Best Face Washes & Cleansers For Acne Prone Skin - 2017 Reviews 

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

An Overview: Our Top Choices for the Best Face Washes & Cleansers For Acne Prone Skin

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.

Infused with natural acne solutions, such as primrose, beetroot and willow bark extract, Burt's Bees Purifying Gel Cleanser ranks third on our list. It's a great choice for a wide range of skin types.

Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam, meanwhile, works well on sensitive skin. It contains salicylic acid and is great to use on both pimples and dark spots.

If you have mild breakouts, this cleanser can get the job done.

2017’s Review of The Best Face Washes for Acne-Prone Skin

Best Face Wash for Acne-Prone Skin

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.

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.


  • 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

Best Face Wash for Acne Blemishes

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

Best Medicated Face Wash for Acne

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser

Natural Acne Solutions Purifying 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

Best Natural Face Wash for Acne

Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser

Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser

Comprised of 99.4% natural ingredients, this Purifying Gel Cleanser fights acne with naturally derived salicylic acid. What even great is that it’s oil-free.

​Thanks to beet root and primrose, it can also calm and soothe irritated skin. The product also has Willow Bark Extract which works to reduce inflammation and irritation.

​Being natural, it foams up but not as much as other cleansers do. Despite that, it can still cleanse your skin like no other.

​One issue you might encounter with the face wash is that it can be quite irritating to the eyes so make sure to avoid that area. It is also scented, but not that overpowering.


  • Natural ingredients help avoid irritation and inflammation
  • Geared toward a variety of skin types
  • Heals and fights zits, along with harmful bacteria and grime


  • Some have reported a lack of benefit for blackheads
  • May not be suitable for everyday use when not experiencing a breakout
  • Long-term use may lead to dryness

Best Foaming Face Wash for Acne-Prone Skin

Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam

Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam uses a mild, foamy formula to gently fight pimples and prevent breakouts without irritating the skin. It’s non-drying and will make your skin feel amazing after use.

The product lathers really well even with just one pump. Despite being a foamy product, it will leave your skin feeling comfortable- without the tightness you can get from other acne products.

Considering that you only have to use a small amount of product, one bottle can last you a long time.

Although the company recommends using the product twice a day, I suggest you start with once daily. This is to test your skin’s reaction.

If you notice that your skin feels fine with using the cleanser once a day, you can increase the frequency to two times. In case you feel tightness after that, decrease the number of use again.


  • Fights acne without threat of over-drying
  • Soothing for sensitive skin types
  • Should last a long time


  • Some have experienced dryness with long-term use
  • May be too strong for mild cases of pimples

Best Face Wash for Cystic Acne

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

Best Face Wash for Mature Acne-Prone Skin

Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

CLINIQUE Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam

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

Best Oil-free Face Wash for Acne-Prone Skin

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

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

Best Face Wash for Acne-Prone Sensitive Skin

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

Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash for Acne

Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 10%

Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 10%

The 10 percent benzoyl peroxide contained in this product is a potent ingredient against pimples as well as a great way to kill bacteria causing them. For its size and price, I’d say this one’s a good deal.

Not only does the product fight and prevent breakouts, it offers thorough exfoliation to strip away dead skin cells. Exfoliation, in case you haven’t hear of yet, is one good way to prevent breakouts since it can lift accumulated dirt and dead skin from your pores.

The cleanser can mildly dry your skin out so I suggest you follow up with a good moisturizer after. Without moisturizer, this one can be a bit harsh on the skin.

As with any product with benzoyl peroxide, this one can also cause staining. Keep it away from dark colored clothes or towels to avoid damaging them.


  • Contains aloe vera to soothe while fighting acne
  • Designed to treat even the most severe pimples
  • Provides quality and affordability


  • May cause itching
  • Certain consumers have experienced initial increase in acne
  • May be less effective if not used regularly

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

Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser
Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser




La Roche-Posay

Burt's Bees



Liquid to gel




Liquid to foam














4 fluid ounces

6.75 ounces

6.27 fluid ounces

5 ounces

4.2 ounces

Key Ingredients

0.5% salicylic acid,sage extract

1.5% salicylic acid, green tea extract, menthol

2% salicylic acid

Naturally derived salicylic acid, evening primrose and beet root extracts

2% salicylic acid, caffeine, algae, kola, and peppermint extracts

Get Started

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, read this:​

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?

Read more: 21 easy things you can do today to get rid of acne fast and naturally

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