Best Acne Face Washes & Cleansers

10 Best Acne Face Washes & Cleansers Of 2017 | Which Do You Need?

In our commitment to help you end your skin breakouts once and for all, we’ve gone through the hard work of comparing and assessing 20 different products to come up with the 10 best face washes for acne-prone skin. They were selected based on their effectiveness in healing existing acne, controlling the factors that contribute to skin breakouts and preventing new zits from developing

Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care has 0.5% salicylic acid and natural plant extracts that aim to help you get rid of your acne. It has a soap-free and hypoallergenic formulation that won’t compromise your skin any further.

Instead of salicylic acid, Murad Clarifying Cleanser has silver citrate. It's a great antibacterial agent which can almost completely eradicate those nasty acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Similar with Exposed Facial Cleanser, this product has no parabens.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid and Lipo Hydroxy Acid to get the job done. It can reduce oil and provide microexfoliation- two key things that can prevent breakouts.

For a vegan and cruelty-free option, your best bet is American Black Liquid Castile Soap Detox Face and Body Wash. It combines the power of bamboo, charcoal, aloe vera and pure essential oils to treat and prevent acne.

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind and Purifying Micro Pearls is a great choice if you are looking for something that will detoxify your skin. It contains tamarind fruit extracts to get the job done.

Here, our beauty editors pick the top face washes you should be using on your acne-prone skin.

1. Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care

Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care

When it comes acne prone skin, one of the best brands you’ll encounter is Exposed Skin Care. This facial cleanser is one good reason why.

The product comes with 0.5% salicylic acid in combination with natural sage extracts to detoxify your skin. In addition to that, it also has pro-vitamin B5 which helps condition the skin.

The consistency of the face wash is rich. Despite this, we didn’t find it too drying or irritating to the skin. In fact, it leaves a decent amount of moisture behind.

It has a soap-free formulation so don’t expect it to lather too much. Apart from that, it is also non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.

This is the first step in the Exposed Skin Care Acne Treatment Program. You can get the other products from the line, too, if you want to experience everything the brand promises.

Like getting clearer skin in just 30 days- or get your money back. You can check out its Acne Treatment Kits to know more about what we are talking about.​

If that sounds too much for your budget, just get this one. For its affordable price and benefits, you can consider it a good deal.

But seriously, though, you’ll save more from the kit (Hint, hint!).


  • Has vitamins and natural plant extracts
  • Has salicylic acid
  • Soap-free
  • Doesn’t dry out the skin


  • Not for people who are sensitive to salicylic acid
  • Might be too much for occasional breakouts

2. Murad Clarifying Cleanser

Murad Clarifying Cleanser

One of the key ingredients in this product is silver citrate. The name can be quite intimidating but, trust me, it’s a very helpful ingredient when it comes to pimples.

Silver citrate is a potent antibacterial agent that can alleviate 99.9% of irritating bacteria that can cause skin breakouts. What it does is break down the cell membranes of the bacteria and denature their enzymes.

The cleanser also has green tea extract which contains potent antioxidant benefits.

Murad Clarifying Cleanser's encapsulated salicylic acid delivers medicated treatment that will continue fighting breakouts and healing acne throughout the day. Apart from this property, you’ll love that this product is also free of harmful ingredients, like parabens, sulfates and phthalates,

The product is not tested on animals and given a thumbs up from dermatologists.

As for blemishes, it has been tested to be able to reduce hyperpigmentations in just 4 weeks. Murad claims that 90% of its users have experienced the said benefit.


  • Prevents breakouts throughout the day
  • Cools and calms irritated skin
  • One of the most affordable Murad products


  • Possible dryness with long-term use
  • May be too powerful for mild cases of pimples
  • May irritate combination and sensitive skin types

3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

If you are going to use a product, you’d want it to be able to live up to its claims. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser is one of those products that have been tested for its ability to reduce excess oil and combat skin breakouts.

The product comes with 2% salicylic acid to get the job done. In addition to that, it also has Lipo Hydroxy Acid that primarily works to provide micro-exfoliation.

When you have acne prone skin, dead skin cells tend to pile up on the surface of your skin and inside your pores. By exfoliation, you’ll be able to get rid of these things which, in essence, can clear your skin from acne.

Despite being able to reduce excess oil, this one won’t dry your skin out. It won’t also leave your skin feeling taut and tight.

Instead, you’ll get a nice and subtle cool feeling after use.

One issue you might encounter with this product is its packaging. The lid tends to be a bit flimsy so be careful that you don’t spill everything out of the bottle.


  • Clinically tested
  • Has salicylic acid
  • Won’t dry the skin out


  • Lid doesn’t close tightly
  • Consistency is thin

4. American Black Liquid Castile Soap Detox Face and Body Wash

American Black Liquid Castile Soap Detox Face and Body Wash

If you are looking for a vegan and cruelty-free option for the best face wash and cleanser for acne-prone skin, the American Black Liquid Castile Soap Detox Face and Body Wash is a definite must-try.

It contains activated charcoal and bentonite clay to pull out toxins and impurities from your skin. Apart from that, you can also find 6 pure essential oils in the product that can help fight acne and promote healing.

The body wash is super concentrated so a little amount will definitely go a long way. You are supposed to start using it in a pea size amount.

If it doesn’t foam into an emollient lather, you’re probably using it way too much.

As for skin compatibility, this one can also work well on those who have oily skin. If your acne-prone skin type leans more on the dry side, it’s best to steer clear from this one as this can leave your skin even more dehydrated.

Take note that this one has a subtle scent that goes away fairly quick.​


  • A little goes a long way
  • Great for detoxing the skin
  • Ingredients are non-toxic


  • Scented
  • Not for people with dry skin

5. Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind and Purifying Micro Pearls

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind and Purifying Micro Pearls

To destress your skin, try Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind and Purifying Micro Pearls. It contains tamarind fruit acids to free your pores of dead skin cells, excess oil and pollutants.

It’s a great choice if you wear makeup since it can remove every trace of cosmetics on your skin. That includes dirt, too.

The packaging of this one is really nice.

It’s a squeeze tube with a flip-open cap which reduces spills and leakage. It’s great for traveling or for a quick wash up at the gym.

For your entire face, you’ll only need the tiniest amount since it foams up really well.

One nice thing about this foaming face wash is that it doesn’t leave the skin dry and taut. It helps control oil well, too.

You won’t have any problem rinsing it either as it’s never greasy. Just be careful not to get the product in your eyes as it can be quite uncomfortable.


  • Removes makeup and dirt really well
  • Packaging is travel-friendly
  • Doesn’t dehydrated the skin
  • Non-greasy


  • Expensive
  • Can irritate the eyes

6. Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser

Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser

Like the other products in this line, Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser fights and prevents breakout. Its patented pore-penetrating technology continuously prevents breakouts throughout the day.

The product uses benzoyl peroxide, a wonderful acne-fighter for all skin types, to keep fighting and killing bacteria continuously. Even severe blemishes and cysts are no match for this cleanser.

Despite being effective, this ingredient can cause you some serious mess since it’s known to bleach clothes. It can even bleach hair, too.

The product is relatively cheap and, for its benefits, I’d say this can give your more than your money’s worth. It lathers really well without leaving your skin completely dry.​


  • Pore-penetrating technolong allows continual prevention of breakouts
  • Some reviewers reported skin clearing completely within one week
  • Readily available


  • May irritate some sensitive skin types
  • Some report the product has a bleaching effect on towels and fabrics
  • Fragrance may displease some buyers, as some has reported it to be too strong

7. Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser combines natural ingredients to cleanse and fight breakouts while also improving skin's elasticity. It’s the best face wash for mature acne-prone skin for its handful of antioxidant ingredients.

Rosemary leaf extracts, for example, offer age-defying benefits by tightening to skin and also reducing redness and inflammation. Its willow bark extracts, on the other hand, can purify your pores and stop breakouts.

The product is free from preservatives and irritating ingredients, like ethanol alcohol. It’s gentle that even those with sensitive skin can use it.

Plus, it isn’t strongly scented.

The pump bottle it comes with makes dispensing easier. However, since it lacks preservatives, you might notice that the product becomes less effective over time.


  • Heals acne and prevents future breakouts
  • Improves complexion and has age-defying effects
  • Only a small amount is needed for full effect


  • Some reviewers experienced over-drying and irritation
  • Some experienced greater breakouts initially
  • The tightening effect caused by rose leaf extract has been uncomfortable for some users

8. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Neutrogena has long been touted as a leader in acne-fighting products, and this cleanser is one of their staples. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash gently yet effectively combats blemishes and future breakouts.

Thanks to its salicylic acid and oil-free, noncomedogenic ingredients. Their combination enables the product to sooth the skin without feeling heavy or leaving any residue.

The face wash is primarily geared towards preventing pimples. One way it does that is by unclogging your pores.

When there’s dirt or makeup residues in your pores, it triggers an inflammatory reaction and then swelling, redness and pain follow.

After unclogging your pores, the cleanser’s Microclear technology then delivers salicylic acid to your skin to clear up blackheads and stop future zits from forming. Many users also report the cleanser effectively rids their complexion of harmful dead skin cells.


  • Affordable
  • Combats blemishes and prevents future breakouts
  • Eliminates grime and dead skin


  • Some have found the product harsh and drying
  • May be too strong for mild breakouts
  • Some have been displeased with scent of product

9. Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

Perfect for all skin types, Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser gently yet effectively clears breakouts. It will leave your skin feeling smooth and radiant after use.

The cleanser is hypoallergenic, oil-free and noncomedogenic which are exactly the things you need in a face wash for acne-prone skin.

It also includes a soy-based formula to moisturize and prevent dryness. It can also improve the tone and texture of your skin to make it healthier-looking and more radiant.

Apart from being a great cleanser, this one can also lift off makeup residues. Keep in mind that it can only remove makeup to a certain extent, especially the waterproof ones.

​If you wear heavy makeup, it’s a good idea to invest in a separate remover to make sure you get all the residues off of your pores.


  • Clears skin while also soothing irritation
  • Soy ingredients formulated to prevent dryness from occurring
  • Can remove makeup


  • Some noticed little difference in breakouts after using product
  • Fragrance has been unpleasant for some
  • Some found it more suitable for mild breakouts

10. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Dermatologist recommended, this cleanser from Cetaphil removes dirt, oil, and grime without irritating even the most sensitive of skin types.

With pimples, it can be difficult to obtain a fresh, clean feeling, regardless of cleansing time. But, with this product, various users report that it leaves their face feeling thoroughly cleansed as well as soft and silky.

The cleanser is low-lathering so don’t feel surprised if it doesn’t produce as much bubbles or foam as other cleansers do. The great thing about this product is that it doesn’t leave any residue on the skin.


  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Has a non-irritating formula fit for sensitive skin types
  • Powerful and affordable


  • Some issues have been experienced by combination skin types
  • Some find smell to be displeasing
  • Some report the consistency is too oily

Reviews and Comparisons of The Best Face Washes for Acne-Prone Skin


Best Overall

Best Face Wash for Acne Blemishes

Best Medicated Face Wash for Acne

Best Natural Face Wash for Acne

Best Foaming Face Wash for Acne

Top-Rated Acne Face Washes & Cleanser 2017

Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care
Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
Safe House Naturals Detox Face & Body Wash
Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser




La Roche-Posay

Safe House Naturals



Liquid to gel



Liquid Soap

Foaming wash














4 fluid ounces

6.75 ounces

6.76 fluid ounces

5 ounces

4.4 ounce

Key Ingredients

Salicylic Acid .5%

Salicylic Acid 1.5%

2% salicylic acid, 0.05% microexfoliating LHA

Activated charcoal, bentonite clay, coconut oil

Tamarind and purifying micro pearls

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What Makes A Good Face Wash For Acne Prone Skin?

When picking a face wash, you need to be cognizant of which cleansers are most appropriate for your skin type.

Acne prone skin isn't exclusive to oily skin types. Several people with dry, sensitive skin experience acne, as do those with combination skin. We also have a buying guide about Best Face Wash for Oily Skin if you want to take a look.

There are a few things to keep in mind when picking a face wash for your specific type of acne.

  • Acne-fighting ingredients: Facial cleansers need to include medicated ingredients in order to treat and prevent breakouts.
    One of your best options is salicylic acid. It is almost the same as aspirin in that it can reduce redness and inflammation.
    It can even open up blocked pores to limit further breakouts.
    Benzoyl peroxide is another great acne-fighting ingredient. It’s impressive in that it can address almost all types of skin blemishes, like blackheads, whiteheads and cystic acne.
  • Exfoliation: Dry and dead skin cells exacerbate acne-prone skin. This is why it’s important to find a cleanser that can slough off dead skin cells from the surface.
    Salicylic acid, aside from preventing and healing pimples, also works as an exfoliant.
  • Terms: Regardless of your skin type, terms like "oil-free" and "noncomedogenic" are two terms to look for when picking a face wash.
  • Sensitivity: If you are unsure about your skin type, you should check with a dermatologist first as some ingredients in aggressive washes may irritate the skin.
    For those with dry and sensitive skin, you should consider investing in a creamy, gentler cleanser that can fight redness as well as inflammation.

A Quick Guide: How To Properly Wash Acne-Prone Skin

When you are dealing with zits and breakouts, you need to consider all the factors that can contribute to skin breakouts. There’s too much oil, clogged pores and ineffective cleansing method.

Eliminating these factors mean reducing your breakouts. Simple, right?​

It might sound easy but, reality-wise, a lot of people still fail at this. And if you’ve exhausted all possible means of soothing your acne-prone skin, watch this video:​

Ideally, you should wash your face twice daily.​

​Cleanse your face in the morning to get rid of the cells and oils that accumulated during your sleep. Wash your face again at night to remove the impurities and makeup residues that piled up during the day

​Cosmetics, excess oil and dirt can get stuck inside your pores. Once that happens, an inflammatory reaction is triggered and pimples develop.

​If you have severe acne, you should consider using a medicated facial cleanser. Your dermatologist is the best person to make the right product recommendation as such cleansers can be too strong.

​For mild acne, an oil-free cleanser can do the trick.

​Use warm water when washing your face. Avoid hot water as it can strip the skin off of its natural oils and barrier.

​During product application, the trick is to use gentle circular motions so you can effectively remove dirt. This approach can also improve the blood circulation on your face.

​Rinse your face with water and make sure to dry it using a patting motion. Rubbing can cause minute tears on your skin which can get infected later on.

​Always, and I mean always, use a clean towel on your face to avoid introducing bacteria to your vulnerable skin.


Clearly (no pun intended), there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to face washes. To benefit the most from a cleanser, you must have an understanding of your skin type, sensitivity, and severity of acne.

What are some of the do's and dont's you have experienced on your skin care journey? What are you still looking to learn?

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