREE Green Tea Foam Cleanser

Green tea is a super ingredient when it comes to skincare, and Innisfree Green Tea Foam Cleanser makes the most of its cleansing powers.

Formulated as a light, cleansing foam, this face wash works to clean away acne-causing dirt and impurities from your face, leaving it clean and refreshed. Gentle enough to be used daily as part of your regular skincare routine, this foam contains both green tea extract and green tea root.

The green tea extract works to hydrate the skin while ridding it of impurities. The green tea root contains natural saponin, which creates a creamy, luxurious lather without using harsh surfactants. Rich in amino acids, the extracts work together to leave your skin incredibly hydrated and dewy.

This is also a great product to try if you’re after a budget option – it won’t break the bank. And did we mention it’s totally oil free? Perfect for keeping your acne prone skin clear.

3. OLE HENRIKSEN Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser

Ole Henrikson is a trusted skincare brand, and this cleanser really delivers on what the brand is known for – evidence based skincare that works. Designed to reduce excess oil and deeply cleanse your pores, this lathering cleanser will leave your face cleaner than ever – and it smells great too!

The secret to this product is the proprietary Green Fusion Complex™ – a blend of botanical ingredients that includes green tea, algae, eucalyptus and Irish moss – which work together to absorb oil and shrink pores. These extracts also have natural antiseptic properties, which help to defend your skin from acne-causing bacteria.

Another great acne-fighting ingredient in this face wash is neem seed oil. Famous in ayurvedic medicine, this oil will get right to the root of your acne problem, deeply cleansing your pores and leaving your face squeaky clean.

One thing that is known to contribute to acne is a build up of dead skin cells – these can clog pores, leading to blocked hair follicles. The glycolic and lactic acids in this face wash take care of this issue, however – they gently exfoliate the skin, sweeping away the old skin cells and leaving fresh new skin in their place.

4. FRESH Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash

Because clogged pores are a leading contributor to acne, it makes sense to go straight to the source of the problem. That’s where this cleansing and exfoliating face scrub comes in.

This creamy formula works to remove impurities, oil and makeup from your face without removing your natural oils. Using two sizes of sugar crystal as a physical exfoliator, this face wash is as sweet as they come. It smells so good, you might even be tempted to eat it! The crystals slowly melt as they exfoliate your skin, cleaning away dead skin cells to reveal the clear skin underneath.

The formula also includes strawberry extract and grapeseed oil, which work together to hydrate and nourish your skin. The cleansing action comes from the soap berry peel extract instead of from harsh, soap based cleansers, so your face won’t get that unpleasant, overdried feeling after you use it.

Lastly, this cleanser is totally free of  parabens, sulfates and other nasties that can irritate acne prone skin, so you can feel confident you’re making the best choice for your skin when using it.

5. FIRST AID BEAUTY Pure Skin Face Cleanser

Another great product from First Aid Beauty, this cleanser was a no-brainer for our list of best face washes for acne prone skin in 2023. This cleanser comes out of the tube with a whipped texture, which turns into a rich, creamy formula when rubbed between wet palms.

This face wash works to gently remove any impurities from the surface of your skin, including surface oils, dirt, bacteria and makeup residue, while avoiding stripping your face of its natural protective oils. As these surface impurities are one of the leading causes of acne, you’ll see a difference soon after you start using it.

These days, more and more people are finding it important to use natural ingredients rather than harsh chemicals, and this product reflects that. It uses a blend of botanical derived antioxidants to protect your skin from free radicals, which damage your skin and cause premature aging.

pH is also incredibly important when it comes to caring for acne prone skin, and this product is perfectly pH balanced to preserve the natural pH of your skin. If you use it daily, you’ll see much less irritation and far less acne. So what do you have to lose?

6. BIODERMA Sebium H2O Purifying Cleansing Micellar Water

This micellar water cleanser is perfect for those with acne prone skin who wear makeup.  It uses tiny cleansing molecules that work with your skin’s natural balance in order to remove impurities and cleanse away oils. It works with your skin’s natural sebum to avoid clogging the hair follicles without drying out the skin.

You can use this product both morning and night, and it is perfect for those with oily or acne prone skin. You’ll notice the feeling of freshness as soon as you use it – your skin will feel tingly and clean, but without any dryness or tightness.

This cleanser is effective enough to use alone, but if you want to double cleanse you can follow it up with Sebium Foaming Gel Cleanser. To use this product, soak a cotton ball or pad in the liquid and rub it over your face, gently cleansing and removing any makeup or impurities from your skin. You don’t even need to rinse it away –  simply follow with the next step in your skincare routine.

7. GLO SKIN BEAUTY Hydra-Bright AHA Cleanser

If you’re looking for a gently exfoliating cleanser that will thoroughly cleanse your acne prone skin without drying it out, this is the product for you. This cleanser comes out as a gel, which can be worked to a lather between wet palms and then massaged into your face for a deep, refreshing clean.

The lactic acid in this product provides a gentle chemical exfoliant, rubbing away flaking, dead skin cells that would otherwise clog pores and lead to acne. The cleanser also contains moringa seed oil, which is designed to balance your skin’s pH and brighten your skin, leaving your complexion glowing.

This product is so versatile it is recommended by dermatologists as being suitable for all skin types, so whether your acne prone skin tends to be oily, dry or a combination of both, you’ll find this product will work for you.

Because it’s so gentle, the face wash doesn’t disturb your skin’s protective barrier, the microbiome – it strengthens it instead! This makes it more able to fend off bacteria that can cause acne. It also prevents your skin from losing hydration as easily. We can’t recommend this cleanser highly enough – try it, you won’t be disappointed.

8. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Gel

Clinique has made a name for itself as a trusted brand when it comes to skincare, and with good reason. Many decades of the brand releasing effective, dermatologist approved products means that you can be confident that their products work like they claim to. This cleanser is no exception to that rule – it works to clear the skin of impurities and dirt that can cause blemishes, helping to get your acne under control.

This totally oil-free product removes the build-up of dirt and impurities from your face, penetrating your pores to clear blackheads. Despite how effective it is, it isn’t remotely drying – in fact, it is gentle enough to be used daily, morning and night. It can be hard to find a face wash aimed at treating acne that is not too harsh and astringent, but this product does the job.

As well as removing oil, this cleanser also works to reduce inflammation, soothing your skin and getting rid of any redness and skin discomfort. This will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth every time you use it.

To really take this product to the next level, you can use it with the Clinique Anti-Blemish Sonic System Cleansing Brush, or otherwise just apply a small amount to damp hands and work to a lather before applying it to your face.

9. PEACE OUT Blemish Balm Facial Cleanser

If you’re looking for a cleanser that will work to get rid of stubborn acne while hydrating and nourishing your skin, this is the product for you. This daily exfoliating cleansing balm is designed to wash away excess oil and impurities without stripping your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Here’s how this amazing cleanser benefits your acne-prone skin.

Firstly, the Blemish Balm Facial Cleanser combines the best of both worlds in terms of exfoliation – physical and chemical. It features biodegradable cellulose beads that help refine your skin’s texture while remaining eco-friendly. These gentle beads ensure a thorough cleanse without causing irritation, leaving your skin feeling smooth and refreshed.

The cleanser is also infused with salicylic acid, a powerhouse ingredient known to lift away impurities and minimize the look of pores. Salicylic acid is a proven acne-fighter, helping to keep breakouts at bay by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation.

What sets this cleanser apart is how it preps your skin for better absorption of acne-fighting products. By using it as the first step in your daily skincare routine, you’ll set the stage for maximum effectiveness from your other treatments. Even your moisturizer will absorb better after using this cleanser, so give it a try! We can’t recommend it highly enough.

10. CAUDALIE Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser

Salicylic acid is a tried and true ingredient when it comes to fighting acne, and this cleanser from Caudalie really makes the most of it. Using completely naturally derived salicylic acid, this gentle foaming cleanser cleans away oil and impurities, leaving your skin feeling fresh, clean and clear.

Formulated so that it won’t dry your skin, this cleanser gets rid of blackheads and other blemishes through its combination of cleansing and calming ingredients. While the salicylic acid works to cleanse the sebum from your hair follicles, the antioxidant powers of grape seed polyphenols reduces redness and irritation.

Even though this formula is completely oil free, you don’t need to worry that it will be drying for your skin. The formula also contains the incredibly hydrating rosewater, which will leave your skin dewy and glowing. This product also smells incredible – you’ll be hooked on the smell alone! The results will speak for themselves, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t try this product sooner.

11.TARTE Sea Frxxxtion Stick 3-In-1 Exfoliating Cleanser

This cleanser is a little different to most face washes out there – it comes in a solid stick formula. Don’t be put off though – it may be a little out there, but it’s incredibly easy to use. Just twist the base of the tube until some of the solid gel sticks out, then apply directly to your face! After that, you simply need to use your fingertips to thoroughly massage it into your skin, then rinse away.

This cleanser is serious business, and it isn’t one that you need to use every day – add this to your skincare routine 2-3 times a week for the ultimate acne fighting results.

Designed specifically for oily, acne prone skin, this product contains the proprietary Rainforest of the Sea™ complex, as well as micro exfoliants derived from diatomaceous earth. This means that the product absorbs oil and impurities from your pores, giving you the ultimate in deep cleans.

The  soothing gel formula acts as a chemical exfoliant, sloughing away skin flakes and leaving your face glowing and radiant.

If you need an even deeper clean, did you know you can also use this stick as a mask? Just apply it as normal and then leave on your skin for a further 10 or 15 minutes before rinsing it away.

12. ALPHA-H Triple Action Cleanser

Among the many, many face washes available, Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser has earned its spot on our list of the best face washes for acne-prone skin, and for good reasons. This light, non-foaming gel cleanser not only removes all traces of face and eye makeup, but also balances the skin, leaving you with a clean, fresh, and invigorated complexion. Let’s dive deeper into why this product deserves a place in your skincare routine.

First and foremost, the Triple Action Cleanser is formulated with thyme, a powerful natural extract known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Thyme helps to minimize excess oil production, which is a leading cause of acne. By controlling oil levels, this cleanser effectively reduces the chances of clogged pores and breakouts, making it an excellent choice for those with acne-prone skin.

Another key ingredient in this cleanser is cucumber, which has a cooling and invigorating effect on the skin. Cucumber is packed with vitamins and minerals that help to soothe and hydrate the skin, reducing redness and irritation often associated with acne. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties can help calm inflamed acne, promoting a more even and healthier skin tone.

What sets Alpha-H Triple Action Cleanser apart from other face washes is its gentle yet effective cleansing action. The non-foaming gel formula ensures that your skin is not stripped of its natural moisture barrier, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced complexion. This makes it suitable even for those with sensitive skin, as it cleanses without causing irritation.

13. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

You may have seen more and more products boasting that they contain squalane in the last few years. Squalane is a natural, plant derived substance that is extremely similar to the sebum naturally produced by our skin. This means that products that contain it are excellent at balancing the natural oils in our skin – your face will end up not too oily, not too dry.

The Ordinary is a great, budget friendly option for those who care about great skincare but don’t want to break the bank. They might not have the flashiest packaging or the fanciest of ingredients, but all of their products are dermatologically tested and science based. This product also contains lipophilic esters, which are designed to dissolve facial oils, makeup and other impurities, creating a spreadable product that effectively cleanses your face.

Specifically designed to be non-comedogenic, this product will prevent breakouts and improve your skin’s texture, without over drying the skin or causing irritation. So if you haven’t tried a product from The Ordinary yet, give this one a go! You may just find it’s your new favorite.

14. Holifrog Superior Omega Gel Face Wash

Last on our list but definitely not least is the Holifrog Superior Omega Gel Wash. This luxurious, high end product is a little more on the spendy side than some of the other cleansers on this list, but if it solves your acne problem, won’t it be worth it?

Perfect for acne prone skin that tends towards oiliness, this product is perfect for cleaning away dirt, makeup and skin impurities with its lightweight foaming formula. With one step you can both cleanse and tone your skin, penetrating into your pores and clearing away blackheads and sebum.

This product contains the holy trinity of omega fatty acids, probiotics and antioxidants, which work together to protect and nourish your skin. These ingredients are known for their ability to strengthen the skin’s microbiome, which means that they improve your skin’s ability to fight off acne on its own. How great is that?

Not only is this product a powerhouse of effective ingredients, it is totally free of any unpleasant, harsh ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, silicones and artificial fragrances. It is also vegan and cruelty-free, so you can feel confident you’re making an ethical choice when you purchase it.

The lowdown

Finding the perfect face wash for acne-prone skin can be a daunting task, but with these 14 outstanding options, you’re sure to discover the one that works best for you. Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, so it might take some trial and error to find the ideal match. Don’t be discouraged if the first product you try doesn’t provide the results you’re looking for; simply move on to the next one. With persistence, you’ll soon find a face wash that not only helps combat your acne, but also leaves your skin feeling refreshed, clean, and nourished. So go ahead, take the plunge, and explore these amazing face washes – your skin will thank you for it!

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